WEST ALEXANDRIA — With new head coaches for Twin Valley South and Tri-County North – Chris Fogle and Adam Hall, respectively – it’s a new era for the cross-county rivalry, but the more things change, the more the stay the same, evidenced by North picking up their 11th consecutive win against South by a score of 42-7 on Friday.
Things got off to a good start for South on Senior Night as senior Michael Crews returned the opening kickoff 50 yards for a touchdown, coming across the field and running parallel to South’s bench as he marched to the end zone.
“Good start and then we got cut down a little bit, got impatient, just didn’t stay with our plan,” Fogle said.
For as good as things were going for South, it looked equally as challenging for North as they fumbled on the first play of the game, though they were able to collect it back.
From there on out, however, it was all Tri-County North.
North converted two third downs on their opening drive before junior Luke Eby answered with a 3-yard TD, though the extra point was blocked, leaving South in the lead 7-6.
On South’s ensuing drive, the ball was fumbled away and recovered by North sophomore Jon Shirley. North began to play the field position game, punting on their drive but pinning the ball at South’s 2-yard line.
South then went three-and-out after gaining just a handful yards, setting North up with positive field position.
After moving backwards due to two penalties, North later converted on a long fourth-and-1, eventually getting back to South’s seven yard line where Eby scored his second rushing TD of the game. After a failed 2-point conversion, North took a 12-7 lead.
On South’s next drive, freshman Cole Bishop connected with junior Logan Collins for a long pass, though South was forced to punt after a sack on second down, a delay of game and another sack on third down.
North looked to extend their lead on the following drive, but South was able to get a stop on fourth-and-4. However, on the ensuing drive for South, Bishop was intercepted by North senior Braeden Rike in South territory.
North freshman Logan Flory then found the end zone on a 15-yard passing TD to junior Brett Woodyard, followed by hitting Rike for a successful 2-point conversion, making it 20-7 just before South would run out the clock and send the game to halftime.
Flory stepped into the starting role this week after an injury to North’s starting quarterback senior Dylan Stinson last week against Fort Loramie.
Receiving the ball, North got off to a fast start in the second half as a long run from Eby got them deep into South territory before an eventual rushing TD from Eby on first-and-goal, his third of the game.
Flory found senior Wyatt Royer for another 2-point conversion to make it 28-7 in favor of North.
On South’s first drive of the second half, Bishop was sacked on first down, and after bobbling a snap on third-and-8, was able to recover and rush for the first down. However, South would later punt after getting backed up to third-and-20.
Once again, Eby ripped off a long run to get North into South territory, where this time it was Woodyard with the rushing TD, his second score of the game. The extra point was blocked as North increased their lead to 34-7.
South continued driving, but was often stopped by either penalties or North senior Cooper Cole, who had a monstrous game with four sacks and two tackles for loss.
“Our pass rush was crazy,” Hall said. “Cooper Cole was all over the backfield. [Senior] Isaac [Johnson] had some pressures. We were really getting after it up front.”
North found the end zone one final time after freshman Jacob Davis recovered a South fumble, leading to a rushing TD from freshman Jordan Foose and another 2-point conversion.
After a final turnover by South, North ran out the clock to make the final 42-7.
“I’m very proud of our guys,” Hall said. “We lost our starting quarterback last week. That’s tough on any team, especially when you lose someone of Dylan’s caliber of a player, and I thought Logan Flory stepped in and did a pretty good job tonight.”
Just two games into his first season as coach, Hall has earned his first win, and the team celebrated by delivering him a game ball after the final whistle blew.
“It felt good,” he said. “You know, when you watch the film, it’s never as good as it feels and it’s never as bad as it feels, so we’ll go back and watch it. I’m sure there’s stuff that we got to do better, but you can’t complain about a big win.
On South’s side, it was a challenging loss after the promising start to the game given the history of the rivalry.
“You gotta learn to be patient and roll with the punches,” Fogle said. “When the going gets tough, you just have to step up, and, you know, we didn’t do it this week. Next week, we’ll come out and do it. We’ve got a young team. They’re gonna learn a little bit.”
This makes 11 straight wins by North who hasn’t dropped a game in this matchup since South last won in 2009.
“It’s a hard tradition to break, you know, when you’re fighting against that – getting to change the culture,” Fogle said. “Last week, we were in it to the end. This week, we kind of hung our heads and feel sorry for ourselves. It’s that rivalry week; there’s a lot of distractions this week with a lot of things. Next week, we’ll get back to business and we won’t have as many distractions and just go.”
Though it is a rivalry, other than some occasional jawing between players which the officials did have to warn each bench about, there is nothing but respect between these two programs.
“I want to give credit to Twin Valley South,” Hall said. “You know, I thought they played hard the whole game. I thought they really worked hard, but my guys really played hard.”
North will return home this week to take on Bethel while South will remain at home and look for their first win of the season against Covington on Friday, Sept. 11.
Reach Braden Moles at 937-683-4056 or on Twitter @BradenMoles