NEW MADISON – Lost scoring opportunities and early mistakes on a windy and rainy evening would end up being too much for Tri-Village to overcome as they dropped a 14-12 decision to Riverside in the 3rd round of the OHSAA DV VII Region 28 football playoffs.
After a 75 minute weather delay the Patriots took the opening drive down the field and looked like they were going to score and take control early. But a pass into the endzone was wrestled away by a Riverside defender to negate the score.
Two plays later Riverside all state running back Kale Long went 71 yards around the right side broke a few tackles then cut back into the middle outracing the rest of the Patriots for a touchdown in a stunning reversal of momentum early on. Theyconverted the two-point conversion to go ahead 8-0.
Undeterred TV put together a second drive that look destined to score … only déjà vu struck again with the Pirates intercepting a pass in the endzone to stop another scoring opportunity.
The Pirates scored with 5 minutes to play in the second quarter on an 18-yard pass from Myles Platfoot to Landon Stewart pushing the lead to 14-0.
At this point in the game many who have watched the Patriots all year know they have a high powered offense as they came into the game averaging 52 points a game and as they had come to expect they struck back with Layne Sarver crossing the goal line on a QB keeper from 2-yards out and to trail 14-6 at the break.
In the 3rd quarter Tri-Village stopped the Pirates on their first two possessions and nearly blocked a punt in the endzone to set-up the PATS with good field position.
Sarver took advantage and broke a few tackles on a 49-yard run but the two-point conversion was denied and the Patriots still trailed 14-12 with 3 minutes left in the 3rd period.
Neither team was able to get out of their own way the remainder of the game fighting bad field position, penalties and miscues andthere would be no dramatic comeback for the home team as time expired in the contest with Riverside moving on in the play-offs.
It was not the fairy tale ending the Patriots had worked so hard to prove they can play with anyone in 5 shorts years.
It will however serve as a great lesson for a young program on how important it is to execute in close games as one or two plays is often the difference between winning and losing.
Tri-Village football coach Robert Burk talked about that after the game.
“Our mantra all year had been built on three things; value the ball, win blocks and tackles and execute alignment and assignments … and simply put we didn’t do any of those things tonight. The weather didn’t affect us any more than it affected Riverside. Hats off to them, they had a great game-plan. They valued the ball, they won blocks and tackles and they executed better than us. They made less mistakes than we did and took advantage of our mistakes. It leaves us with a bad taste in our mouth because we haven’t made those types of mistakes all year, but our kids learned that in big games vs quality opponents, every mistake is amplified,” said a disappointed Burk.
“Make no mistake I am so proud of this team, these players and coaches. The progress that we made this year is due to the amount of work everyone has put in each day of the off-season and each day of practice in the season. It has been so much fun to watch this team play this year. They have attacked each day with joy and are the closest knit team I have ever been around. I’m proud of how they played for each other and how they met every challenge put in front of them this year. I’m proud that we will forever be the last CCC football champions,” Burk added.
In his 4th year as coach for the Patriots coach Burk gave special praise to 4 year player Dylan Finkbine and his seniors.
Finkbine was a 4 year starter that has been here from the beginning with me and stuck it out when we struggled to make it this year. He is the leader of this team. He pushed his team mates with his effort in practice and he pushed his coaches with his desire to understand why we make the decisions we make. He has earned every bit of the success we have had. We love and will miss this senior class that has kids like Dylan Finkbine, Blake Brandenburg and Devin Swick who we have relied heavily on these past few years, Burke added.
Despite losing valuable seniors there is plenty of optimism toward the future.
“We have a great core group returning next year,” Burk said. 10 returning starters on offense and 6 returning starters on defense. We also have solid sophomores like Jace Lipps, Wilson Suggs, Seth Cook and Austin Rismiller that we expect to step up and contribute for us next year,” Burk added.
The Patriots close the door on the Cross County Conference in football and will look forward to continued success in the new Western Ohio Athletic Conference.
“I know we are upset, but I expect us to come back ready to work in the off-season. Our success this season just sets a higher expectation for our first year in the new conference next year,” Burk concluded.