Hit the Road to Milford on Halloween to an opportunity that should send chills down fans spines
by Willie Lutz
Loveland, Oh.- "We've got two options. We can keep out chins held up high and fight like Tigers or we can pout and moan,” Loveland Tigers’ head coach, Fred Cranford, said after an embarrassing week five loss at Kings. The Tigers were a pathetic 2-3 due to sloppy play, dumb mistakes, and poor focus. Four weeks later, after they looked like their chances of reaching the playoffs were a thought of the past, the Tigers have rallied to four straight victories, outscoring opponents 159-34 in that span, including their most recent win, a 24-13 victory of Turpin.
Loveland has come alive in all three aspects of the game; offense, defense, and special teams. Offensively, Luke Waddell and the offensive line have rallied to carry the unit. The sophomore back, who couldn’t find a hole in the first couple of weeks, has now rallied to a league-leading 1312 yards rushing. Waddell is getting a great push from his offensive line now, which he thrived off of last season. When the hole isn’t there, he pushes and shoves until he makes his own.
In the match-up with Turpin, the Loveland running game was world-class overall. While Luke Waddell had 224 yards and three touchdowns (which seems to be an average day for him at this point), the team rushed for a cumulative 289 yards, averaging six yards a carry. The rushing unit alone out-gained Turpin’s entire offense.
Defensively, this team is night and day compared to the first half of the season. They would inexplicably lose their focus and allow the opposition to haul off huge gains, if not huge touchdowns. They have found clarity on the defensive line. The defensive line, led by Dylan Norton and Jake Saunders, are giving opposing quarterbacks nightmares.
Against Turpin, they only allowed 13 points. Turpin is a very steady team offensively, but they didn’t have an answer for the Tigers’ rush. They sacked Turpin quarterback, Bennie Stoll, three times, which forced him to play out of his comfort zone for a majority of the game.
Evan Burig is a man that doesn’t get the credit he deserves. His holder, Jeff Prifti, gets even less credit for his job. When the two are together, a very average Evan Burig turns into something special. Burig looks more comfortable with Prifti holding, which is a huge understatement. Although he did miss a 40-yard field goal against the Spartans, he didn’t miss by much. The left-footed kicker also drilled a 31-yard field goal that left no doubt it was going in from the time it left his foot until the time it split the uprights; something we didn’t often see without Prifti holding.
Now, the Tigers have spent a majority of the season on the outside looking in for the playoffs. In the state of Ohio, only the top eight teams in each region qualify, and with the Turpin win, they took the number 8 seed in this week’s computer rankings. The 6-3 Loveland Tigers will now face the rival 4-5 Milford Eagles in their final regular season matchup. The Tigers will be in the state playoffs with a victory, with a loss, things would be shaky. They will head on the Road on Halloween in a game that sends chills down fans spines, via the fact that a surprise loss could knock them out of play-off contention.
Tigers at Milford Friday. Game time is 7 PM. They will play for the CrossTownship Victory Bell.