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Tuscola Warrior football seniors look to lead on the gridiron

It seemed like just yesterday Tuscola’s football team wrapped up their last football season. But in all reality it was a mere four months ago after the fall of 2020 season was cancelled due to the pandemic. Head coach Andy Romine waved goodbye to a solid senior class that went 4-2 in the shortened 2021 spring season. There is another group of seniors that have been waiting their turn and are looking to put their own stamp on the 2021 campaign.

Returning senior quarterback Payton Armstrong and 2nd Team All Central Illinois Conference honoree will work behind o-lineman and fellow seniors Haven Hatfield, 2nd team All CIC tackle, Chase Jones and Austin Lewis. This group will be paving the way up front for senior running back Patrick Pierce. Pierce and Armstrong will do most of the heavy lifting in the run game. Senior Caden Baer will be one of Armstrong’s primary targets. Baer does a little bit of everything on the offensive side of the ball. 

“Payton and Patrick will be formidable in the backfield together,” the coach said. “They both have made big improvements in the weight room and its shows on the field.” 

Classmates Eric Badgett, Alyssa Williams and Krish Patel will also be a part of the receiving crew. Badgett will do most of his damage though on the defensive side of the ball joining up with Baer and Patel in the defensive backfield. Classmates Doug Ruggles and Ian Buchannan will rotate behind the line as well. Where yet another fourth year player Dillon Price will take up residence at nose guard. Pierce will anchor the black and gold at middle linebacker. He won the team’s defensive award, as well as the Dietrich-Huber tackle award while collecting first team All CIC accolades. Rounding out the line backing crew with Pierce will be Jordan Sanchez, Tyson Macaulay, Jordan Quinn and Armstrong.  

Juniors Hunter Branca and Chris Boyd will be on both sides of the ball on opening night. Boyd will take up residence on both lines of scrimmage. Juniors Grant Kaufmann, John Claxon and sophomore Aiden Weaver have taken reps on the o-line in practice and also patrolled the defensive front with Ben Hornaday. Branca returns as a top receiver from the spring and a mainstay at corner. Adi Patel, like Branca, plays wide out and DB. Sophomore Austin Cummings should also make an appearance at safety. 

“The guys put in a lot of work in the weight room this summer despite such a short break,” stated Romine. “We open up with a couple of tough non-conference games on the road and then move into league play so we need to be ready out of the gate.” 

Tuscola travels to Arcola this Friday for a date with Purple Riders for the 107th version of the Cola Wars. Tuscola sits at third on the states all time wins list and the Riders are just one spot back in fourth. Arcola ended the spring 5-1 overall. Their one loss was to the Warriors week two opponent Cumberland who is one of three undefeated teams on the schedule. Two CIC opponents Decatur St. Teresa and Central A&M also ended the spring season unblemished and will be waiting later in the fall.

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