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Sunday, September 24, 2023

Jr Tigers Stung By Hornets In Season Finale

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The Mansfield Jr High Tigers ended their season on a low mark after dropping their final game to the Hackett Hornets 38-14. The Tiger’s final record for 2020 was 3-7 overall and 3-4 in conference. If this is the first Mansfield Jr High article your reading this year, then you may think that the Jr Tigers weren’t good this season. But if you made it to the games, followed the stats, and knew the intangibles the Tigers faced this season, you’d understand that this is a special group with future greatness tattooed across their chests.

#61 Turner Wright

Mansfield faced an onslaught non-conference schedule to start the season. In past years, non-conference games were against other 3A teams or smaller 2A teams. This season though, the Tigers faced much larger 4A teams by traveling to Mena and Elkins while hosting Waldron at home. Conference wise, we all know that the 3A-1 is one of the toughest conferences in the state and that proved to be true yet again this season. But as the season progressed, the Tigers started getting in the groove. Losses weren’t blowouts and games became a lot tighter. Mansfield was blown out losing two of their first three conference games by a combined score of 36-86. In the last four games, on the other hand, the Tigers closed the gap by two of four with a combined score of 110-122. Those stats ladies and gentlemen show that the Tigers have the most important factor in competitive sports. They don’t give up when the chips are down.

#4 QB Peyton Martin

The Jr Tigers also had what may have been the smallest number of 9th Graders in the league this season. Suiting up only nine 9th Graders, Mansfield was low on the numbers, but not on talent and leadership. Quarterback, Peyton Martin, was a dual-threat to defenses all season. Martin could hit targets in the pocket or on the run and could scramble to gain yardage at any point. Tyler Turnipseed was the Tigers all in one player. Run, pass, catch, tackle, return kicks, anything Mansfield needed Turnipseed did and then some. Need a touchdown? Call Turnipseed. Need an interception. Hit redial and call him again. Wide Receiver and Defensive Back, Zach Hayslip, played the perfect quick route runner for solid catches while also defending opponents passing game by sticking to receivers like pine tar. Defensive End, Dakota Langford, was a man on a mission this season. Langford was such a force on the field that teams would shift their plays away from him purposefully so that they could stand a chance at gaining yards.

#10 Tyler Turnipseed

If there was a toughness and all-in award for Mansfield this year, it would be awarded to lineman Turner Wright. Wright played most of the season banged up with injuries but it wasn’t evident by how he played every snap. Wright played like a man on fire giving solid blocks on offense and vicious hits on defense. Trey Vaughan played the monster amongst men on defense. If a quarterback or running back tried to run outside the pocket, they were met with “Great Paw of Vaughan” as he’d snatch them and drag them to the ground. With a grip like a steel trap, once Vaughn grabbed hold of an opponent, the end result was imminent. Defensive Back, Raine Hecox, played her position without fear. Hecox would take at least one huge hit every game and bounce back up as if she was asking “Is that all you got”? A student of the game, Hecox continually learned from mistakes made and gave all she had all season.

#2 Raine Hecox

Lineman, Sammy Sellers, was the gentle giant on both sides of the ball. Sellers could move anyone at any time with ease. But if you got him pumped up or mad, then whoever was across from him found out rather quickly how it feels to fly as Sellers would toss them around like rag dolls. Last but not least, Defensive Back, Jeremiah Butler was exactly what any team needs. A player who was willing to play anywhere, at any time, in any way. A fresh body whenever one was needed, Butler was sure to step up and help.

#21 Jeremiah Butler

If anyone wanted players who gave their all against all odds, it was this group. These stellar 9th Graders will be moving up to Sr High football next season where they will surely make quite the impact. That though leaves a void in the Jr High. Although these players can never be replaced, their positions can be filled by a plethora of talented up and coming 8th Graders. When this group of 8th Graders was in 7th Grade, they ran the table going undefeated for the entire season against teams like Booneville, Charleston, Greenland, and others in their conference that year. Not only do they have the talent to fill the positions, but they also have the numbers too. This season’s Jr High had 15 8th Graders on the roster and if all return next season, look out!   

#79 Sammy Sellers

Most of these players contributed a lot and got substantial playing time this season which gives them added experience next year. Offensive weapons like Jeremy Strozier, Austin Oldham, Trey Powell, Toby Towe, Boston Elmore, and Aaron Person are poised to be atom bombs on the offensive scoreboard next season. Need the beef? This eighth-grade squad will have a full buffet in 2021. Linemen Austin Ruiz, Zach Chapman, Eli Garner, James Olinghouse, Dakota Deer, Andrew Pettigrew, and Cisco Fildes roll out the list on both the offensive line and defensive line. With that many quality linemen, fresh beef will always be prepared for the Tigers next season.

#30 Dakota Langford

In the end, the 2020 Jr High season showed Mansfield fans that they have a fighting Jr High football program. With imminent growth ahead and talent flowing out of the wazoo, the Mansfield Tiger Jr High football program will continue to feed the pipeline of Tiger football pride. Congratulations Mansfield Jr High and best of luck in 2021.

#84 Zach Hayslip
#72 Trey Vaughan
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