By Lenny Sementi
Tuscola’s football team made quick work of their first round playoff opponent last Saturday, Oct. 27. Coach Andy Romine’s squad started quick and never looked back invoking the 40-point running clock rule before the half en-route to a 42-6 defeat of the Villa Grove Blue Devils. The Warriors improved to 9-1 overall on the year with the victory and advance to the round of sixteen in the IHSA playoffs for the fifth consecutive year and the fourth with Romine as the leader of the black and gold.
The Warriors reached pay dirt twice before VG took an offensive snap. Tuscola accumulated 330 yards of offense in a game that not one Warrior starter saw time after the break. The offensive line of Jonah Pierce, CJ Picaso, Cade Morgan, Mike Calderon, and Braydon VonLanken paved the way for 166 yards on the ground and kept QB Luke Sluder safe in the pocket. Tuscola scored six times, three on the ground and three via the pass while delivering 12 first downs in the first 24 minutes of the game.
Sluder delivered 212 yards of total offense, gaining 58 yards on six carries and 164 yards on 6 of 7 attempts through the air for three scores. Mathew Cantu was 2 yards better on the ground rushing for 60 yards on just three carries, scoring once. Brandon Douglas found the end zone, as well, twice on pass receptions and once more on the ground. The junior led the way with three receptions for 98 yards. Next up was freshman Jalen Quinn who hauled in a pair of Sluder’s throws for 50 yards and a score.
Defensively, 19 players in all recorded stops for Tuscola. Michael Badgett and Will Little led the way, each corralling six Blue Devil ball carriers. Badgett recorded five solos, one for loss, while Little found his way to four tackles for loss, moving VG back 16 yards in all. Safety Ashton Jones was next up checking in with four solos and one assist. Ben Dixon tallied four stops and also swiped a pass as did Silas Horton.
Cantu went in from 39 yards out on a jaunt over the left side on Tuscola’s fourth play from scrimmage. The junior running back toted it twice in a row, gaining 47 yards, and Sluder scrambled for 18 yards and found Quinn on an 11-yard out to set up the score. Coach Ted Minger’s kickoff team gave the ball right back to Romine and the offense thanks to an onside kick by Hortin that junior Grant Hardwick recovered at the 50.
The full story can be found in the Wednesday, Oct. 31 edition of The Tuscola Journal.