Versailles hardens, tightens, advances – press pros magazine
It took four quarters to tidy up, which perhaps made Versailles’ progress to the Division V state championship game even smoother, drawing on that venerable quality so common to great teams throughout history. from school.
London, Ohio – What had been a leisurely stroll through the playoffs turned turbulent for Versailles on Saturday night just as the Tigers had grown used to being firmly in control.
Four double-digit wins, two with lap times in the opening laps and a pair of No. 1 and No. 2 seeded shutouts in the last fortnight….
Such confidence is good, but after allowing conversions on four fourth bets held by his opponent in the first half – including two that aimed for touchdowns – the Tigers looked around their dressing room at the break and faced off. to the very real possibility of soon being left behind for the first time in the playoffs.
“We didn’t do our best in the first half and I know the kids were down a bit,” said Versailles coach Ryan Jones, whose side would kick off to start. the third quarter. “We didn’t finish the first half well so we were frustrated.
“We talked about using that as motivation. The time to hang your head is over. We had to focus and prepare to play.
Tenacity is, of course, a virtue at Versailles.
There are half a dozen state football championships that attest to its esteemed position in the tradition of Tigerball.
Another week will tell if these Tigers add to that title legacy, but when it comes to mental toughness, well, there is no doubt that it existed after the way Versailles annexed a possible 28-22 victory and a spot in the V Division state championship game.
Forcing Harvest Prep to kick on its first possession in the third quarter, then driving 58 yards to score put Versailles in the lead to stay.
Adversity in the midst of that green light?
How about fourth and nine at Harvest Prep 28, which quarterback Carson Bey converted on a 13-yard run into a slippery Eli McEldowney?
“We were in vertical fours on this,” McEldowney said. “It’s just the instinct to slide and catch the ball. Carson found me and I guess I did a play.
It wouldn’t be his last, but Landon Henry first reprized his role in last week’s victory over seeded Preble Shawnee, heading down the path of an opposing pitch so skillfully it seemed that Henry was the intended receiver.
“I was supposed to go out on a blitz,” Henry said. “I saw him pretend to be the running back and then I saw a guy out of the corner of my eye walk past me. I just fell back and he threw it right at me.
Henry’s pick came three times after Versailles took the 21-14 lead and put the Tigers at 28 for Harvest Prep.
A stab from a touchdown seemed inevitable, but then came in fourth and 12 on the 17th and a Harvest Prep stoppage and subsequent change in momentum loomed.
Oh, but the mental toughness, remember?
This time, Noah McEldowney ran hard towards his defender on the edge, then stopped and sidelined just past the first goal scorer. Bey’s throw was real, McEldowney’s feet taped into the inside of the sideline and the Tigers had a new set of downs.
Henry hit the 3-yard line for the second time and Versailles had a 28-14 margin at the end of the third quarter.
“We had a few big conversions in fourth place there,” Jones said. “Noah came back and had a nice catch and set foot. Eli ran this little post route down the middle and Carson put it on him. The line held both times. It’s a team deal. It’s not just the guy who catches it. It’s not just the guy who throws. It’s all these guys.
Eighteen of those guys under Jones are seniors, and they’ve had that goal for a long time. Of course, they grew up in a community where the tradition is well known even though, as Henry noted, he was a year old when Versailles last played for a state title in 2004.
“It’s crazy to think of playing for a state championship,” said Bey, who has played like the team manager that he is, with 181 rushing yards on 22 carries and 6 of 9 successful assists. 80 extra yards. “Last year we lost in the regional semifinals and we weren’t going to let that happen again. We did what we had to do. But we haven’t finished yet.
Harvest Prep either, despite dropping two scores.
The Warriors pulled off a big pass in midfield that only a life-saving tackle from Chase McEldowney kept from scoring six points at the two-minute mark of the fourth quarter.
Tailback Jalen Jennings, bound for Bowling Green, propelled the first and Harvest Prep hit the pass with two points to come close to six points with 1:29 remaining.
A kick to the side was coming, so Versailles had another game to play.
And who better than the sure hands of a cousin McEldowney, this time again Eli.
“There are a lot of nerves there when you line up for that kick,” he said. “I saw the ball in the air and just grabbed it.”
Then the Tigers hope to get their hands on a seventh trophy in school history, but to do so, they’ll need to take it from reigning three-time champion Kirtland.
“I know they’re a great football team,” Jones said of the Hornets, who have won 55 straight games, one more than Versailles won from 1993 to 1997 in their three-crowned state title streak. consecutive. “They have a great program, a great tradition and they’ve won a bunch of games. I know it will be an incredible challenge for us.
Bruce Hooley is the Digital Marketing Manager for PressPros and the host of the Bruce Hooley Show on 98.9 FM The Answer.