There are no more off-season practices. There are no more scrimmages. For the Mansfield Sr High Tigers, Friday night was put up or shut-up time. The Tigers traveled to Magazine to line up against one of the Top 10 teams in the 2A in what was pegged as one of the most anticipated games in the state for the first week. Although there were skeptics to the left and doubters to the right, Mansfield’s Sr High team stayed focused on the Rattler squad that was right in front of them.
The first quarter was a copy and paste game of cat and mouse for the Tigers. Mansfield received the opening kickoff and was stuffed with a quick three and out by the Rattlers defense. So in return, Mansfield’s defense wrapped up and re-gifted a three and out right back to Magazine. The Tigers found the end zone shortly after as Zayne Dugan hit Randy Claude with a quick shovel pass for the first touchdown of the game. Although they could not convert the extra point attempt, the Tigers were first on the board. The rest of the first quarter belonged to Mansfield’s defense. Screaming all over the field, the Tigers played like they were fighting for a Heavyweight Turnover Title belt. Mansfield created and recovered back to back fumbles by the Rattlers. Unfortunately, the Rattlers sang back by recovering a Mansfield fumble then picking off the Tigers for back to back turnovers of their own. As the first quarter ended, the Tigers held a narrow 6-0 lead.
It was not the best start to the game by either team as they racked up five total turnovers between each other in the first quarter. Head Coach, Tim Cothran must’ve put WD-40 in his player’s water between quarters because the rusty first-quarter team came back out like a well-oiled machine. Mansfield’s offense started off the second quarter and without skipping a beat, scored with a Dugan to Codi Chick 21-yard pass. Dugan called his own number for the two-point conversion giving the Tigers a 14-0 advantage. The Tigers continued their defensive dominance by adding two more notches in the Turnover Title belt and creating chaos in the Rattlers den. The offense caught fire and took the game over from there. Dugan zipped two more touchdown passes to Claude and one to Drew Elmore who tight-roped the sideline before darting for a touchdown of his own. The Tigers totaled four offensive touchdowns and hit every extra-point kick in the second quarter stretching the game out of reach and headed into halftime with a commanding 35-0 lead.
Reflecting on the great second quarter by his team, Coach Cothran said “We had a great team effort. It was a big transition from last week’s scrimmage where it seemed like just a couple of players were trying to get things going. Last night the whole team was contributing for the entire game. Last week we played nervous and intimidated but last night we looked entirely different.”
In the second half, Mansfield went to the ground game and cut through the Rattlers like a hot knife through butta’. Running backs Randy Claude, Austin Carlton, and Caleb Collier made every play a “3 yard and a cloud of dust” run as they punished Magazine’s defense. The final score of the game came from Tyler Woolbright in the third quarter with a zig-zag zippity do da dance from six yards out to put the scoreboard at its final score of 41-0.
“We scored six times in the game. Our seniors lead their young team to a big victory. Our junior class really showed up last night in all phases as well. We had sophomores score three of our six touchdowns. The team as a whole may be young, but they all played really well. What more could a coach ask for in his team? I’m just really proud of this team. There are some areas we need to get better at but they have come a long way and have continued to grow.” The Sr Tigers did put on quite the show Friday, but that game is done and over. The calendar will be turned to a new month in just a couple of days and one date has been highlighted all year. September 4th. Mansfield versus Waldron. The “Battle of Scott County”. Both the Tigers and the Bulldogs are coming off of big wins to set up one doozy of a game.