Sports

Trimble Cruises to Victory in Season Opener

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GLOUSTER, Ohio-The Trimble Tomcats’ Saturday night season opener against the Nelsonville-York Buckeyes held within it more excitement than opening nights of years prior. The Buckeyes made it clear their match up against the Tomcats was circled on their calendar, and Trimble, the long-presiding powerhouse of the TVC-Hocking, were more than willing to add fuel to the fire raging between the two teams. The reigning conference champions antagonized their opponents by hanging a jersey of Nelsonville-York’s Keegan Wilburn in their gym on Wednesday, setting the stage for an intense affair in the 50th matchup between the two teams.

When the two teams met on the gridiron though, the Tomcats proved that they were still the bullies on the block in the Hocking, coming away with a 35-0 shutout victory over the Buckeyes.

It seemed as if both towns were emptied into Trimble’s football field, as the bleachers were packed, Tomcat red on one side, Buckeye orange on the other. The stadium buzzed with eager anticipation, which may have bled into the play on the field, as both sides’ opening drives were whistled for false starts before each of their first offensive plays.

Cam Kittle gets his offense set
Trimble takes the field and plants their skull-pole
Keegan Wilburn surveys the field
The Tomcat mascot takes to the stands
A sign is displayed in the Trimble student section
The Tomcats psyche themselves up pre-game

Points were not en vogue in the first quarter, as the two teams’ first drives resulted in three-and-outs, and a first down was not had until the 7:00 mark. Five flags were thrown in the games first four minutes. Penalties would become a trend in the contest, and quarter one would end with the score standing 6-0 in favor of Trimble thanks to a designed quarterback run from four yards out by Cameron Kittle.

The Tomcats turned up the heat with less than a minute to go in quarter one, as a 50-yard run from Connor Wright served as a harbinger of things to come. The first play of quarter two saw fullback Sawyer Koons take a pass into the flat all the way to the one yard line. Kittle would sneak the ball into the end zone from there, and one two-point conversion later the score stood at 14-0.

The rout was on from there, as the Buckeyes were unable to force Trimble to deviate from their game plan. The Tomcats executed their run-heavy scheme to a T, consistently favoring the strong side of the field and getting around a stacked box with regularity. Nelsonville-York had spurts of stout resistance on defense, but to win against Trimble requires near-perfect execution of your own game plan. The Tomcats led 21-0 at the half.

On the other side of the coin, NY pulled out screens, pitches, end-arounds, roll outs, all types of plays to try to find a weak spot in Trimble’s defense, but to no avail. Trimble’s speed on defense stymied the Buckeyes, relentlessly setting the edge and severely limiting Nelsonville-York’s YAC opportunities after receptions. Seniors Shawn Turley and Sawyer Koons picked up where they left off last year, fearlessly making tackles and shutting down running lanes.

Limiting the Buckeyes’ Keegan Wilburn was the main point of emphasis for the Tomcat defense, as Trimble played keep-away from him on kickoffs and committed an abundance of defensive attention to the senior on every down. Cameron Kittle spoke about the game plan after the game.

“Stop number three,” Kittle said. “That’s the game plan against Nelsonville for everyone all year. We know that he has the speed but we think hitting him hard is what stops him. That’s what we went for really.”

Despite the lopsided score, Trimble head coach Phil Faires made it clear his team could still improve.

“Too many holding penalties,” Faires said. “I saw four or five of them myself. Too many penalties. If we can’t get to the ball you just gotta get on them. We’re wanting to tackle with our arms, you can’t do that. It took away some big plays for us, so yes we need to work on the penalties.”

He did give his squad credit, though, for getting a shutout in the season opener after recording seven regular season shutouts last year.

“You get a shutout against a good team like Nelsonville-York, yes I think your game plan is pretty good,” Faires said. “They had Keegan, their quarterback, and Phillips all three on the field, at any time they can beat you. So to shut a team out like that, to get a running clock on that defense, we’re pretty proud of that.”

With the season opener in the books, Trimble will look to replicate their success next week when they travel to Belpre to face the Golden Eagles. For Nelsonville-York, they’ll get a crack at the Fort Frye Cadets in week two.