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Trimble shuts out Waterford, 14-0

GLOUSTER — Some of the names and faces have changed, but the results haven’t so far for the Trimble Tomcats.

Trimble continued to grind out victories in this 2020 season, outlasting the Waterford Wildcats 14-0 on Friday inside Glouster Memorial Stadium.

The Tomcats are once again the champions of the Tri-Valley Conference Hocking Division, having clinched at least a share of the top spot after remaining unbeaten on the season.

Trimble is 5-0, and 4-0 in the TVC-Hocking with only a road trip to South Gallia standing in the way of a perfect league run.

Trimble coach Phil Faires said the team had 15 new starters out of 22 positions in a 34-28 week one win at Nelsonville-York. Now also having wins under their belts against Eastern and Waterford, the Tomcats are only getting better.

“For them to have confidence in what we were doing and get through the jitters, you still look in their eyes and you can tell they’re young,” Faires said. “We’re just trying to get better each game.”

The Tomcats were certainly pushed by Waterford (2-3, 2-2 TVC-Hocking), a veteran team that also has close losses to Fort Frye and Eastern.

Trimble had three first-half turnovers, and was deadlocked in a 0-0 tie at halftime.

“We knew this was going to be a good game,” Trimble junior tailback/linebacker Bryce Downs said. “I’m just glad we came out with a win and our defense held up.”

The defense more than held up, as the Tomcats recorded their third shutout in a row.

Waterford was held to just 27 yards rushing on 25 attempts, with just 68 total yards of offense.

The Wildcats also had to play the second half with backup quarterback Jacob Pantelidis, after Grant McCutheon suffered an injury.

“We were going to take away their best plays, make them try to beat us with something they’re not used to running or doing and it worked for us tonight,” Faires said.

“We had a good game plan defensively, we spent a lot of time defensively and it showed.”

The Tomcats were able to shake off four turnovers to make enough plays offensively to get the win.

It started with the opening drive of the third quarter, as Trimble marched 65 yards for the score, leading 6-0 after Tabor Lackey’s 1-yard QB sneak.

The drive was anything but routine, however. The Tomcats first dug out of a third-and-20 hole when Blake Guffey got open along the sideline for a 30-yard reception to move the sticks.

Trimble would eventually face a third-and-goal from the 13 after a delay of game penalty.

Lackey came through again, finding Austin Wisor just short of the goal line for a 12-yard completion.

Those two key pass plays allowed Lackey to score off the left side of his line from the 1-yard line for the 6-0 lead.

“We have four good receivers on the field and we have another couple on the sidelines,” Faires said. “If he’ll (Lackey) take his time, if we can give him time, he’s got some guys he can throw to.”

Waterford followed with its longest play offensively, but it still proved to be a momentum swing for Trimble.

Pantelidis found Jude Huffman open over the middle of the field on third-and-seven, and he raced into Trimble territory.

Huffman had the ball poked away though, and Guffey recovered. The play went for a 41-yard gain, but ended in a key turnover for the Trimble defense.

“They made mistakes at key times, like we did in the first half,” Faires said.

Take away the 41-yard pass play, and the Wildcats had a net total of negative-five yards in the second half. The Tomcats’ defense teed off on Pantelidis and the Wildcats after getting the lead.

“I think that kind of picked up the momentum a lot, getting that first touchdown and everyone getting hyped up after that,” Downs said.

Trimble’s second touchdown was set up after a special teams error by Waterford.

Wildcats’ punter Lane Cline had a ball snap over his head in the fourth quarter. He raced back to pick up the football, but was unable to get a kick off.

Cline was eventually tackled at the 15-yard line, setting up Trimble with excellent field position.

The Tomcats cashed in three players later, when Lackey lofted a jump ball for Guffey in the end zone.

The junior standout came down with the football, and a 12-yard touchdown.

“Guffey’s just a man out there,” Faires said, as Guffey caught two big passes for 42 yards on the night.

Downs caught Lackey’s 2-point conversion pass, and Trimble was securely ahead 14-0 with 7:23 remaining.

“Getting up two scores, I was pretty confident,” Faires said. “We had been playing good.”

Lackey shook off three interceptions to complete 7 of 18 passes for 88 yards and a touchdown, adding 35 yards and another score on the ground. Downs rushed 18 times for 77 yards.

The Tomcats extended their regular season winning streak to 20 games in a row.

Trimble has also won 25 TVC-Hocking games in a row, winning the league for the third year in a row.

Downs said the current Tomcats learned from the group that came before them, and it’s helped lead to more success.

“I’m glad that I could learn from Conner Wright last year, because I think that helped a lot this year,” Downs said. “It helped me, Todd (Fouts) and Tabor, because Tabor learned from Cam (Kittle). It’s just learning from last year and picking up everything for this year.”

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