In spite of the defense's playmaking, the other team always seems to make a few more. They seem to come up just short.
It happened again in sectional, as the Tiger Cubs (1-9) fell to Tri-West 7-2 Friday at Harbison Field.
"It's what we've said all year: we've come very close and we just weren't able to do much on offense. The defensive played their tails off and did a great job for us," GHS coach Mike Meyer said.
In what was a field position game for most of the night, the Bruins (5-5) were able to make a first quarter score stick and hold on for the narrow victory.
After a three-and-out by each squad to open the night, Tri-West took over at its own 45 after a punt and converted on the good field position. The Bruins built the drive on runs by Cody Coll, Brock Sellers and QB John Fredrick. Fredrick also mixed in a couple of passes, the second of which found Coll for a seven-yard touchdown.
"The way it turned out, (that early score) was pretty big," said Bruin Coach Chris Coll. "It was one of those deals where you knew, as wet as it was when you walked out there before the game, that it was going to tear up. It was important to get down there and get a score, and we did that."
The PAT by Joe Gramling made it 7-0 Tri-West with 3:45 to play in the quarter.
Following the Bruin score, Greencastle's offense mounted its most serious threat of the evening. Hayden Stuckwisch set the offense up well when he returned the kickoff 30 yards to the Tri-West 45.
From there, Jordan Hickam took a handoff, bounced outside and ran 37 yards to the Bruin 18. The offense stalled, though, gaining just two yards on the next four plays. Tri-West took over on downs at its own 16.
The second quarter was one of missed opportunities for the Tiger Cubs. It was a field position game all night, and GHS was winning that battle for much of the quarter. In consecutive possessions, they started at the Bruin 34, 40 and 45.
The Bruin defense, however, rose up to stop them each time. Two drives ended with Tri-West interceptions of Tanner Battin, while the other was a three-and-out.
In the third quarter, it was more of the same. The teams traded possessions, but neither was able to punch it in.
The lone GHS score came on a broken play that may also have been one of the smartest plays of the night by Fredrick. A snap from the Bruin 30 went over the punter's head. Once he tracked the ball down, he took no chances, booting it through the back of the end zone rather than giving the Cubs a short field.
After this, though, there were no serious scoring threats from the Tiger Cubs. They managed 31 yards of offense after the break and completed no passes.
For the night, they rushed for 61 yards on 28 attempts. Hickam led the way with 14 carries for 30 yards. Battin was 5-of-19 for 31 yards and two interceptions. Keegan Remsburg caught all five of Battin's completions.
After the game, Meyer spoke to his team, telling them he was disappointed, but extremely proud of them. A 1-9 season may be tough, but this squad never mailed it in. They came to compete every week and came so close so many times.
"I believe in you. I wouldn't trade any of you," Meyer told the squad.
The coach said the key to his team's spirit throughout the season has been solid leadership from seniors. The Tiger Cubs say goodbye to Hickam, Patrick Richardson, Jesse Ford, James Campbell, Dakota Miller and Derrick Stanley.
"The big key is, we've got a good group," he said. "I'm just really disappointed because we had a good group of seniors and they did a great job for us. They didn't let anybody hang it up. Everybody played four quarters. Unfortunately, we came up a little short."
At this point, though, it's about moving forward. Saying goodbye to only six seniors, GHS will have an experienced squad returning.
"Hopefully in the offseason we can get some things going and come back and have a much better season next year," Meyer said.
Sectional 30 First Round
Tri-West 7 0 0 0 -- 7
Greencastle 0 0 2 0 -- 2
TW -- Coll 7-yd. pass from Fredrick (Gramling kick good) 3:45
GHS -- Safety 8:52
Rushing (44 carries, 129 yards) -- Coll 19-91, Fredrick 16-(-3), Sellers 7-33, O'Neal 2-8
Passing (5-12, 51 yards, 1 INT, 1 TD) -- Fredrick 5-12-1-1
Receiving -- Pierle 1-24, O'Neal 1-15, Keck 1-8, Coll 1-7, Hendershot 1-(-1)
Rushing (28 carries, 61 yards) -- Hickam 14-30, Ford 11-18, Battin 1-12, Lenihan 1-1
Next game --Tri-West travels to North Putnam at 7 p.m. next Friday for a second-round matchup.