UNION CITY – It was Homecoming at Mississinawa Valley and not the most ideal conditions for the candidates to be on display … but the show must go on.
Crowned as royalty Friday night were Grace Livingston as queen and Dalton Geesey as king.
It may have been a blustery, wet and chilly evening outside … but for Twin Valley South’s JJ Utz it might as well have been 70 degrees and a perfect evening.
Utz was a one man wrecking ball, using his feet to run the ball, his hands to catch the ball and his leg to kick the ball, leading the Panthers to a 33-0 win over the Blackhawks.
Mississinawa took the opening drive into the red zone of South that was set-up by a 30-yard run by Tyler Jenkinson and a long run by Nathan Rammel … but the drive was halted by an interception.
TV South got on the scoreboard when Jacob Bassler tossed a pass over the middle to Mike Meyers, who avoided a few tacklers and weaved 20 yards to the end zone. Add in JJ Utz extra point and the Panthers led 7-0 at 5:13.
The Hawks punted on their next possession, and South was on the move again until Mississinawa’s Geesey sacked the quarterback on the 33-yard line.
The Hawks, however, couldn’t move the ball and were forced to punt.
One more time it looked like MV would hold on defense, putting TV South in a long third and 15 situation … but Jacob Bassler’s 30-yard pass ended up in the hands of Utz, who rose above the defender and came down with the big catch to set-up Utz’s 4-yard run at 3:12 in the second quarter for the touchdown.
The Blackhawks were hoping to get into locker room at the half trailing by just 14 points … but they fumbled the ball at 2:01, and South capitalized on a 5-yard slant pass … but to who else, Utz, and with 26 seconds left in the half South led 20-0.
Twin Valley South added two more scores in the third quarter, a 28-yard catch by Utz and a 4-yard run by Ryan Bassler, to complete the scoring on the night and giving the Panthers a 33-0 Cross County Conference win over Mississinawa Valley.
“What a great game by JJ Utz tonight,” Twin Valley South head coach Tyler Cates said after the game. “He made a lot of great plays tonight.
“It was an ugly night for football … and on nights like this it’s important to have a good running game and protect the football, which we did well tonight,” Cates said.
“We worked on a lot of things this week that we wanted to do differently, and it took us a while to get going … but our kids are giving tremendous effort and playing as hard as they can; that’s what we are looking for, and I’m really proud of the kids tonight,” Cates said.
Mississinawa clearly feels the frustration and pains of trying to build a program.
“We just aren’t there yet. We drive the ball to start the game into the red zone but come away with nothing. We see all this positive stuff … but we have to learn to make plays and finish,” Mississinawa Valley head coach Pat Baker said.
“The effort is there … we had the fumble at the end of the first half, and I thought we were going to get a stop, but we didn’t make the play.
“When we can put all the positive things we’ve shown together in one game we will be a good football team,” Baker added.
It may be hard to see down the road … but the effort is being noticed.
“The coaching staff at Mississinawa is doing a great job. Their kids played harder then we have seen in the past, and they have four real nice players out there. They are getting better and much improved,” Cates said.
“Opposing coaches and referees have taken notice of the effort our kids have been showing, and tonight was no different, and that is a positive sign when trying to build a program,” Baker said.
“Coach Griffin had a good defensive game plan tonight, and even though we were out-sized our kids did a pretty good job initially stopping their (TV South) run game,” Baker said.
“We just aren’t physically able to match up right now and building a program, well it’s a numbers game. We have 25 kids … but if we can get 35 out that will go a long way in helping move the program forward,” Baker concluded.
TV South goes to 5-1, 4-0 in the conference and will host Bethel Friday.
Mississinawa falls to 0-6, 0-5 in the CCC and travels to National Trail Friday.
TVS: Mike Meyers 20-yard rec from Jacob Bassler (JJ Utz kick) 7-0
TVS: JJ Utz 4-yard run (Utz kick) 14-0
TVS: JJ Utz 5-yard rec from Bassler (kick no good) 20-0
TVS: JJ Utz 28-yard rec from Bassler (Utz kick) 27-0
TVS: Ryan Bassler 3-yard run (kick no good) 33-0