Van-Far/Community R-VI head football coach Blake Logan was hoping his young players could find a way to pick up the program’s second straight district victory last week when the Indians had their rematch with a North Callaway team that beat them one week earlier in the regular season finale.
Unfortunately, with just 17 players dressed in uniform, very few upperclassmen, and players being forced to move into different positions due to injuries, the Indians were unable to stop the Thunderbirds, ending their season with a 54-0 loss.
“We were not making good decisions with the ball and were having trouble wrapping up on defense,” Logan said. “North Callaway had speed that we were unable to match with the personnel we had on the field. They were simply the better team.”
The loss meant it was the final game for seniors Wyatt McDowell, Jamie Householder, Nick Barnes, Klayton Haddock, Michael Colson, and Anthony Fairchild.
While the senior players left their mark on the program, Logan is also looking forward to what the future holds for the Indians.
“We will undoubtedly miss the seniors we are losing to graduation,” Logan added. “However, I believe this freshman class is the most talented group of freshmen I have had and the sophomores are talented as well. Furthermore, one of the best athletes I have coached (Boomer-Sharrod Connor) will be back as a senior and should be hungry for success. I hope to have the same type of off-season we had this past summer and come back to compete for the conference/district title like we were eyeing this season coming in. If you have said a few years ago that Van-Far football would have a disappointing four win season, people may have laughed. We are heading in the right direction and hope to come in with 30+ boys to begin the season.”
It appeared early in the district game that things might go well for the Indians when they recovered a fumble on the opening kickoff.
Van-Far/Community R-VI marched the ball to North Callaway’s 25-yard line before their drive stalled with the fumbled snap for the first of seven turnovers in the loss.
The Indians’ defense responded after a 57-yard touchdown run was negated for a block in the back and Devin Fleming forced North Callaway to turn the ball over on downs after a sack.
Indians’ quarterback Caden Wilburn threw his first of four interceptions five plays later to give North Callaway the ball near midfield.
The Thunderbirds then scored on a 52-yard touchdown run on their first play. The failed two-point conversion kept the score at 6-0.
On the second play of their next drive, Wilburn had a second pass picked off followed two plays later with a 37-yard touchdown run. The two-point conversion pushed the lead to 14-0.
The Indians gained some momentum right before the end of the first quarter when Wilburn connected with Householder for a 11-yard pass to push the ball near midfield. Wilburn threw a third interception at the beginning of the second quarter.
Six plays later, North Callaway scored from three yards out on a quarterback keeper and with a two-point conversion, led 22-0.
Perhaps one of the highlights of the game for the Indians came on special teams with 8:29 left in the half as Wilburn punted a ball 52 yards to pin the Thunderbirds inside the 30-yard line.
In just three plays though North Callaway scored on a 71-yard touchdown pass. The extra-point kick was blocked by Jacob Garner.
Wilburn then had a fourth pass picked off, but this time it was returned 38 yards for a touchdown and a 34-0 lead.
North Callaway added a 50-yard touchdown pass before halftime for a 41-0 halftime edge.
The Indians had just 27 total yards of offense in the first two quarters while the Thunderbirds had 208 yards passing and 144 yards rushing for 352 total yards.
With the mercy clock in effect for the second half, the Thunderbirds took advantage of some of the limited opportunities they had with a moving clock.
Quarterback Parker Wallace had a pass intercepted and returned 21 yards for a touchdown near the end of the third quarter to push the score to 48-0.
The final score came moments after a bad snap forced Wilburn to be tackled for a 22-yard loss. Wallace had a second late pass intercepted.
After a turnover on downs, the Thunderbirds picked up a late 28-yard touchdown run to hold on for a 54-0 win.
McDowell had the best offensive day with four catches for 50 yards. Garner added 12 carries for 24 yards as the offense had just 67 total yards of offense in the loss.
McDowell led the defense with eight tackles. Adam Hombs had five tackles and one tackle for a loss while Kyle Ebers added two tackles, one tackle for a loss, and one sack. Fleming had three tackles and one tackle for a loss.