JOHNSTON: Solid finish to season for Cats

COSHOCTON — Waterford High enjoyed one last drive.

Never mind that it was very late in the final quarter, colder than a well-digger’s ditch, and the fourth-seeded Wildcats (9-3) were trailing, 33-6, they were determined to get to the house and did when senior quarterback Peyten Stephens hooked up with freshman Holden Dailey with an eight-yard scoring strike.

Stephens then passed to sophomore Jude Huffman for the two-point conversion.

“We just wanted to go out with something to go on,” Stephens said. “With a score like that, there had to be something for us to leave with and maybe smile about. But I’m just sad to see it end.”

Said Waterford head coach Eric McCutcheon, “We preach to finish strong, no matter what the score is, We just didn’t quit.”

After the ensuing kickoff, top-seeded Lucas (10-2) ran out the clock and won by 19. The Cubs are now scheduled to play Trimble High in the OHSAA Division VII football playoffs while the Cats could only reflect on the 2018 fall campaign.

“I’m proud of my kids and proud of my coaches,” said McCutcheon of Waterford’s third consecutive playoff appearance. “We had a great season. We won nine games, and we’re gaining every year. We’re getting more kids out.”

Waterford will lose 10 seniors to graduation — Braden Bellville, Lucas Pittman, Colin Jackson, George “Doc” Pantelidis, Rhys Thatcher, Zach Casada, Brock Hayes, Nate Hutchins, Ethan Hinton, and Stephens.

“I hate to see them go,” McCutcheon said. “And, I’m proud of all of them. They fought all year for me and gave me everything they had.”

Even against predominantly run-oriented Lucas.

The bulldozing-Cubs were a north-south kind of football team on offense with a very physical line and hard-running backs. Not sure that the sweep or pass is in their playbook.

“We knew it was coming,” said McCutcheon of Lucas’ smash-mouth play. “We just couldn’t stop it. They’re a powerful team.”

McCutcheon paused.

“We went against a tough team tonight,” he added. “We just had a hard time stopping 44 (Jeb Grover). and didn’t get much going on offense. We just didn’t play our best tonight.”

Grover incidentally rushed for 192 yards on 26 carries and three touchdowns.

Waterford did cut it to 14-6 on Zane Heiss’ short touchdown run at the end of the opening period and only trailed 21-6 at halftime.

But Lucas could not be stopped and after Waterford’s TD scored 19 unanswered points.

“I think if it’s close, they can beat Trimble,” Stephens said.

After the game, the Wildcat players mingled with their families and fans. Photos were taken.

The season’s over, but will be long-remembered.

And, even though it wasn’t a game-winning drive at the finish, it was a scoring drive — and that and a successful season can never be taken away from the Wildcats.

Ron Johnston is a Marietta Times sports writer and can be reached at rjohnston@mariettatimes.com

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