By Lenny Sementi
On a night that looked like any aerial attack would be grounded, Tuscola’s football Coach Andy Romine stared a rainy night straight in the face. The fourth-year leader of the Warriors launched a balanced offensive attack that not only included more than 200 yards on the ground but also more than 200 yards through the air as the Warriors ran past a strong Central A&M team.
Luke Sluder engineered the assault on Mother Nature and the undefeated Central A&M Raiders, passing for 208 yards on 9 of 15 passing and running for 117 yards on 20 carries, which led the Warriors to a 55-28 victory in their Central Illinois Conference opener. Mathew Cantu was a big part of the ground game, gaining 84 yards on 14 carries, averaging 6 yards a carry.
Brandon Douglas was Sluders’ top target grabbing four receptions for 114 yards and two touchdowns both more than 40 yards. Next up were Hayden Cothron and Cade Kresin. Cothron returned to the field after nursing a knee injury during baseball season and hauled down two balls for 56 yards, while Kresin collected two of his own for 18 yards, helping the Warriors to 22 first downs in the game.
Defensively Michael Badgett led the way with nine stops, including five solo tackles, limiting the Raiders to 54 rushing yards on 24 carries and just seven first downs. Kresin was next in line adding six tackles, four solo, to his season stat sheet. Kenny Lucas tallied six tackles, as well, from his safety spot, while both Jacob Kibler and Ben Dixon found their ways to five tackles apiece.
“I was very proud of the way we dealt with the weather,” stated the coach. “Before the game I wasn’t sure we could pass the ball, and that wasn’t the case, we also never turned the ball over in wet sloppy conditions. Our fans came out in force on the road despite the rain, and both the coaching staff and the players noticed that and appreciated it.”
Tuscola entered the contest with two shut outs to their credit. That however didn’t phase the host Raiders who forced a three and out and then went on a three-minute drive to open the contest ending with a 29-yard TD pass putting the Warriors behind for the first time this year. Romine’s squad responded with a 17-play drive that culminated with a 7-yard TD run by Sluder that knotted the game at 7’s after a Kresin point after.
The full story can be found in the Wednesday, Sept. 12 edition of The Tuscola Journal.