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Sunday, July 14, 2024

Jr Tigers Bulled Over By Elkins

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  Pictured is Ethan Martin

The Jr Tigers have been through a harsh gauntlet in their first three games of 2021. Whereas many teams play lower-level cupcakes, the Tigers had three straight 4A programs to tend to. A loss to Mena, a win against rivals Waldron, and finally, the Tigers would face the Elkins Elks. The Elks beat Mansfield 40-16 in Elkins last season, but the Tigers didn’t care anything about the past. It was now game on.  

Zander Walters

With Elkins being one of the premier teams in the 4A, the Tigers suited up as underdogs but kicked off the game as the big dogs. The Tiger’s first offensive series was shut down by Elkins as the Mansfield’s power run game was sniffed out early. Elkins had the momentum early on offense and had undesirable plans for the Tiger’s defense when they stepped onto the field. It was Mansfield’s defense though who stepped up and said, “not so fast”. The Elks tried their hand at a couple of outside perimeter passes but were quickly taken down by Boston Elmore, Jeremy Strozier, Joseph Carter, and Dawson Robinson. Mansfield now had the ball back, but a fumble washed away the drive and sent the defense back on the field. Bound and determined to get their passing game going, Elkins tried to force the ball into the flats which was right where the Tigers wanted them as Zander Walters picked off the pass. Unfortunately for Mansfield, they would turn around and pass it right back to the Elks as Elkins intercepted a Tigers pass to close out the first quarter with a 0-0 score.   

#7 Jeremy Strozier and #79 Logan Ore

It was a struggle for either team to get their feet under them. Penalties by Elkin’s offense pulled back two big touchdowns while Mansfield had a few passes dropped that would’ve crossed into the end zone. Although the Tiger’s offense had problems putting points up early in the game, they did have plenty of big plays. Tiger running back Zander Walters did what he does best and pounded the Elks with each carry. That opened up runs by quarterback Jeremy Strozier to gain a few first downs. Dawson Robinson got in the mix also as he exploded three runs past the Elks defense each for first downs. Even with their highlight reel of runs, the Tigers still couldn’t finish the drives off as the 2nd quarter began to wind down. Elkins on the other hand found a way to sneak one past Mansfield’s defense to score with 2:48 left in the half. The Elks tacked on a two-point conversion and ended the first half with an 8-0 lead.  

Dawson Robinson

The numbers game began to prove fatal for the Tigers in the second half. The Elks were able to keep fresh bodies on the field while Mansfield had multiple players who rarely stepped off the field for a breather. The Tiger’s offense couldn’t sustain drives downfield and their defense weakened with each snap. Weakness is one thing though; quitting is a different animal. The Tigers never quit. Examples of this could be seen in the 4th quarter as Jeremy Strozier battled pain and exhaustion to pick up a few big runs and Ethan Martin, who plays defensive line, took an offensive handoff and played for big yardage. Trey Powell also left it all on the field as he chased an Elkins running back over 40 yards without giving up to make a touchdown-saving tackle at the 5-yard line. Elkins would go on to score three more times in the second half to end the game with a 27-0 final over Mansfield. “The kids showed a lot of heart and played hard in the first half,” said head coach Tim Cothran. “We have several kids without a lot of football experience so they are still learning the game. The lack of ninth-graders has really shown up in the last few weeks but the eighth graders are coming along nicely. I feel good going into conference play and believe we will be very competitive.”  

#1 Cooper Edwards and #27 Dominic Shores

With the Tiger’s non-conference schedule over, their focus will now turn to conference play and the Tiger’s goals of becoming 2021 Conference Champions. What better way to start off that run than with a game one matchup against Mansfield’s old foes, the Hackett Hornets. From Little League all the way to Sr High, all bets are off when the two towns play, and they always put on a show. Mansfield will host the Hornets on Thursday, September 16 with a kickoff time of 7:00 pm.   

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