Tigers’ playoff road ends in area round
Poth stymies Tidehaven offense in 23-7 win
Dreams of another deep playoff run for Tidehaven were dashed Friday night as the Poth Pirates handed the Tigers a 23-7 defeat in the Region IV Class 3A Division II area round.
After making all the way the to the regional finals last season, the Tigers (6-6) found it tough to move the football against a tough Poth defense. Tidehaven was limited to 204 total yards by the Pirates’ defense.
“We just couldn’t push them up front. That’s what it really comes down to. To win, you’ve got to be able to push the guy in front of you out of the way, and we couldn’t,” Tidehaven coach David Lucio said.
It was a 13-7 game heading into the fourth quarter, giving the Tigers hope for a late rally to victory. That hope was muted when senior quarterback Blake Garcia limped off the field with a leg injury late in the third quarter. Garcia never returned to the game and sophomore Jackson Sones had to finish the game at quarterback.
Lucio felt that they were wearing down the Poth defense and had a chance to make a late comeback.
“Our plan was to play them sideline to sideline halfway through the third quarter and then we were going to get them,” Lucio said. “Then Blake went down. Offensively, he’s about 90 percent of our offense and that kind of made it hard on us.”
While Tidehaven’s offense struggled to find a rhythm throughout the game, the Tigers’ defense kept them in it most of the way. The Tigers’ D limited Poth, which was averaging 407 yards per game on offense, to just 237 total yards.
“The good news is, most of those guys (on defense) come back next year. That gives us something to build on,” Lucio said. “We just have to find someone to replace Blake. That’s going to be hard, though.”
The game started with a bang for the Tigers. On their first possession of the game, Garcia broke loose on a 75-yard run for a touchdown with 11:03 left in the first quarter. Joe Martinez kicked the extra point to give the Tigers a 7-0 lead. Garcia went on to finish the game with 100 yards rushing on 11 carries.
Poth bounced back on their first possession. The Pirates drove 57 yards to tie the game with 9:23 left in the first quarter. Poth running back Drew Arevalos finished off the drive with a one-yard touchdown run. Seth Dryzmala kicked the extra point to even the score.
Later in the first quarter, the Pirates took the lead when Arevalos scored on a two-yard run with 3:36 left in the period. The play capped a short 41-yard drive. The Pirates missed the extra point, leaving them with a six-point advantage.
The Tigers’ defense held off several Poth threats to extend its lead throughout the rest of the first half. They held on downs at their own 5 and 40 on Poth drives in the second quarter. With 1:06 left in the first half, linebacker Joey Kacer recovered a Poth fumble at the Tigers’ 8 to stop another threat.
Tidehaven held Poth scoreless in the second and third quarters but in the fourth, Dryzmala kicked a 22-yard field goal with 11:54 left in the game to extend the Pirates’ lead to 16-7.
On the Tigers’ next possession, Poth defensive back Matt Respondek picked up an interception and returned it to the Tigers’ 6 with 10:51 left in the game. A short time after that, Cooper Conn caught a five-yard touchdown pass from Kolton James to help give Poth its final margin of victory.
The Pirates (11-1) move on to face Ganado in the Class 3A Region IV semifinals.
Even after a tough defeat, Lucio was grateful for another successful season that was full of challenges.
“Our boys really kept fighting. We really went through so much stuff this year. So many injuries,” Lucio said. “They all showed up and they all put out and we had a successful year.”