After leading the majority of the game, it was a tough loss to swallow for the Indians. There was, however, a bright spot for the Tribe.
“Silver lining is we’ve got kids that are competing,” said Ohatchee coach Jason Howard. “When you’ve got kids who have a drive to compete, then we can correct the little things so we can be competitive. Last year they beat us 28-0. This year it came down to the last second. That shows that these kids have put in the effort and time to make something positive happen.”
After holding the Pleasant Valley offense at bay for most of the game, it seemed that the Indians’ defense would be able to seal the win. However, the Raiders, down 19-14, strung together an impressive drive in the last three minutes. They pounded running backs William Hamby and Hunter Green on counter plays that a tired Ohatchee defense couldn’t stop.
“It’s just a classic Ohatchee, Pleasant Valley game,” said Pleasant Valley coach Jeff Davis. “It came down to the wire and that’s what you expect. Anytime you come down here and play, it’s going to come down to the wire and it was anybody’s ball game until that last quarter.”
Davis said Pleasant Valley’s success running the fullback on the final drive led to the Raider offense being able to open up the counter trap play, which caught the Indians’ defensive line, who was pinching down, off guard enough for Pleasant Valley (3-3) to be able to keep their game-winning drive alive. Hamby capped it off with a touchdown from one yard out, leaving just 13 seconds for Ohatchee (3-3), who couldn’t complete the Hail Mary.
Things started off better for Ohatchee. Justin Areno scored first, punching the ball in on Ohatchee’s first drive. Pleasant Valley responded almost immediately with a big, 47-yard touchdown pass from Raider quarterback Lucas Ford to receiver Edward Roe.
A touchdown pass from quarterback Riley Allen put Ohatchee up 13-7, but they missed their PAT. They took that score into halftime and later extended their lead to 19-7 early in the 4th quarter on a short touchdown run by Tristan Allen. The Indians went for two, but failed to convert on a pass play by Allen.
On Pleasant Valley’s ensuing drive, it looked like a pair of false starts by the Raider offensive line was going to give the Indians the ball back with a two-score lead, but a few big runs later, Ford hit receiver Michael Roe for a touchdown.
“Well, I hope it’ll teach our kids that we need to come out and play in the beginning of the ball game,” said Davis, “instead of waiting around, waiting for something to happen, to come out and make something happen.”
Howard, bleary-eyed and somber after an emotional talk with his team, said he was proud of Ohatchee’s effort and competitive spirit.
“I’d take this group right here and go to war with them any day. Any day. Any day,” said Howard who had embraced and consoled a downtrodden player earlier after the teams shook hands and prayed. “I’ve had teams I could say that about before, but not a lot. This team, I believe in them.
“I believe in them.”
Bobby Bozeman covers prep sports for The Star, follow him on twitter @Bozeman_Star