J. C. Tilton
There were at least two football teams still playing in November in Preble County. The TVS Wee Panthers and the National Trail Blazers played in one whale of a championship game on Sunday, November 2. This was for the championship of the CCCYL youth football. This league counts plays instead of keeping a clock, this makes it easier on the players because that is one less thing to confuse them. There are 22 plays to a quarter and 88 in the game. These two teams battled back and forth for all 88 plays, hence the name for the article. And the game was in doubt until the whistle blew on that 88th play. The first meeting between these teams was in the last game of the regular season. TVS won on a end of the game play by a score of 12-6. That was the only loss of the season for Trail and they were looking for revenge.
The Panthers found the endzone first. Miles McCollum threw a strike to Clint Spitler who went 40 yards for a TD. But Trail showed resolve and answered with a 65 yard TD pass of their own. The Trail extra point was not successful and the score was TVS 6 and Trail 6. Now Trail gained the momentum and made a defensive stop. They were able to move the ball well but on 4th down Brandon Fox made a key quarterback sack to stop this drive. TVS tried to regain the momentum, but could not make a dent in the stingy Trail defense. Trail was able to score for the second in the second quarter with a Danny Dillon 58 yard TD pass reception. This time the extra point was good and the Blazers went to the locker room up 14- 6.
The 3rd quarter was a battle of the defenses as neither team could dent the other defense enough to get to the endzone. As the teams entered the last quarter, the intensity level went up. Both stands were getting louder as each down was critical. TVS was hoping for another 4th quarter victory as they had done 2 times this season and the Blazers were determined not to let this game slip from their grasp. Midway thru the quarter it looked like the Panthers might get that elusive 2nd touchdown. Clint Spitler ran for a first down to the Trail 23. Then Brandon Fox knifed thru to the about the 12. Finally South had the ball first and goal on about the 2 1/2 yard line. Less than 3 yards separated them from another TD and a chance at overtime. A quarterback sneak put the ball inside the 1. But then the Trail defense stepped up and made a big play to move the ball back to the 6. And they made their most important stand of the season when they denied TVS 2 more times and took over on downs. Trail was able to get one hard earned first down in their series, but had to give up the ball to South. They had one last chance to get that elusive score. Now the team had good field position, but were short on time. They got a first down on the Trail 34, but the last pass of the day fell short and Trail hung on in an exciting showdown between 2 remarkable teams. Both teams have good athletes who will have good futures in football, this probably won't be that last time that these athletes play in November. Steve Dillon, the Blazer head coach, complimented the Panthers on their efforts, remarking that “...it took everything we had to stop [TVS]. Your team played one whale of a football game.”
The Blazers left another league to join the CCCYL and this is their first year in the league. This is only the second year that peewee football has been played at South and both teams had great seasons. The Varsity went from worst in the league last year with 0-5 record to first in the league with a 5-0 record during the regular season. A remarkable turnaround. They were 2-1 in the playoffs to finish with a 7-1 overall record in league play. The team had a lot of support from their fans, the Panther following was bigger than their opponents in both of their last two playoff games. The Varsity team was coached by head coach Gregg Fox, Ralph Lundsford, Junior Burns, Rick McCollum, and John Bantz. Panther AJ Bantz was hurt in the game and both teams wish him a speedy recovery.