At the start of Friday night there were 3 unbeaten teams in the CCC, but by nights end that number was whittled down to 2. Most followers of the CCC were expecting a slim margin of victory when undefeated Miami East met undefeated Tri-County North. And how would a bye week affect Tri-County North? Last season Miami East beat North twice, how would North respond this season? This years game was at Miami East – how would North respond to a big game away from home. Those were a few of the questions going into Friday nights game, but North answered them with a resounding roar as they blasted past the Vikings 42-14.
Field position, turnovers, and distributed scoring were all factors in North’s success. 5 different players crossed the goal line for North – you can stop one player, but it is hard to stop a team. It took a few series for North to get their motor in gear. They were 3 and out on offense their first two series and although the defense kept East scoreless in the first half, they gave up some yardage. So the bye week seemed to have an effect, at least in the early going. But as the game progressed, North got their mojo back and gained the early momentum.
Despite the windy conditions, North was getting good coverage and a good roll on their punts – putting East deep into their own territory to start drives. On the other hand, North was getting good field position and their first score was from a drive that started at midfield. Colton Booth connected with Kody Cordes for a touchdown pass. And Miami East did not help their cause during the night as they coughed up the ball 4 times. And this season North has been able to capitalize on gifts from the other team. So after scoring North kicked off and East promptly fumbled on the return. It was not easy, but North answered with a touchdown by Booth and now East was down by 2 scores.
So a lethargic North team had come alive. But they were not done yet. Their next scoring drive was a 95 yard drive capped with a Garret Woodyard run for a touchdown. East tried to put some points on the board right before halftime, but after driving to the North 15, Trey Summers sacked the East quarterback to put them in long yardage. They could not convert on 4th down and South entered the locker room with a 21-0 lead and equally as important - the momentum.
North continued where they left off in the 3rd quarter. Blake Lawson caught a touchdown pass and Dustin Green scored on 14 yard run. East made a last gasp effort in the 4th quarter where they had some success running in between the tackles and were able to score a couple of touchdowns. But it was too little, too late as North coasted to an anti-climactic 42-14 win. Setting up a huge rivalry game with South next week as the last two unbeaten teams in the CCC clash.
“The effort from our kids was just outstanding”, stated Coach Derringer after the game, “but we have a big game ahead of us next week in Twin Valley South. It’s going to be a big game for us. Colton Booth had another good game and he made some good decisions at the quarterback position. We worked on his passing game this week and I think it showed tonight in the first half. But I give East a lot of credit, we had a running clock on them – but they responded. They went down the field and stuck it in. Then got an onsides kick and scored again. And it showed us that we still have things we need to work on. South has a good running game and our defense has to show up.”
Is this the best team coach you coached? “I don’t like to compare one team against the other, we have had some great athletes here the last 3-4 years and we have a great group this year too.”
At the end of the interview coach Derringer flatly stated that, “I want to be other there with my guys” – referring to the team. You could tell that he would rather be celebrating with his players than speaking with a cluster of sports reporters. And I couldn’t blame him - last years losses against Miami East(one regular season and one playoff loss) have been avenged and it was time for North to bask in the afterglow of a job well done.
Will this be the last time that East and North play this season? Maybe not as both teams are in the same playoff district. So there is a chance that the two foes will meet again. But North has to prepare for another big game against unbeaten South next Friday. The CCC title and the playoff’s are factors dependent on the outcome of this game.