Tigers scratch Indians
SALINEVILLE — Every Wellsville senior, even if they did not play in their freshman and sophomore years, walked off Southern Local’s field with their head held high.
The Tigers downed Southern 42-0 for the fourth consecutive win over the Indians. Wellsville finishes at 5-5, 2-2 in the Inter-Tri County White Division. Southern Local ends at 4-6, 1-3.
“It means a lot to me coming from Southern,” Branzen Grodhaus said. “There’s nothing like playing for Wellsville and beating Southern. That’s the main goal every year. We did that for all four years, and I wouldn’t want to play for anyone else but with my team.”
Senior Justin Miller had a little extra celebrating to do. He broke three single-season school passing records in completions, yards (1,847) and touchdowns. Shawn Carter, who is an assistant coach, held the previous marks with 94 completions, 1,588 yards and 94 touchdowns.
“I’m kind of like the student who sits in the back of the classroom but gets an A,” Miller said. “My receivers and running backs who caught the balls are amazing. The athletes we have could be some of the best of all time in Wellsville.”
Miller completed 17 passes for 209 yards and four touchdowns to break the records.
“Justin matured as a young man. He was in growing pains last year,” Wellsville coach Derrick Spann said. “This year Justin has grown mentally beyond his capacity. We always knew he could throw the ball. He’s a very smart quarterback. He’s shown that he can run with ball. I can’t enough about him.”
Three of Miller’s passing scores went to Michael Shope. The two first connected with a 33-yard touchdown in the first quarter. Shope later caught a 23-yarder in the third quarter and another 33-yard score in the fourth. Miller’s other touchdown toss went 10 yards to Grodhaus.
Shope also recorded another touchdown that was the biggest blow to the Indians. With two seconds remaining before halftime, Shope returned an interception 48 yards into the end zone.
“I think we should have been a playoff team for at least beating our rivals,” Miller said. “The goal is to beat (Southern) and then the rest.”
Southern finishes just under .500 in head coach Rich Wright’s second season. Turnovers and inconsistency hurt the Indians.
“We had four wins, and I think we could’ve had six,” Wright said. “When we didn’t turn the ball over, we were successful. We turned it over a few times tonight. We made a few bad play calls. We threw everything we had at them. I thought Miller was tremendous. Branzen’s always tremendous. They played better than us tonight.”
“I have nothing but good words to say about Rich Wright,” Spann said. “He gave me the opportunity to coach high school football. I’ve got nothing but the utmost respect for him. He’s going to turn that program around.”
For the Tigers, they finish with the same record as last year, giving Spann a 10-10 mark in his first two seasons.
“It’s like a roller coaster because we kept going up and down,” Shope said. “We should have been at least 8-2 and in the playoffs, but at least we won our last one.”
“I love Wellsville and would not want to go anywhere else,” Ishmeil Heard said. “I’ve been here my whole life, and I don’t want to go anywhere else.”
W — Michael Shope 33 pass from Justin Miller (kick failed)
W — Miller 1 run (run failed)
W — Branzen Grodhaus 10 pass from Miller (Grodhaus run)
W — Shope 48 interception return (Bradly Cline kick)
W — Shope 23 pass from Miller (pass good)
W — Shope 33 pass from Miller (Cline kick)
First downs 15 9
Total Yards 346 159
Rushes-yards 15-137 14-82
Passing 209 77
Comp-Att-Int 17-21-0 5-8-1
Punts 3-21.0 5-16.0
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 1-1
Penalties-Yards 8-60 7-65