Tartans stun Wildcats, 16-8, in playoff opener

Photo courtesy of Patti Miller Waterford’s Peyten Stephens (12) carries the ball during a high school football Division VII, Region 27 quarterfinal against Sciotoville East Friday night. Sciotoville East won, 16-8

WATERFORD — Waterford High was plagued by turnovers.

The Wildcats bowed out of the Ohio Division VII football playoffs with a 16-8 setback Friday night to the visiting Sciotoville East Tartans.

“We’re disappointed,” said second-year WHS varsity coach Eric McCutcheon. “We just had too many turnovers and too many mistakes tonight.”

Waterford finished with a solid 9-2 overall record, which included a Tri-Valley Conference title.

“Don’t get me wrong, we had great effort,” McCutcheon said. “We just put the ball on the ground too much tonight. It’s hard to win when you do that.”

Photo courtesy of Janis Keller/Morgan County Herald Sciotoville East’s Ethan Carver (1) is brought down by Waterford’s Peyten Stephens (12) during a high school football Division VII, Region 27 quarterfinal Friday night.

East (9-2), which won its first-ever playoff game, capitalized on a pick in the second quarter and fumble recovery in the fourth quarter to score two touchdowns. Ethan Carver had both TDs for the Tartans, one on a two-yard and the other on a six-yard run. The 5-foot-10, 216-pound senior running back, who also ran for a two-point conversion, finished with 94 yards on 19 carries.

SE receiver JD Hatcher caught a two-point conversion throw from quarterback Brady Douthat.

Defensively for the Tartans, Ethan Gifford and Mackle Kingery each had an interception. Kingery also recovered a fumble.

“They (Tartans) are big and massive,” McCutcheon said. “They’re a real nice team. They’re well-coached. We knew we were going to have our hands full.”

The Wildcats were led by Braden Bellville, who gained 94 yards on 19 attempts. The 6-foot, 190 pound junior also scored on an eight-yard run to paydirt in the opening period to stake the green and white to a 6-0 advantage.

“Braden’s fine; I think he was just getting wore out, I think,” McCutcheon said.

Andrew Harra-Baker caught a two-point conversion throw from QB Peyten Stephens.

Sciotoville East received the opening kickoff, and went three-and-out.

Waterford took over on its own 36, and, thanks to a 46-yard run by Bellville, moved the ball to the Tartan 8. From there, Bellville collected a handoff from Stephens and busted one into the end zone. After Stephens hit Harra-Baker, the the Wildcats led 8-0.

“We started off really strong,” McCutcheon said.

After gaining 54 yards on Waterford’s opening offensive series, Bellville only had 40 more yards on the ground for the rest of the contest.

In the second quarter, East got a break when Gifford picked off WHS quarterback Zane Heiss’s throw at the Wildcat 21. From there, the Tartans moved the ball to the two where Carver scored. Hatcher’s two-point conversion reception knotted it at 8-8, also the halftime score.

“They made some adjustments, and we just made too many mistakes,” McCutcheon said.

After a scoreless third quarter, the Tartans recovered a fumble late in the fourth quarter deep in Waterford territory. Sticking to the ground, and moving the ball north-south, they reached the Wildcat six, where Carver followed his blockers into the end zone for the go-ahead TD. He also rushed for the two-point conversion, making it 16-8 with 4:46 to go.

Waterford tried to come back, but was stymied by Sciotoville’s defensive unit twice.

“It was just one of those nights where things didn’t go our way,” McCutcheon said. “But I’m proud of my guys and the fans.

“It was a great year that was over a little bit too soon.”