By Lenny Sementi
Tuscola’s football team became playoff eligible Friday, Oct. 5 by up ending a very good Warrensburg-Lathem team 35-21.
Head Coach Andy Romine’s Warriors scored first and last behind a solid performance from Luke Sluder at quarterback. It was the sixth time in the first seven weeks of the season the Warriors took on an unbeaten team. The senior led the black and gold past the previously unbeaten Cardinals (6-0) donating 131 yards through the air and another 69 yards on the ground in the victory.
Sluder gained 69 yards on the ground on 22 carries and was good on 5 of 12 passes for 131 yards. Brandon Douglas was the leading receiver, grabbing two ball for 88 yards. Grant Hardwick hauled in one catch for 25 yards, while Ashton Jones gained 28 yards on four carries. Josh Dyer and Cade Kresin both ended the night with a team leading eight tackles. Gage Russell was next up with seven stops, while Lucas Kresin and Jones each donated four tackles to the cause. Michael Badgett had four as well, two for loss but also stopped a Cardinal drive intercepting a ball off the defense left side and returned it to 43 yards entering Warrensburg territory.
Coach Romine was very happy to come out of this game with a win, but let it be known that his squad still hasn’t hit full stride.
“It’s week eight, and we still have room for improvement. Injuries have forced new guys on the field and some of them are having to learn on the fly,” commented the coach. “Our up side is still big, on most plays we are one block away from a score.”
Sluder got the ball rolling on the Warriors’ first drive, scoring from 12 yards out on a run through the middle of the Cardinals’ defense. The second-year starter kicked started the drive with runs of 9 and 5 yards. Ashton Jones also donated to the cause with a 12-yard jaunt for a first down early in the drive. Tuscola missed the point after putting the Warriors on top 7-0 with 9 minutes and 50 seconds left on the clock.
Warrensburg fired right back on the ensuing drive with a 13-yard pass and the point after conversion and moved in front by one, 7-6, with 4:50 left on the clock in the first frame.
Sluder was at it again early in the second quarter punching it in from 1-yard out to put the Warriors in front for good. He then found Logan Tabeling in the right side of the end zone on the two-point conversion pushing the lead to seven, 14-7. Tuscola set up score number three with a 70-yard pass from Sluder to Brandon Douglas, which left the Warriors at first and goal from three. One play later Sluder went in, and Cade Kresin made the point after making it 21-7, Warriors. Back came Warrensburg as the Cardinals executed a perfect two minute drill for a score with three ticks left on the clock, pulling them to within seven at the break 21-14.
The full story can be found in the Wednesday, Oct. 10 edition of The Tuscola Journal.