by Willie Lutz
Loveland, Oh.- All good things must come to an end, and that’s what the Loveland Tigers’ football team learned on Friday. The Tigers traveled to Miami University’s Yager Stadium for a pairing against Lakota West for the Skyline Chili Crosstown Showdown where they would eventually fall 49-46.
The game started off with an image of last year’s playoff run, when on the first play after kick off, junior quarterback, Drew Plitt, fired a 56-yard pass down the field to senior receiver, Giovanni Ricci. The play was then quickly followed up by a 9-yard touchdown jog by sophomore running back, Luke Waddell. While the offense came out firing on all cylinders, the defense opened up their 2014 campaign looking porous and lost.
The defense that looked invincible last season looked all too human. They struggled to stop even the simplest of plays from Lakota West’s offense. West’s quarterback, Blake Darland, was following a simple system against the Tiger’s weakened defense. He would hand the ball off to running back, Kole Gentry, on first and then fire the ball to one of his plentiful receiving options and easily pick up 14 yards for a first down.
The Tiger secondary had no match for the attack, especially without shutdown senior corner, Jeff Prifti, who is currently recovering from an offseason ankle injury. The Loveland secondary allowed Darland to pass for 356 yards and throw for five touchdowns.
However, credit must be given where credit is due. The Tigers were down 42-24 at one point and fought until literally the final second of the game in an attempt to win. With a little under a minute left, and the Tigers only trailing by three, Lakota West made a flimsy punt that put the Tigers on the West 22-yard line. After a string of quick, strategically calculated plays, the Tigers wound up on the Lakota West three-yard line with about 20 seconds left. Head coach Fred Cranford called a timeout to set up the final play calls. The first would be a handoff to Luke Waddell that would put them on the one. The next; a quarterback keeper that would eventually ground Drew Plitt three yards away from a win.
The Loveland Tigers will now have to start their 2014 off 0-1 after a perfect record in 2013. Although the Tigers nearly snuck up to pick up a win, it’s not fair to ask a team to win when an opponent scores an easy 49 on them. Although Luke Waddell carried the ball for 162 yards and four rushing touchdowns and had one receiving TD, a heavy offensive attack wasn’t able to carry the weight of the weak defense.
Watch Lutz's Post Game Rap with Loveland Head Coach, Fred Cranford.