Versailles outlasts El Dorado Springs in district opener

It came down to the final half when Versailles visited El Dorado Springs in the first round of a Class 2 district playoff game Friday night.

The Tigers decided they wanted to play another week of football and made sure the second half belonged to them in a 34-29 win over the Bulldogs. It is the first playoff win for the program since the modern format began in 2012.

Versailles trailed by as many as 16 points early in the first half, but the Tigers had no intention of closing the curtains and going away. Versailles fought back to tie the game up at 22 by halftime. That seeded plenty of momentum for the Tigers to come out strong in the final two quarters.

“Our kids played a great game,” Versailles coach Broc Silvers noted. “We showed great resolve to get a few stops and started finishing drives. Coby Williams and Taylor Dobbins had great nights on offense and it seemed like Michael Trotter made every tackle in the second half.”

Indeed, the offense certainly started to find its legs as the Tigers rushed for a total of 207 yards on the night. Senior tailback Taylor Dobbins led the Versailles ground game with 134 yards and a touchdown on the night while sophomore quarterback Coby Williams added 65 more yards and barreled his way into the end zone on three separate occasions.

Through the air, Williams completed six of his 11 passes for 106 yards and two touchdown passes. Dobbins was on the receiving end of one of those touchdowns as he also led the receiving corps with three receptions for 52 yards. Junior wideout Wyatt Espinosa put up two catches for 39 yards and senior wide receiver Kooper Wilson made his only catch of the night count on a 15-yard touchdown reception.

El Dorado Springs was all about the rushing attack Friday night as the Bulldogs rushed for 360 yards while only putting up 38 total yards through the air. However, the Tigers were able to keep the opponent at bay and junior linebacker Michael Trotter played a big role in that with a team-leading 17.5 tackles. Sophomore linebacker Gage Tessier also did his part adding seven tackles of his own.

Now, No. 6 Versailles (3-7) will visit No. 2 Fair Grove (8-2) in the district semifinals Friday night looking to earn a spot in the district championship game. For Silvers and his program, the playoffs have been like a brand new season.

“As we have talked about all season, the only week that truly matters is week 10 and beyond,” the coach said. “In this format where everyone has a shot to win, the first nine weeks really just seed you out, but we would have liked to host that game in front of our home fans.”

The fans would certainly enjoy a trip to the district championship game, but the next opponent standing in the way will not be an easy one to get through as Fair Grove comes into the contest on a four-game winning streak including a 44-0 shutout over Stockton last week.

Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.

Osage season ends with tough loss at Springfield Catholic

School of the Osage opened up Class 3 district play in Springfield Friday night against the Fighting Irish of Springfield Catholic.

The No. 6 Indians had taken care of business in its previous two playoff meetings with the No. 3 Fighting Irish in 2014 and 2015, but that would not be the case this time around as the home team prevailed with a 33-21 win.

The final score may say otherwise, but this contest was much closer than it appeared as Osage had its opportunities. The Indians entered the red zone and were knocking on the door three times in the first half, but only came away with seven points. One drive stalled on a fumble and the other ended on a turnover on downs. Still, Osage only trailed 13-7 when the two sides went into the locker rooms for halftime.

The Indians received the opening possession of the second half and did not let the opportunity go to waste, regaining a 14-13 lead in the third quarter. However, Springfield Catholic quarterback Tyson Riley quickly put up two touchdown runs of 69 yards and 30 yards respectively to put his team up for good as he finished the night with 176 yards and four touchdowns. Springfield Catholic totaled 336 yards on the ground in the win.

“We did not give up a first down in the first quarter,” Osage coach Devin Johnson pointed out. “Then they started running off tackle and we struggled to contain their quarterback. He is a good player and one we were not able to consistently contain after the first quarter.”

Osage senior quarterback Zach Wheeler completed 15 of his 35 pass attempts for 255 yards, a touchdown and an interception in his final game under center for the Indians. Meanwhile, senior wideout Drake Gaines also got involved in the passing game as he connected on a double pass play for a touchdown of 63 yards on his only attempt of the night.

Senior running back Nick Riley was on the receiving end of one of those touchdowns as he led the receiving corps with 156 yards on six catches while fellow senior running back Austin Magnuson hauled in the other touchdown pass on one of his two receptions, totaling 79 yards of his own. Gaines was the other receiver involved in the passing game and he put up three catches for 21 yards respectively.

Riley led all ball carriers with 51 yards and a touchdown and senior running back Ben Baker added 42 yards of his own. Osage rushed for 134 total yards on the ground.

On the defensive end, Magnuson led Osage with 16 tackles from the linebacker position in his final game while junior defensive end Garrett Sutherland recorded 14 tackles, including a sack, and senior defensive tackle Gage Swofford added 12 tackles of his own.

It may not have been the most ideal finish for Osage as the Indians ended their season at 5-5, but Johnson said the seniors and their contributions can certainly not go unnoticed.

“Our senior class is a talented one that we will miss. Four of those players have been starting since sophomore year,” the coach remarked. “More importantly, it is a group of individuals who work hard and will be successful in life. I am honored to be a part of their development, and as a staff, we have enjoyed watching them grow and mature.

“It is always sad to see players graduate, but as a staff we know they are entering a bigger chapter in their lives and we are excited to see what the future holds for them,” the coach added.