LEWISBURG — Tri-County North closed its season out in a big way, routing in-conference and in-county rival National Trail 57-0 on Friday, Oct. 30.
The Panthers scored 30 points in the first quarter alone, forcing numerous turnovers and playing with a short field for most of the game.
“Our guys were really focused and wanted to come out and play really well and I think we did that,” said North head coach Bill Derringer.
Trail lost leading running back and linebacker Ben Sullivan near the beginning of the game as North got to the scoring early.
Losing him is hard. He’s been our best player for weeks now. He cracked a rib last week and tried to give it a go with a rib vest,” said Trail head coach Randy Kerns. “If he doesn’t play, there is something seriously wrong with him. That’s just the type of kid he is.”
North first score came from a 24-yard pass and catch from Lane Gunder to Logan Elmore to just two and a half minutes into the game. They then recovered a fumble on the ensuing drive, taking it to the two-yard line before Garrett Woodyard punched in the short yardage score with 7:36 left in the quarter.
Three minutes later, Gavin Overholtz punched in a third touchdown for the Panthers, pushing their lead to 21-0. On their next drive, they fumbled on the six-yard line but forced a National Trail safety on the drive with 11 seconds remaining in the quarter. North received the ball on the punt, and had time to run one more play before the quarter expired. It resulted in a 33-yard touchdown run by Woodyard, giving them the 30-point led.
North tacked on three more by the end of the half, as Woodyard scored once again on a 32-yard run. He was joined by Elmore, who scored off a 63-yard touchdown and a 17-yard run by Alex Kerby. They went into the break up 51-0.
“I just really appreciate how the seniors and upperclass handled the game,” said Derringer. “At halftime we said we were going to play JV in the second half. I think it showed a lot of class out of our upperclassmen. They felt what they had done was successful so they can give other kids a shot to play. That helps build the program.”
The Panthers added only one more touchdown in the second half, playing with a running half for the remainder of the game. The touchdown came off a two-yard run by Josh Heindl with just under five minutes left to play.
Woodyard led all rushers with 89 yards on six carries and three touchdowns. He added two interceptions on the defensive side too. Elmore had 72 yards on two carries for a score as well as two catches for 39 yards and a touchdown. Gunder was 2-for-6 through the air with 39 yards, a touchdown, and an interception.
For Trail, Michael Ray had three rushes for 44 yards and quarterback Michael Bane went 7-for-14 for 95 yards and two interceptions.
Bane was the sole senior on the Blazers roster but he helped lead them to three victories and help jump start the program for Kerns and his crew.
North finished the year at 7-3 and tenth overall in region 22. They missed the playoffs for the first time in five years.
Trail ended the year at 3-7.
“I thought we were progressing very well. We had kids that had no technique and no fundamentals at all, even returning kids. It took forever to build that,” said Kerns. “It’s tough to see when you have scores like that, but I know where they started. To see them where they are now is pleasing to me. I’m excited. It’s tough but the kids know where we are deficient at and we have a good core of kids.”