Blair Oaks, the defending Class 2 state champion and current top-ranked Class 3 team in the state, was in town and lived up to the resume in a 56-8 win over the Tigers.
Nothing came easy for Versailles Friday night.
Blair Oaks, the defending Class 2 state champion and current top-ranked Class 3 team in the state, was in town and lived up to the resume in a 56-8 win over the Tigers. Class 2 Versailles had to earn just about anything it could get in the Tri-County Conference battle as the Falcons displayed some of the things that have allowed them to extend their current winning streak to 19 games.
“They are going to be good right now and that is the way it is. Coach (Ted) LePage is the best coach in the state and I don’t care if it is Class 2 or Class 3, probably,” Versailles coach Broc Silvers said of the opposing side. “He’s won multiple state championships and it is fun. I talk to our kids about getting the opportunity to play somebody and that was our state championship. We got to see what it would be like.
“Those guys played in a state title game and we are not ready for that, but it was exciting to go up against a measuring stick. I was excited about getting the opportunity to play the number one ranked team in the state… We kind of took a step from here last year, regathered and hopefully we do that next week at California.”
The defending state champions set the tone early, forcing Versailles to not only go three-and-out on the opening drive of the game, but backwards as a ferocious defensive front picked up two straight sacks to force the Tigers to 4th-and-20. The defensive pressure of Blair Oaks would become a theme for much of the night as senior Tiger quarterback Coby Williams faced a relentless pass rush that turned in a handful of sacks, not allowing him much time to make reads.
“We’ve been hitting it on empty (five receivers) a lot and we just were not good enough to go man-for-man with them. We were worried about that a little bit and thought maybe we’d get it out of his (Williams) hands early enough,” Silvers said of fending off the Falcon pressure. “We were just trying to throw the ball within two seconds and Coby had to anticipate a little bit.
“We had to give help, you have less receivers run routes and they got more guys in coverage so it is going to be tougher at that point… We are going to try to get better from this but not try to make a whole lot of changes because of what we just saw. We won’t see another team like this again this year.”
As Versailles punted away the ball after the first drive, the Blair Oaks offense took the field and scored on its first play from scrimmage. Freshman quarterback Dylan Hair hit junior receiver Jacobi Marble across the middle on a 54-yard strike that quickly put the Falcons up 7-0.
Blair Oaks found the end zone on all but two of its 10 possessions on the night- the exceptions being a turnover and final possession where the Falcons lined up in victory formation.
Hair capped the next drive with a 6-yard option run for a score and that was followed by a 23-yard touchdown pass to junior receiver Carson Prenger to extend the lead to 21-0. Backed up on their own 5-yard line in the next series, the Falcons slipped up once as Versailles junior Kyjuan Buckingham pounced on a loose ball to score the team’s lone touchdown of the night. Williams managed to hit senior receiver Brayden Morrison for the ensuing 2-point conversion.
However, Blair Oaks quickly got back on track.
Senior tailback Riley Lentz rushed for a 4-yard touchdown to extend the lead to 28-8 by halftime. The Falcons came out of the locker rooms and marched to the end zone again on Lentz’s second touchdown of the night as he dragged Tigers across the goal line on an 18-yard run. Not long after, it was Hair again as he ran in a 10-yard option play and that was followed up with junior quarterback Cade Stockman’s 9-yard run. The final touchdown of the night came from Lentz as he rushed for a third score on a 4-yard run.
Blair Oaks finished the night with 301 rushing yards and 214 passing yards for a total of 515.
As tough as things looked out on the gridiron, facing what appeared to be a smooth-running offensive machine, Silvers said he was actually pleased with the defensive effort considering the struggles on the offensive side of the ball. He noted that although Blair Oaks managed to consistently score, there were a number of series where his defensive unit did not give up a large number of big plays.
“There are some guys that really stood out and played really well and guys battling through injuries. I thought defensively we played our tails off because last week we had 90 offensive plays,” Silvers remarked. “If our offense controls the clock a little more, the defense is not on the field and the scoreboard is not the way it is. Last week it was the defense that hurt us and this week it was the offense not being able to help the defense out enough.”
Speaking of the offense, Versailles managed to cross midfield into Falcon territory just four times and reached as far as the Blair Oaks 24-yard line before a 4th-and-4 pass from Williams to junior receiver Michael Bell was stopped one yard shy of a first down.
The running game did not have much better luck, either. Versailles finished the game with just 83 offensive yards as the Tigers rushed for 22 yards on 27 carries while Williams completed 11 of his 22 pass attempts for 61 yards. Senior tailback Jordan King led the ground game with 17 rushing yards and Bell was the leading receiver with five catches for 26 yards while Morrison caught two passes for 21 yards and fellow senior receiver Dallas Waller added 13 yards on three catches.
Versailles falls to 0-4 and 0-2 in the Tri-County Conference after facing a state-ranked opponent for the second straight week. It was not the start Silvers or the Tigers wanted, but the coach noted that it is important to treat each week like the record is still 0-0. Keeping things in perspective, the schedule has not been an easy one, either, as the combined record from the team’s first four opponents is 15-1.
“Hopefully we can get a win in the next couple of weeks, get our head in the right direction and still fulfill the ultimate goal of winning in the playoffs,” Silvers said of the road ahead. “I still feel confident that whoever we play week 10 we are going to be just fine.”
Up next is a trip to California (0-4) for another conference battle Friday night at 7 p.m.
“They are in the same boat. It is going to be who can work harder this week and make some changes and corrections, play harder next week and be more sound,” Silvers said of the upcoming battle.