By Lenny Sementi
One of the most prized possessions in recent years for a Tuscola football player is a black practice jersey. The Warriors adopted the Nebraska Cornhusker Black Shirt defense tradition a while back, and it’s stuck. In Tuscola, it’s simple: If you shut out an opponent, the Black Shirts are handed out to the defensive players for practice. Or maybe it’s not that easy, the Warriors shut down Villa Grove in week one, but the coaching staff decided since there was a lot of alignment issues that the reward would have to wait.
Enter the 106th playing of the Cola Wars, Braydon VonLanken, Logan Tabeling and the boys in black.
The Warriors earned their Black Shirts dominating the Riders throughout the contest never allowing Arcola inside Tuscola’s 35-yard line all night en route to a dominating 34-0 victory.
Tuscola gave up just 125 yards of offense and allowed a mere 65 yards on the ground to a Rider squad that put up nearly 400 yards in week one. And the newest version of the Black Shirts outscored the Riders as well. Senior linebacker Gage Russell scooped and scored on a fumble caused by classmate Bradley Mast. Russell rumbled 56 yards for the Warriors first score after the half.
Arcola’s Austin Hopkins was held to 85 yards on 25 carries, while their QB Beau Jones ended the night with -26 yards on four touches. VonLanken led the way with eight tackles, two for loss, including a 10-yard sack of Jones. Next up was Tabeling, Cade Kresin, and CJ Picazo who all ended the night with six stops in a demonstration of team defense.
“We preach to them all the time, do your job, take on lead blocks, it doesn’t matter who makes the tackle,” head coach Andy Romine stated. “They did that all night long, our two OLB’s (Jacob Kibler andGage Russell) turned a lot of stuff back inside to our guys.”
In total, 15 Warriors recorded stops on the defensive side of the ball, forcing six three and outs in the game, three straight to start the game.
Senior signal caller Luke Sluder accounted for 223 yards of offense in the game, rushing for 96 yards on 18 carries and passing for 129 yards on 12 of 21 through the air. Mathew Cantu in his first varsity start at full back eclipsed the century mark rushing for 101 yards on 16 carries. He was the one who broke the ice for the black and gold on a 49-yard scoring scamper at the 6:09 mark of the first quarter making it 7-0 Warriors.
The full story can be found in the Wednesday, Sept. 5 edition of The Tuscola Journal.