Week in and week out it easy to find the stars of Tuscola’s football team but most of the time not many notice the work done up front on the line or in the shadows in back by senior defensive back and slot Lucas Kresin. Coach Andy Romine’s Warriors utilized a balanced offensive attack that provided 223 yards on the ground and another 220 yards through the air in 42-14 win over Flora in the opening round of the IHSA playoffs.
Kresin blocked well on the outside all day long and provided two of the biggest plays of the day ultimately breaking the back of the Wolves in round one of the IHSA playoffs. He picked off a pass on the first play form scrimmage on second possession of the third quarter as the Wolves took a shot deep following a Tuscola turnover and returned it thirty yards to the Flora 37 yard line. A few plays later the Warriors made it pay off when Warrior quarterback Logan Tabeling followed Caden Cradle, Jonah Pierce, Mike Calderon, Colton Guenther and Haven Hatfield over the left side for a four-yard score that increased the black and gold’s lead to 26-7. A three-yard pass from Tabeling to Brandon Douglas on the point after pushed it to 28-7.
Kresin’s second donation to the cause was a big twenty-four yard reception on Tuscola’s next possession on a third and twenty-seven that allowed the Warriors to convert on fourth down and then score two plays later on a ten-yard pass from Tabeling to Jalen Quinn pushing Tuscola’s advantage to 35-7 with just over eleven minutes left in the contest.
“Lucas is making plays for us all the time,” stated the coach. “And those two today were huge.”
Tight end Donovan Chester was strong as well in the run game as he and the O-line paved the way for three scores on the ground. Tabeling took advantage of the push up front gaining eighty-nine yards on a sixteen carries for a pair of scores, while Grant Hardwick averaged just over ten yards a carry delivering ninety-four yards and scored midway thru the fourth on a twelve scamper off the right side. Aiden Beachy converted the point after attempt putting Romine’s squad on top 42-7.
Tuscola scored the first two touchdowns on a fourteen-yard pass from Tabeling to Douglas and a three-yard run by Tabeling to take a 14-0 lead with nine-minutes and nine seconds left in the first half. Flora then made it interesting running off nearly nine minutes of clock with a fourteen-play scoring drive cutting the lead to 14-7 with thirty-nine seconds left on the clock. The Wolves survived an interception by Jake Kibler during the drive who fumbled it back on the return and also extended it on a fourth short following an off sides penalty by the Warriors.
Kickoff return Coach Connor Plotner’s group executed the ensuing kickoff to perfection. Quinn covered eighty-five yards in under twelve seconds winding up in the end zone. The super sophomore followed big blocks by Kibler, Douglas, Josh Dyer, Payton Armstrong, James Boyd and Tyler Walker to name a few pushing the lead to 20-7, which is where it would stay until the break. Armstrong did some damage on offense rushing for twenty-five yards on three carries.
“Coach Plotner takes a lot of pride in the kickoff return team,” stated Romine. “Jalen’s return was a big momentum swing entering the half. They controlled the clock in the second and that return was a quick answer.”
Tabeling was good on thirteen of eighteen passing for 191 yards and two touchdowns. Quinn also hung a few up connecting on two-of-two for twenty-nine yards. Douglas led all in receiving yards grabbing seven balls for ninety-four yards. Quinn was next with three catches for forty yards followed by Kresin who pulled in a pair for forty-four yards both in the third quarter.
Tuscola limited the Wolves leading rusher to just forty-one yards on fifteen carries, and gave up just over one hundred yards thru the air. Gibson Wells, Kibler and Douglas led a defensive attack that saw twenty-one Warriors secure at least one tackle. The trio each found their way to six tackles while Dyer and Tyler Walker accounted for five tackles. Hardwick and Kresin ended the day with four stops each.
The Warriors move to 8-2 on the year with the victory and will travel to Decatur for a second round game verse a solid state ranked St Teresa team. Tuscola will look to avenge a 28-12 loss for week five of the season. Both teams boast high-powered offenses and are riding winning streaks. Tuscola has scored over forty points in every game since the St T loss, three times eclipsing the fifty-point mark. The Bulldogs who ran past Hamilton County team in a lopsided victory haven’t scored less than forty-two points in any game since their loss in week six to Central A&M and have given up just thirty-four points total during the last five scrimmages.