By Lenny Sementi
There were more than a few coaches in the state that questioned the need to play football this spring after last fall was postponed and no post season would be included. Why should we even play six games with no prize at the end of the season but that wasn’t Tuscola coach Andy Romine’s take. “It was an opportunity for us to spend time together as a family truthfully,” stated the coach. “That’s what Tuscola football is a family, my son Callen is our ball boy and he has more big brothers than anyone I know, it also gave us a chance to celebrate our seniors and for our underclassmen to get better.”
Romine and his staff sent their seniors out in style, winning the last three contests to go 4-2 on the year including a 56-19 victory over Shelbyville this past Friday evening in the season finale. The Warriors erupted for 489 yards on offense posting 414 yards on the ground and 75 through the air compounding 25 first downs while the defense posted a season-best nine sacks and 11 tackles for loss while limiting the Rams ground attack to 20 yards on 20 carries thanks to a few seniors up front Kyler Scaggs and Alex Brooks.
Senior Grant Hardwick followed classmates Mike Calderon and Hans Goodmann rushing for 200 yards for the second time this season on 16 attempts and was one for one passing finding classmate Nate Koester for a 21-yard grab. Fourth year player James Boyd was part of the ground and pound punched one in from five yards out.
Warrior QB Payton Armstrong did some damage in the rushing game as well with 181 yards on 11 carries. He was good on four of seven through the air including two scoring strikes. Senior Nate Koester was his top target grabbing three passes for 41 yards. Patrick Pierce secured the fourth on a 14-yard touchdown pass over the middle. Pierce led the way on dense with 12 total tackles and two sacks to his credit. It was a milestone day for Pierce and his family as his dad and linebacker coach tallied win number 200 during his time with the Warriors.
Senior Tyler Walker was next flying his way around the field finding his way to eight stops, including three sacks. He applied the pressure on the Rams first drive and Boyd picked off a Shelbyville pass setting up the Warriors second score, a one-yard run by Hardwick at the 8:23 mark of the first quarter. The first Tuscola score was an 11-yard run by Hardwick as well on their first play from scrimmage set up by a 66-yard kick return by Caden Baer on the opening kickoff. Senior kicker Aiden Beachy’s point after was good, making it 7-0. The Manchester College commit was good on eight of eight point-after attempts.
He added his third on a one-yard plunge early in the second and then scampered 77 yards for his fourth TD of the first half at the 6:30 mark of the stanza. Shelbyville gambled on two deep balls and it paid off for a pair of TD’s. Sandwiched in between was Boyd’s score and right before the break Armstrong found Pierce capping a 70-yard drive that took less than a minute off the clock sending Tuscola to the locker room on top 42-13.
Armstrong hit Koester on a 20 yards scoring strike and then scored for 37 yards out on a run off the right side making it 56-13 while setting the clock in motion. Baer ended his night with seven stops, Eric Badgett five and two sacks while Koester and Boyd each donated five stops. Hardwick, Tyson Macauley and Jordan Sanchez all tallied a sack.
“I tell the boys at the start of the season we’ll play our best ball at the end of the season and that can’t be more true this year,” stated the coach. “Our seniors left their mark on this program, and will be Warriors for Life.”
If you ever watched the movie ‘We are Marshall’ you will understand what occurred at the end of the night. No one wanted it to end, No one left the field, seniors and parents coaches and fans meandered around the field for an extended amount of time. Was the season necessary, you bet it was. Was it a good season, no, it was a great one, one that will be remembered for a long time as these seniors and their buddies battled through adversity to come together as a family.