On Friday, the Tigers traveled south to Batavia to take on the West Clermont Wolves in the last game of the regular season. This content contained major postseason implications for both teams. The Tigers, sitting at 5-4, were looking to host a playoff game in Division II, Region 8. The Wolves, sitting at 3-6, were trying to clinch one of the final remaining playoff spots in Division I, Region 4.
The game started with a West Clermont statement drive. The Wolves went 80 yards in 11 plays, taking nearly 6 minutes off the clock, and capped off by a 20-yard rushing touchdown from Bo Rickman. After a punt from the Tigers, the Wolves looked poised to strike again, this time going 79 yards in 10 plays before a Brad Childs (12) tackle for loss on 3rd down forced the Wolves to settle for three. The Tigers continued to struggle early on offense, as Tyler Roberts (11) threw an interception into the hands of Zander Huack, setting up the Wolves in Loveland territory. But the Tiger defense stepped up big time, as Dylan Hacker (11) picked off Rickman and set the Tigers up inside the West Clermont red zone before a penalty brought the ball back to the Wolves 45. The Tigers drove down inside the West Clermont 10-yard line before an incompletion on 3rd down forced them to settle for three with a Ben Hicks (12) field goal. The Tigers would get the ball back with a chance to score before the half, but time ran out, and the Tigers went into the intermission down 10-3.
The Tigers came out of the half with a spark, taking their opening drive 80 yards in 13 plays, converting on a big 4th down, and ending the drive with a 19-yard passing touchdown from Roberts to Brayden McCaleb (12), tying the game up at 10. The Wolves tried to respond, as Rickman led a long drive going 60 yards and taking almost 5 minutes off the clock. After a 3rd down stop by McCaleb, it appeared as if the Wolves were going to take the lead back with a 29-yard field goal, but the Tigers’ special teams stood their ground, and Kolby King (12) blocked the kick, giving the Tigers the ball back with a chance to take their first lead of the night. Unfortunately, the Tigers had to punt the ball away, and West Clermont took over from their own 22 with less than 10 minutes left. The Wolves drove down the field, continuing to run the football and take time off of the clock. They got as close to scoring as the Loveland 4 before a penalty pushed them back and eventually forced them to kick a field goal, making the score 13-10. The Tigers drove down the field, looking for one last shot, but a sack on 4th down sealed the deal, and the Wolves pulled off the upset on senior night.
Despite the loss, the Tigers will still be hosting a playoff game for the first time since the state championship campaign of 2013, and it isn’t just any playoff game. On October 27th, the Tigers will host the Kings Knights in a rivalry game with plenty more than bragging rights on the line. Make sure to be there and be loud!