2017-10-26 / Sports

Loss to Aquinas frustrating; Tigers look ahead to Warren


A SCRUM OF TIGERS SUFFOCATES THE AQUINAS BALL CARRIER Too bad this didn’t happen more often in last Friday’s Tiger loss to the Fighting Irish. 
Photos by SPARKY NEWSOME A SCRUM OF TIGERS SUFFOCATES THE AQUINAS BALL CARRIER Too bad this didn’t happen more often in last Friday’s Tiger loss to the Fighting Irish. Photos by SPARKY NEWSOME There wasn’t much to be happy about while watching the Washington Wilkes Tigers get beat by the Fighting Irish of Aquinas last Friday night at Tiger Stadium. The offense sputtered throughout the game and the defense couldn’t handle the rushing of quarterback John Paul and running back Joseph Douglas, who racked up over 150 yards each.

There were multiple opportunities for the Tigers to turn the game around. They blocked an Aquinas field goal attempt early in the first quarter but failed to answer with a drive of any consequence. They recovered a fumble when Douglas was just about to score but went three-and-out and punted away. There were others as well but the turnaround never happened.

Still, the Tigers were in it until late in the game. At 17-8 early in the fourth quarter, there was still plenty of time for W-W to stage a comeback. But as the Tigers were on the verge of a touchdown with about four minutes left, a fumble at the one yard-line was claimed by Aquinas and the Irish quickly drove the length of the field to seal the game at 24-8.


GIAN DAVIS TAKES OUT THE SLIPPERY QUARTERBACK He earned Defensive Player of the Week honors for his efforts. GIAN DAVIS TAKES OUT THE SLIPPERY QUARTERBACK He earned Defensive Player of the Week honors for his efforts. The ninth game of the season, this coming Friday night in Warrenton, should be a different story for Washington-Wilkes. The Screaming Devils of Warren remain winless this season and should offer little competition for the Tigers.

A win over Aquinas last Friday would have clinched the sub-region championship for W-W, however, it did not do the same for Aquinas. If Lincoln County beats Aquinas this coming Friday, the sub-region would be thrown into a three-way tie for the No. 1 seed going into the game 10 playoff. The winner would be based on the state power rankings at the time.


COREY DANNER LOOKS FOR RUN AFTER A RECEPTION He had 35 yards on eight catches against Aquinas. COREY DANNER LOOKS FOR RUN AFTER A RECEPTION He had 35 yards on eight catches against Aquinas. So there’s still a chance, however unlikely, that the Tigers could play for the region championship. Also, it appears that there is no way the Tigers can finish anywhere lower than second place in the sub-region. In either case, opponents for the November 3 playoff game will be determined by the results of this Friday’s games in both sub-regions.

Moving into the state playoffs, the top 24 teams in Class A Public will receive berths. As of Monday this week, Washington-Wilkes was ranked at No. 15.

As those playoff hopes loom, the Aquinas lack of performance would seem to be cause for worry on the part of Tiger fans who have been encouraged by earlier progress but are now left wondering just what stuff this team is made of.

“I am about as frustrated after this game as any. I’m really embarrassed,” W-W Head Coach Chad Alligood said. “We just didn’t play good. We didn’t play hard. I thought we were ready to play and I just can’t put my finger on why we didn’t.”

There were no surprises on the field last Friday, Aquinas did exactly what was expected on both sides of the ball. “They didn’t do anything different,” the coach confirmed. “We just didn’t execute on either side and we didn’t play hard. It’s my job to figure out why and we’re going to have to get some things corrected if we want to continue playing.”

Turnovers continue to plague the Tigers. There were three against Aquinas: a fumbled punt return; and in the fourth quarter, a pass interception and the aforementioned fumble at the goal line.

“We still had a shot,” Alligood said, remembering when W-W was down by only nine points with most of the fourth quarter still to play. “That’s the thing that frustrated you the most – playing as bad as we did, we still had a shot right there in the fourth quarter. But we can not turn the ball over.”

It was an important game for the Tigers with the possibility of clinching the sub-region crown, and maybe that got into their heads. But though Alligood thought his team was ready, he is still baffled as to why their play was off.

“We have played in bigger ball games than that,” he said, using the Lincoln County game as an example. “You’re not going to play in a bigger ball game all year long than that game,” he continued. “So it’s not the pressure or the enormity of the chance to win the sub-region, or any of that, because you’ve already played in some big ball games. You’re used to that. It’s just frustrating that we’re almost there but we’ve got to find a way to just bust through the door but right now we can’t. So we’re going to regroup, try it again, and see what happens.”

Alligood conjectured that half the teams in the country lost their games last Friday and all of them are wondering about the same things Tiger fans are wondering about. “It’s something you just deal with in high school football,” he said. “But at some point, players have just got to make plays.”

That comes from a mindset which is part of the “culture” Alligood is working to instill in all of the “Tiger Nation,” and it ties into the “Tempo, Love, Compete” motto.

“It’s a mentality that develops over time – it doesn’t happen overnight,” he explained, “that when you walk out on the field, you have to believe that you’re going to win the ball game regardless of the score, regardless of what the clock says. You just know that you’re going to find a way. We’re so close, but it just takes time to develop that mentality.” And as he has said before, “The difference between great programs and good programs is that the great ones believe that when they walk out on the field they’re going to win. And you have to hate losing.”

Coming up this Friday, the Tigers will face Warren County in Warrenton. The Screaming Devils are 0-8 this year and are struggling. But they still cannot be taken for granted.

“Warren’s not bad,” Alligood said. “They are a lot like Hancock with those athletes who can run around. Their numbers are really down but they play hard.”

Contrary to the way W-W played against Aquinas, the coach says the Tigers “have got to go out there and try to put a complete game together as we’re heading into the playoffs.

“I just want us to play hard and execute on both sides of the ball. We’re not going to try anything tricky. We just want to see the kids play hard on every single snap in all phases of the game. That’s the key.

“All of our goals are still in front of us but we have to be playing good going into the playoffs in order to give ourselves a shot.”

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