By RICK GREENE – Southern Ohio Today
ADAMS TOWNSHIP, CLINTON COUNTY – Sometimes giving the top-ranked team in the state all it wants just isn’t enough.
Clinton-Massie senior kicker Trevor McGuinness booted a 24-yard field goal as time expired to end Waverly’s unbeaten season in a riveting 31-28 thriller in a Division IV Region 16 semifinal at Clinton-Massie High School on Saturday.
The kick spoiled a Waverly rally that saw it erase a 14-point third-quarter deficit and have a possession to take the lead late in the game. The Tigers had gained the game’s momentum, but they’re potential go-ahead scoring drive stalled at the Clinton-Massie 27 when they turned it over on downs at the five-minute mark.
“I think we were getting a little tired,” Clinton-Massie Coach Dan McSurley said. “They were just wearing us down.”
Following the big stop, the Falcons put together a textbook drive that saw them use 13 plays to go from their 27 to Waverly’s 9 as they burned the clock down to :02.8 seconds before McGuinness’ game-winner. The kick followed all three Waverly timeouts and was good despite a poor snap that was put down by holder Koby Zantene, the team’s quarterback.
Two key plays in the winning drive led to the Falcons victory. Facing second and eight from the Waverly 37 with just over a minute to go, shifty running back Carson VanHoose found daylight on a pitch around the right end and rambled 21 yards to the Tigers’ 16 that put his team in business.
Earlier in the drive, McSurley rolled the dice on a fourth and two from Clinton-Massie’s own 35 with just over three minutes to go. Senior running back Cayden Clutter picked up five yards off the left side that not only kept the drive alive, but kept the Tigers from having a short field in the waning minutes.
VanHoose’s run was all the more impressive considering he left the game at the 7:07 mark of the third quarter. He previously suffered a knee injury in the playoffs and it came back to sideline him against the Tigers, but with the game on the line the junior made his return.
“We held him out of practice all week because of the injury. He was hurting pretty bad,” McSurley said. “I talked to our trainer (in the third quarter) and he said he didn’t think he’d be able to go. On the last series, he just ran onto the field.”
VanHoose finished with 162 yards on 21 carries and was a force in the Falcons offense that primarily relied on him, junior fullback Colton Trampler and Zantene. The Falcons also got good play from Clutter and churned out 340 rushing yards without completing a single pass.
Clinton-Massie used a tight formation in the wishbone and also gave the Tigers looks with double slots. Waverly Coach Chris Crabtree said his team made adjustments throughout the game, but the Falcons continued to have success on the ground.
“They are the kind of program that once you figure out something that they’re doing, they’ll find something else,” Crabtree said.
It was during VanHoose’s absence that the Tigers began chipping away at a 28-14 deficit.
With just under a minute left in the third quarter, Waverly quarterback Haydn’ Shanks found Zeke Brown on a four-yard touchdown throw. Brown went up and made a tough grab in traffic and managed to get his feet inbounds. Ben Flanders’ PAT brought the Tigers within a score at 28-21 entering the final 12 minutes.
Struggling to stop Clinton-Massie’s powerful running game, Crabtree tried to gain an extra possession with an on-side kick, but the Falcons’ Donald Brewer caught it in stride at the 50 and took it to Waverly’s 30.
Then the Tigers’ defense came up big. They forced Clinton-Massie to turn the ball over on downs when sophomore linebacker Wyatt Crabtree recovered a fumble on fourth-and-three from the Tigers’ 23.
Capitalizing on the momentum, Waverly used a combination of Shanks passes and Jaxson Poe runs to move from their 23 to the Falcons’ 36. Two third-down conversion and a fourth-down conversion saved a drive that culminated with Shanks finding Phoenix Wolf for a 36-yard score. Shanks and Wolf began finding success on sideline patterns and on the score, Wolf picked up a block from Penn Morrison, found the sideline and outraced Clinton-Massie defenders to the end zone.
“He is probably the best quarterback we saw all year,” McSurley said of Shanks, who finished 22-of-35 for 278 yards and four touchdowns.
With the game tied at 28, the Tigers smelled blood after a three and out forced a Clinton-Massie punt with just over seven minutes to go. Shanks and Wolf again went to work, including a 22-yard completion that took the ball to the Falcons’ 22. A fumbled exchange on first down was followed by a Poe run for a yard and a Wolf reception for five yards. On fourth and six from the 27, Shanks’ throw to Penn Morrison on the left sideline was broken up, turning the ball over on downs and setting up Clinton-Massie’s game-winning drive.
The Tigers never led in the game. The Falcons took the game’s opening drive and promptly marched 61 yards, then the Tigers immediately answered with Shanks hit junior receiver Will Futhey on a slant that turned into a 61-yard score.
The score remained knotted at 7 until VanHoose scored the first of his two touchdowns on a four-yard score with 8:19 left in the first half. It was again Shanks and Futhey who connected on a 38-yard scoring play on the next possession to make it clear the Tigers would not go away easily. Futhey led the Tigers with 140 receiving yards on seven catches and Poe had 102 yards rushing on 21 attempts.
Clinton-Massie took a 21-14 lead at the break thanks to VanHoose’s second score, a 1-yard plunge with 1:08 left in the second quarter. The Falcons then took their biggest lead of the game at 28-14 when their first drive of the second half ended with a Zantene 10-yard running score off the right edge.
“This was a great high school football game,” said McSurley, a 25-year veteran who has led the Falcons to two state championships.
Clinton-Massie (9-0) will play host to Cincinnati Wyoming on Saturday in the Region 16 championship. Wyoming defeated Germantown Valley View 34-28 in double overtime in Saturday’s other semifinal.
Shanks finishes as Waverly’s all-time leader in career passing yards. He broke the record in the Tigers’ first-round playoff win over Norwood and his 278 yards Saturday run his record number to 6,797.
Crabtree said the loss brought an end to the Tigers’ playoff run, but cannot diminish the impact the team’s senior class has had on the program.
“This is a special group of people. The seniors – in their four years – have set the standard for Waverly football,” said Crabtree, whose team (8-1) entered the game with the state’s No. 7 ranking and won two playoff games in the same season for the first time in school history. “This is what we want to do every year. We want to make a run every year. We want to go toe-to-toe with the best every year. These guys have established that.”
WAVERLY 7 7 7 7 – 28
CLINTON-MASSIE 7 14 7 3 – 31
CM – Kody Zantene 1 run (Trevor McGuinness kick)
W – Will Futhey 61 pass from Haydn’ Shanks (Ben Flanders kick)
CM – Carson VanHoose 4 run (McGuinness kick)
W – Futhey 38 pass from Shanks (Flanders kick)
CM – VanHoose 1 run (McGuinness kick)
CM – Zantene 10 run (McGuinness kick)
W – Zeke Brown 4 pass from Shanks (Flanders kick)
W – Phoenix Wolf 36 pass from Shanks (Flanders kick)
CM – McGuinness 24 FG