On what was the last game at Harmon Field for the Wauseon seniors, it was fitting that senior Xavier Torres had a big night. Torres was credited with three scores – all coming in the first half – as the Indians got the best of Delta 26-10 Friday in the season finale for both teams.
“The gameplan was to try to feed him a little bit,” said Wauseon coach Travis Cooper, speaking on Torres’ big night. “We knew that we were gonna be having to move Connar (Penrod) back to quarterback. And so we were kind of young and inexperienced on the other side. So I really wanted to feed him tonight on his senior night. And let our senior linemen block for him. He did a phenomenal job.”
The senior tailback has left a mark on the program, leading by example for the younger players on the roster. “He’s one of those kids that you would never know that we weren’t playing for a league title or playoffs this last week,” said Cooper. “He practices hard. He plays hard. What you see is what you get.”
Delta went three-and-out on its first three possessions, and after the third drive, they had a special teams mishap. The Indians got a hand on the punt, where Torres scooped it up and ran it in. Matt Gonzales missed the extra point to keep the score at 6-0 with 3:15 left in the opening quarter.
“Anytime you can score in that third phase, whether it’s a return, or a block or something like that. It’s huge,” said Cooper of the play. “You get points on the board (and) your offense isn’t on the field. You’re able to flip your defense right back out there and hopefully pin them down. It was a great momentum gainer.”
Torres led the way on the Indians’ first drive of the second quarter. He picked up three first downs on the possession, eventually converting a catch and run from 28 yards out and a Gonzales point after increased their lead to 13-0.
He continued to show off his receiving skills later in the quarter. On first-and-10 at the Panther 30-yard line, Torres got loose along the sideline and Penrod laid it in there perfectly, putting the Indians up 20-0 with 6:39 left in the first half.
“He just went crazy,” said Delta coach Jeff Wolford of Torres. “We worked on it all week to stop it. We made a few mistakes (tonight). To be honest with you, we always start slow because of our youth. Then it’s like, holy cow we can play with these guys. Then we believe, then we get after it.”
Wauseon essentially put the game out of reach with their first possession of the second half. On a second down play, Penrod busted loose on a quarterback keeper to score from 27 yards out. They tried for the two-point conversion but it was unsuccessful, making it 26-0 early in the third quarter.
However, the Panthers did outscore the Indians 10-0 from that point on.
First, a Tyler McCullough 25-yard field goal cut it to 26-3 at the 3:52 mark of the third.
The Panthers would then take advantage of a Wauseon fumble in their own territory in the fourth quarter.
Tristen Saeger had runs of 13 and six yards, while J.D. Osborn also had a six-yarder to put them at the Indian six yard line. Osborn punched it in on second-and-goal to reach the final score with 10:15 remaining.
“We were getting a little bit, I think lax in some of our techniques there in the second half,” explained Cooper. “And I thought offensively, just back-breaking penalties. That’s been kind of the story of the year. Where some of our drives, we’re getting something going, and they stall because we get a big penalty. But our kids found a way to get it done at the end.”
Torres had 85 yards on 13 carries and 75 yards receiving on three catches for the Indians. Penrod added 61 yards rushing on seven carries and had a pair of passing touchdowns as well.
For Delta, Osborn finished with 88 yards on 20 carries and Max Hoffman 64 on 10 carries.
“They’re really young kids,” said Wolford of his team who closes the season at 2-8. “I got only like five seniors that really played more than two years. So they are young kids and they’re getting better. You can see it. It’s ugly that we’re losing, but, we are getting better and these kids aren’t quitting.”
Wauseon ended up 4-6 as they won three of their last four.
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010