Trevor Arnett, Contributor
It was a historic night for the Waverly Tigers in Muletown. In fact, the last time Waverly found itself in the position, most of its players were in diapers.
Waverly last found itself perfect, having claimed a share of an SOC II title in 2006, a season that saw a perfect 10-0 finish.
While the 2020 edition of the Tigers won’t have a chance to play 10 games, they’ll certainly have a chance to wrap up an undefeated season and an outright SOC II title next week.
That’s after Friday’s 42-6 win over Minford, a victory that clinched at least a share of the crown.
But staking a claim to the SOC wasn’t the only history made. That 2006 Waverly team was led by all-state quarterback Trevor Walls, who would go on to play at New Mexico State University.
In his stellar prep career, Walls passed for 67 career touchdowns, a school record that stood until Friday. On Waverly’s first drive of the second half, quarterback Haydn’ Shanks found Zeke Brown across the middle for his 68th career passing touchdown to pass Walls.
Zeke Brown also had himself quite a night. The senior accrued three touchdowns, two through the air and one on the ground, to go along with eight tackles.
With the SOC championship, this senior group of Tigers adds another accolade to their careers, which includes four trips to the OHSAA Playoffs.
As the score may suggest, Waverly (5-0, 4-0 SOC II) found itself in the end zone early and often in the first half.
The Tigers’ first points came off a turnover forced by Penn Morrison, who intercepted Minford’s Elijah Vogelsong and returned the ball to the Minford 23-yard line. Shanks found Will Futhey on the next play for a 23-yard touchdown pass, making it 7-0.
PHOTOS: Images from Waverly’s 42-6 win over Minford
The Tigers never looked back.
Their next drive culminated in another touchdown, this time from one-yard out on a Peyton Harris carry, ending the first quarter in a 14-0 score. It took just 1:36 for Waverly to strike paydirt in the second quarter when Brown dove into the end zone from two yards away, stretching the lead to 21-0.
Waverly’s defense would then get involved again, forcing another turnover that led to points.
This time, sophomore Wyatt Crabtree corralled Vogelsong in the backfield for a strip-sack. The fumble was scooped by Futhey, who was off to the races for a 70-yard touchdown return that pushed the lead to 28-0.
But the Tigers weren’t done yet.
Shanks found Zeke Brown, who evaded three tacklers inside the five and stretched into the end zone to cap a 95-yard scoring drive and extend the rout to 35-0.
The second half began with a running clock, and Waverly receiving the kickoff.
That’s when the Tigers embarked on their last scoring drive of the night, a historic one for Shanks. With his 12-yard touchdown pass to Brown, Shanks took sole possession of the career passing touchdown record.
After the game, Shanks reflected on the moment.
“Walls is one of the best quarterbacks ever at Waverly,” he said. “It’s nice to finally pass him, and it feels great to have the record now.”
The history-making toss gave Waverly a 42-0 lead.
The fireworks slowed down after that first drive of the second half. Both teams traded punts and possessions until late in the third. With 34 seconds to go, Minford’s Matt Risner found the end zone from four yards out. The point after went wide left, securing the night’s final of 42-6.
“It’s a great feeling. Minford is one of those teams, they’ve always got great athletes,” Waverly coach Chris Crabtree said. “They’re always well-coached and play hard. I’m just proud of our kids for jumping out and attacking, and I thought the defense played really well in the first half.”
Senior Zeke Brown added to the team’s mentality coming into the game, saying, “When you’re at the top of the SOC, you have a target on your back, We knew we were going to get their best. We took it, and we handled it well.”
The stage is set for the Tigers to earn a perfect season and an outright SOC II title next week against Oak Hill, who will come in at 2-3.
“Oak Hill is pretty physical and likes to run straight at you. They’re one of those teams, if they stay on schedule and get a few yards here and there, they’ll move first down to first down,” Crabtree said. “We’ll have to get them in some bad situations and keep them off track. It’s going to be a good one. We’ll be at home and it’ll be a nice one.”
Statistically for the Tigers, in two and a half quarters, Shanks was 19-for-28 passing for 271 yards alongside three touchdowns and one interception. Phoenix Wolf had seven catches for 75 yards, Morrison had four grabs for 62 yards, and Futhey had four catches for 57 yards. On the ground, Peyton Harris had one touchdown on nine carries and 49 yards.
For Minford, Elijah Vogelsong was 13-of-27 passing for 155 yards and was intercepted three times. Vogelsong added eight carries for 25 yards while Risner had six catches for 83 yards. Freshman Jeffrey Pica led the way on the ground with 13 carries for 69 yards. The Falcons move to 2-3 and will travel to Lucasville to take on the Valley Indians in Week 6.