The Mansfield 7th Grade Tigers have had to learn through the school of hard knocks so far this season. They have faced learning a new style of football, low numbers, huge opponents, quarantines, and more. On Thursday, September 23rd, the 7th Grade Tigers traveled to West Fork with exactly eleven 7th Graders in uniform for the first time this season. With an 8-0 win, Mansfield proved that they not only can but will stand against all forms of adversity without backing down.
Facing down a West Fork team who had monstrous players, the 7th Grade Tigers quickly showed why it’s not the size of the Tiger in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the Tiger. Mansfield’s defense used their smaller stature to their advantage as they shot gaps in the West Fork offense to create chaos in the backfield. West Forks’ favorite play was a dive right up the gut of the field. Fortunately for the Tigers, middle linebacker Levi Langford stood strong to punch West Fork right back in the gut each time they tried to run the play. Being shut down in the run game up the middle, West Fork tried to pitch the ball and test the Tigers defense outside of the pocket. It was a good plan on paper, but what that plan didn’t include was the Tiger’s quick speed and excellent open-field tackling abilities. Tigers Gunner Williams, Billy Sellers, Holden Powers, and Brennon Collie were able to seal and stamp West Forks plans and hand it right back to them. The headhunter of the bunch though was Mason Sterling. Sterling was all over the field and if he wasn’t in on the tackle itself, he was merely inches away from being in on it.
The Tiger’s offensive line was dwarfed by the massiveness of West Forks defensive line. Dynamite comes in small packages though and the Tiger O-Line consisting of Noah Cole, Levi Langford, Braxton Turnipseed, Weston Harrison, and Nathan Dyer opened up lanes for their backs that were big enough for a Mac Truck to drive through. Taking advantage of those holes was running back “Stone Cold” Cordell Stone. It only took Stone three plays to gain 25 yards and two first downs for the Tigers in their opening drive. When West Fork began to catch on to Stones running patterns, Mansfield unleashed their not-so-secret secret weapon………quarterback Gunner Williams. Anytime Williams took aim with his feet, he hit the target. It was the combo of Stone being the rock and Gunner being the sling that struck West Forks Goliath defense right between the eyes. The dynamic duo teamed up on a quick pitch and Stone bobbed and weaved his way 31 yards downfield for a Tiger touchdown. Williams took the direct snap and went untouched for the two-point conversion to give the Tigers an 8-0 lead at the half.
Mansfield’s defense was challenged to keep West Fork scoreless at the beginning of the game and they took that challenge to heart. The Tiger’s defense swarmed West Fork for the rest of the game. Two halves, eleven 7th Graders, and zero points allowed as Mansfield closed out the game with an 8-0 victory. With their first win of the season under their belt, the 7th Grade Tigers now know what it takes. Their schedule doesn’t get any easier though. Next up will be the Greenland Pirates on Thursday, September 30th and they are definitely not a pushover program. And with Mansfield growing the way they are now, neither are they.