WAVERLY — With the high school football campaign entering its conference slate, the Indians and the Tigers charged into the sixth week of the season with both teams looking to secure their first SOC II victory of the year in a conference opener.
On Friday evening, Waverly’s attack proved to be too much as the Tigers used a balanced offensive attack to collected a 35-14 victory over Valley on Friday evening in a bout that was held in Waverly.
After both teams traded possessions throughout the beginning of the contest, Waverly’s powerhouse running back Drew Kritzwiser turned on the power switch and collected impeccable 26 yard gain to Valley’s 23 yard line. Another completed pass from Waverly’s Easton Wolf put the ball on Valley’s 12, and to round the quarter off with only 24 seconds to go, Waverly’s freshman running back Phoenix Wolf collected a 12-yard touchdown reception for the Tigers to put Waverly in front by a 7-0 tally after a quarter of play.
In the second quarter of action, both sides didn’t give much in the way of scoring momentum as each unit fought for control. However, the Tigers managed to press into the red zone, and, with 2:43 remaining in the opening half, Wolfe hauled in a second 12-yard touchdown pass to collect a 14-0 Waverly advantage.
However, Waverly wasn’t finished. Just 15 seconds after the touchdown, Cade Marquez picked off a pass that eventually led to another touchdown, this time via the hard running of Kritzwiser, to put Waverly up by a 21-0 margin at the end of the opening half of play.
The third quarter of the contest proved to be an explosive display of skill from both sides of the opposition as the Indians had found their stride and the Tigers held their momentum.
After holding Waverly on a drive where the Tigers advanced inside the Waverly 30, Valley quickly capitalized on the opportunity as Andrew Shope showed a well executed passing game when he snuck a pass to Gabe Streeter which led to a touchdown for the Indians, cutting the lead to a 21-7 tally with 5:59 to play in the third quarter. The Tigers now realizing that Valley had found their stride, they had turned it all back on to hyper offense.
However, with the third quarter coming to a close, it was the Tigers who would come up with another big play. With Shope back to pass, the junior let a deep bomb fly. Unfortunately for the Indians, the pass, which was initially caught, was ultimately stripped away by Easton Wolfe for an astonishing 80-yard return that resulted in an unexpected touchdown and put Waverly in front by a 28-7 tally at the end of the third quarter.
Valley, however, didn’t quit fighting. With nine minutes to play, Valley’s Tyler Mitchell caught a Shope pass and turned the junior’s pass into a score to again cut the lead to a two-score game, 28-14.
However, without even a minute passing, Easton Wolf again broke through the mold of the defensive line by collecting a 50-yard touchdown run to put Waverly up by a 35-14 margin — a game that would hold to the final horn.
Overall, Darren Crabtree and Chris Crabtree were pleased with the level of intensity that both units brought to the well-contested affair.
“There were times where we played really well, and times that we didn’t,” Valley’s veteran head man said. “Waverly is a very well trained team with a lot of good players and I challenged our boys to play with emotion in the second half, and I was confident and happy that we did.”
“It’s always good to get out first league win,” Chris Crabtree said. “Valley was a very strong opponent with a lot of good players. And we had some boys that normally didn’t get a lot of playing time that showed some skill tonight. It was great to see the Wolf brothers play together and play well tonight as well.”
With the victory, Waverly improves to 5-1 ahead of a primo SOC II showdown with Wheelersburg on the road. Valley (2-4), meanwhile, will return home for an SOC II affair of its own as the Indians will host West next Friday.