Photo courtesy of Brian Mott
The West Central Football League was created to allow small school programs to be competitive with like-sized programs. For the third consecutive year in the three-year existence of the WCFL, every program still has a shot at making the Playoffs. If that doesn’t define competition to the T, I don’t know what does. After Week 5, the 3rd and 4th Grade division of Mansfield and Mountainburg sit tied at 3-0 with Hackett nipping at their toes with a 2-1 record. JC Westside sits in the middle of the pack with a 2-2 record followed by a tie with West Fork and Lavaca at 1-2 each. Cedarville closes it out at 0-3 but their games have been very close.
The 5th and 6th Grade division is even tighter. Mansfield stands alone at the top with a 4-0 record, but after them, it’s anyone’s game. West Fork and Lavaca are tied for second, JC Westside and Mountainburg are tied for third, and Cedarville and Hackett are tied for fourth with Magazine ending the list. Each division could still swing for or against any program with three games left in the regular season.
Mountainburg hosted Lavaca in Week 4 where the programs each won one and lost one. In the 3rd and 4th Grade game, Mountainburg added the Golden Arrows to their growing treasure in the Dragons lear with a 28-0 shutout. Brody Guenther was the Dragon’s workhorse in the game and didn’t miss a beat against Lavaca. Guenther rumbled downfield with the ball on multiple carries and snapped the Arrows defense as he was able to cross into the end zone twice. Guenther may be the workhorse, but the Dragons aren’t a one-trick pony. If Lavaca planned on zoning in on stopping Guenther, RJ Young and Braxton Pixley made sure that those plans were foiled. Both Guenther and Pixley took aim at scoring and hit the bullseye by each getting a touchdown against Lavaca.
Where the Golden Arrows couldn’t punch the Dragons thick scales in the 3rd and 4th Grade game, Lavaca was able to zone in on the 5th and 6th Grade contest. Like a team of magicians, the Golden Arrows offense played smoke and mirrors with Mountainburg’s defense. Lavaca ran reverses, play-action passes, and quick runs to send the Dragons heads spinning. Lavaca’s offense was so impressive, Mountainburg’s WCFL Representative even complimented them on their great game. “Lavaca’s quarterback (Dawson Hawkins) threw the ball very well and always put the ball to where his receivers could easily catch it. Their running back (Finn Schmalz) wasn’t just a big physical back, he was really quick on his feet and seemed to only get better as the game went on.” Mountainburg was able to get a few big plays in the game though. Landon Linder was able to scoop up a fumble and dart into the end zone for a defensive touchdown and the Dragons put up another score, but it wasn’t enough as Lavaca edged out Mountainburg 14-12.
Hackett took it’s hive to the battlegrounds of JC Westside last Saturday. You know anytime the Rebels and Hornets square off at anything it’s going to be good and these games were no different. Hackett’s 3rd and 4th Grade was able to get a head start on JC Westside and put the pedal to the metal from there. The Hornets, Noah Rogers, lit up the field and was able to send the Rebels tripping over themselves as he scored both of the only touchdowns in the game. The Rebels had a few good drives on Hackett’s defense, but couldn’t find a way to cross over for any scores. Hackett’s defense stood strong all game as Hornets gave JC Westside the goose egg with a 12-0 victory. Hackett coach, Ray Rogers said, “I love my team and I couldn’t ask for a better group of kids. They play hard and love the game of football.”
The 5th and 6th Grade JC Westside Rebels wouldn’t play the game of déjà vu though. In a back and forth slugfest, the Rebels and Hornets went toe to toe and blow for blow in an epic battle on the gridiron. Hackett’s offense was able to put points on the scoreboard with Garrett Perkins and Rodney Stiles making their way into the end zone while Zayden Holbert punched in a conversion, but it wasn’t enough to outgun the Rebels. JC Westside had just enough black powder to fire off their cannons for an 18-14 win over Hackett. The Rebels victory leaves them with a 2-2 record and moves them just behind Lavaca and West Fork in the rankings. JC Westside is ahead of Mountainburg due to their tiebreaker victory over the Dragons.
West Fork was the only program to come out of Saturday with a sweep as they traveled south to board the ships in Cedarville. The Pirates are always stiff competition, but West Fork put a magnet on the Pirates compasses and sent Cedarville spinning in every direction. The 3rd and 4th Grade game was one that college defensive scouts would have loved to see. Both teams’ defenses were so good that the only score was by one of the defenses and that was West Forks defense that created a safety. The Tigers, Kyler Doss, Weston Kildow, and Wyatt Hughes were all over the place sinking ships anywhere the Pirates sailed with the football. Cedarville’s size was a huge factor in the game as it forced West Fork to revert from their rushing attack to have to play with their passing game. The Pirates too were forced to pass on a few occasions, but one of those passes fell right into the hands of West Forks Zack Preston for an interception. Coach Deonte McGaugh of West Fork said “Offensively, Kyler and Weston ran the ball good in the game. Even though we didn’t score against Cedarville with our offense, we moved the ball fairly well. Cedarville was big and strong and played a great game on their end as well.”
The 5th and 6th Grade game had a little bit of everything for everyone. There was a nice amount of scoring although both teams made sure that was limited with only 24 total points in the game. But it was West Forks passing game that led the way to a victory that night. Due to Cedarville’s size, the Tigers had no choice but to go to the air. Tigers quarterback, Carson Jones, accepted that challenge and performed almost flawlessly against the Pirates dense completing 5 of his 6 passes for 80 plus yards and 2 passing touchdowns. The play of the game was when Jones zipped a 25 yard TD pass to Chase Redlarzyck for a big touchdown. “Cedarville was bigger and stronger than us on both offensive and defensive lines. Our kids came focused on their jobs which allowed us to come out on top. Our defense did a great job of not allowing the big plays that have haunted us in the past. Sheldon McCawley led the defense’s way with 5.5 tackles” said Tigers coach, Rob Preston.
The Mansfield Tigers continued their 2020 streak Saturday as they went into the snake pit at Magazine to avenge their regular season and championship losses to the Rattlers in 2019. The Tigers walked onto the football field and never looked back as they straightened the Rattler’s coils en route to a 36-0 victory. Magazine gave it their all and left nothing in the tank trying to stop the Tiger’s powerful offense, but Mansfield was just too strong to stop. The win for Mansfield puts them alone atop the 5th and 6th Grade division with a 4-0 record. Magazine still has a shot for a Playoff position and eye to turn their season around as they still have Lavaca, West Fork, and JC Westside on the schedule.