By Drew Terhall
SIDNEY — On Sept. 29, the Versailles Tigers walked out of Anna with a 41-14 win. Fast forward to Nov. 17 at Sidney Memorial Stadium, the Tigers walk out with a 41-14 win over Anna and are Regional champions in Division VI, Region 24.
Head coach Ryan Jones said it feels great as a coach to see his players, who he has been working with for weeks now, earn this win and a trip to the State Semifinals.
“Tremendous game. Couldn’t be more proud of the way our guys played. The heart, the determination, the preparation they had all week. That’s a very good Anna Rocket football team that we were able to beat tonight,” Jones said.
Both teams exchanged goal line stops on their first possession. Versailles went down to the four-yard and were stopped. Anna was stopped at the two-yard line just as the second quarter started.
Jones said he was disappointed not coming away with points on the first possession, but was happy with the team’s response.
Backed up on their own two-yard line, senior quarterback Michael Osborne used his legs to give them some breathing room. All game long, Osborne picked up chunk play after chunk play with his legs to keep the ball moving for the offense.
Down to the two-yard line, junior Ross Francis scored to go up 7-0. Jones said Osbrone had his best game of the season, especially extending drives with his legs like he did on that scoring drive.
“Michael was unbelievable. He probably had his best game of the year, running the ball for sure. He’s just a get of out jail free card sometimes. The guy can make things happen. Did a great job of not forcing passes tonight. Reading the defense, knowing when the pass wasn’t there and making plays with his legs,” Jones said.
The Rockets were starting to drive down the field to respond to the Tigers score before Osborne picked off junior Alex Shappie. Osborne returned it to the Anna two-yard line.
After a timeout to catch his breath, Osbrone snuck it in for the touchdown to go up 14-0 with 2:09 left in the second quarter.
Versailles wasn’t done. Just before the first half was going to expire, Osborne found senior Lane Bergman for a 20-yard touchdown to enter the half up 21-0.
Jones said that pass was one of the better plays Osborne made in the game, even a bit better than his interception.
“What was even better or more impressive was the pass he threw for the touchdown where he read the defense and hit Lane Bergman, Night Train Lane as I call him,” Jones said. “Night Train made a great play and Michael made a great read for the pass.”
Anna’s offense responded on their first possession of the second half. Shappie found senior Trey Heitkamp for a four-yard touchdown pass to make it 21-6.
Then the running game for the Tigers took over. Jones said they were able to establish more of the run game as the game went on.
Senior Joel Gehret was the main running threat once again. He scored his first touchdown in the third quarter from five yards out to extend their lead, 28-6.
With a 1:47 left in the third, Shappie found junior Noah Aufderhaar on a trick play for a touchdown pass.
Down 28-14 right before the fourth quarter, the Rockets kicked an onside kick. Senior Levi Barga returned the kick to the Anna 40-yard line.
At the beginning of the fourth, Gehret ran in from 21 yards out for the touchdown. The defense followed up the score with a fourth down stop, setting up the offense in Anna territory.
Jones said the defense did their job containing an prolific Anna offense. They forced them to drive down the field and took away the big plays.
Osborne used his legs once again on a fourth down conversion to get down to the one-yard line. After a false start, Gehret scored six from six yards out to make it a 41-14 game.
Jones said it was an all around good win as the defense, offense and special teams stepped up. It will take another total team effort to get back to Canton.
The team will enjoy this victory. Then at the start of the week, they will be locked in for the challenge ahead.
“We’ll enjoy this, but we still got another game to get ready for next week. We’ll approach it with the same philosophy, the same system that we’ve approached every week with. We’ll get after it this weekend as coaches and come Monday, I know the players will be eager to get the gameplan and install it,” Jones said.
Versailles will take on Columbus Grove on Nov. 24 at Wapakoneta Mercy Health Wapak Ford Field at 7 p.m.
Contact Daily Advocate sports editor Drew Terhall at [email protected]