When the 2019 Mansfield Tiger season began, everyone had questions about how it would go. Would the loss of former Coach Craig Bentley be too much to overcome? Would new head coach Tim Cothran be up to the task? Could the Tigers hang in a conference loaded with some of the states top tier teams? Could the Tigers break the back to back losing streak to Cedarville? Was the 2018 season merely a Cinderella season or was Mansfield Tiger Football back, like really BACK?
Actions speak louder than words and the 2019 Tigers coaching staff answered the questions of every fan not with words, but on the field. Head Coach Tim Cothran was not only up for the task but never skipped a beat from where the 2018 Tigers left off. Cothran led the Tigers to their second consecutive State Playoff appearance, helped them to match their 2018 regular-season record, coached the Tigers past the pesky Pirates of Cedarville, and all the while with style. At the end of the season, it became very apparent that Coach Cothran was the man for the job.
As for the Tigers, they were the showstoppers of the gridiron. It didn’t matter who they were facing, fans knew that they were capable of blowing the roof off at any given moment. From shocking Charleston at Charleston with a literal last-second pick-six for the win to a comeback in Paris deeming them Playoff eligible, the Tigers showed everyone they would not lay down for anyone. Even in their Playoff loss to State Runner-Up Camden Harmony Grove, Mansfield gave every ounce of effort and heart into the game.
Although the team as a whole is what made the 2019 season a success, there were individual players who seemed to stand out. On offense, the Tigers held arguably the states’ best triple threat at wide receiver, a gunslinger quarterback, and a pair of ground and pound running backs which made it hard for opponents to narrow down how to defend the Tigers. Defensively, Mansfield held headhunters in the secondary and brick walls on the line that forced every opponent to be mistake free if they wanted to beat the Tigers. So we got with the man himself, Coach Cothran, and got his thoughts on these “Supa’ Stars”.
Senior, Ethan Stovall: Quarterback
Stovall completed 175/264 passes for 2488 yards and 32 TDs to five different receivers while only throwing seven interceptions last year. Ethan has been a three-year starter only missing two games due to a knee injury as a sophomore. He had grown into this offense and was a tremendous leader. For his career, Ethan has completed 451/731 passes for 5908 yds and 70 TDs while only throwing 21 interceptions. Ethan has played in 31 games so that is less than one interception per game. His career rushing stats are 244 attempts for 1057 yds and 15 TDs. “Ethan has been a tremendous asset to this team. As a coach, I became very dependent on Ethan because he could make something out of nothing. He is a fierce competitor that fights to win. I trusted Ethan and never second-guessed him because he had my absolute confidence. Of course, being a coaches kid helps too. He was a coach on the field, knew the offense and knew where everyone was supposed to be. A true captain.”
Senior, Tyler Holmes: Wide Receiver
Tyler has been a consistent deep-ball threat throughout the last three seasons. He caught 46 balls last year for 722 yards and nine TDs, including a 99 yarder against West Fork tying a state record. For his career, he is second only to Layton Howard in the last three seasons, with 104 catches and 22 TDs. He also had a leading eight interceptions last year, giving him a total of 13 for his career. “Tyler may be the most humble kid I’ve ever coached. In an interview earlier last year, he was asked how many interceptions he had. Tyler honestly had no idea. Tyler had a work ethic and a desire to win and he would do whatever it took to get there. Some of his best plays, from a coaching viewpoint, was when he never even touched the ball. He was a fierce blocker on the edge allowing his teammates to be successful. The only number Tyler was ever interested in, was if the Tigers had more points than their opponents on Friday nights.”
Junior, Randy Claude: Offensive Linebacker
“Defensively, Randy lined up just about anywhere. His speed and his sure tackling ability allowed Randy to be the leading tackler on the team. His biggest play may have been the game-winning QB sack vs Waldron to secure a hard-fought win. Randy had 146 total tackles, three of those for losses. Randy recovered three fumbles while causing one. He also blocked two punts. Randy will certainly be a team leader moving into next season. Randy also helped on offense at RB, gaining 110 yds on 22 carries. Randy leads by example on and off the field. We are looking forward to some exciting things from Randy in the upcoming season.”
Senior, Isaac Cothran: Middle Linebacker
“Isaac was the second leading tackler on the team. He played a lot of roles last year, including RB where he scored six times. Isaac’s strength was in his leadership. He studied film a lot and worked very hard to make sure he was ready for Friday nights. Isaac had 137 total tackles, five of those for losses. Isaac also recovered three fumbles while causing two more. Teams always had to plan for Isaac and he was often double-teamed or cut blocked to keep him from causing havoc. QB’s could often be seen pointing Isaac out and calling him out on his blitzes. As with Ethan, Isaac was a classic coach’s kid. He was our defensive captain. He knew the defense inside and out and he knew where everyone was supposed to be. His extensive film study helped him diagnose plays and get where he was supposed to be.”
Senior, Layton Howard: WR/DB/RET SPEC
“Layton was Mr. Electric! Anytime he touched the ball, you knew it had a chance to get in the end zone. No one will ever forget the game-winning pick-six at Charleston that went 101 yds. Layton led us in multiple offensive categories. He is one of the most naturally gifted athletes I have ever had the good pleasure of coaching. He is just an incredibly God-gifted athlete. Layton led the team in receiving last year with 70 catches for 1168 yds and 16 TDs. Over the span of his three-year career, he led us with 147 catches for 1967 yds and 21 TDs. He rushed the ball 21 times for 75 yds, finishing his career with 56 carries and 324 yds while adding two more TDs. Layton even threw the ball at times completing one pass last year for 26 yds while throwing only one interception. For his career, he completed three passes for 21 total yds. His return game was just as electric. Layton returned four punts last year for 82 yds and a TD (he had one called back vs West Fork). He returned 11 kicks for 510 yds and four TDs. As his reputation grew, teams worked to avoid him by not kicking him the ball. In the last two seasons, Layton had 14 kickoff returns for 763 yds and seven TDs.”
2019 MANSFIELD TIGERS FOOTBALL POSTSEASON AWARDS:
(*All Area SWTR prep team, KFSM
CHANNEL 5 #1 SWEETEST PLAY OF THE YEAR)
ALL-STATE HONORABLE MENTION:
(*All Area SWTR prep team, KFSM
CHANNEL 5 #7 SWEETEST PLAY OF THE YEAR)
(*All Area SWTR prep team, KFSM
CHANNEL 5 all area defensive team, KFSM CHANNEL 5 #7 SWEETEST PLAY OF THE YEAR)
ALL-CONFERENCE HONORABLE MENTION: