If you look at the 7th Grade Tigers schedule, you’ll see it’s been a tough trek for this fresh batch of players getting accustomed to their next level in Tiger football. They dropped a scrimmage against 4A Mena, joined the 8th Graders in a win over Magazine, and were victorious against their 4A rivals Waldron. Playing against larger conference teams isn’t a cup of tea, but they had one more hard to swallow 4A team against Elkins last night.
Mansfield fell behind early as Elkins used their high-end speed to hit the corner and dart for a touchdown. The Elks went for a two-point conversion but were stuffed when Wyatt Boyd shutdown Elkins running back in the backfield to keep the score 6-0 Elks. The Tigers made an offensive change in their backfield this week placing Zander Walters, who has been in the wide receiver position, as runningback with star athlete Dawson Robinson. Walters’s power running game combined with Robinson’s speed gave the Tigers an advantage as the Elks had to face a double dose of talent. After a couple of big gains by Walters, the Elks zeroed in on him which was a big mistake. With a play-action to Walters, Cooper Edwards handed the ball to Robinson who burnt up the sidelines for a 70-yard touchdown. The Tigers couldn’t convert the two-point conversion leaving the game all tied up at 6-6.
Mansfield’s defense was caught off guard on a few plays and the speed of Elkins was unmatched. But the Tigers defense made sure that Elkins earned every yard the hard way. Dominic Shores showed he can ace geometry class by taking perfect angles to secure two huge touchdown-saving tackles. James Bausley and Kanon Fisher created chaos for the Elks as they tossed would be blockers like rag dolls while also yanking down any Elkins backs who dared to run up the middle. Linebacker counterpart Alex Hecox secured five tackles for loss in the game while his linebacker counterparts Walters and Robinson made multiple body smashing hits. Although Elkins did hit the outside for a few more scores, they had to pay the Tiger toll for doing so. The players standing in Mansfield’s toll booth were Cooper Edwards, Charlie Collier, Logan Newman, and Traevin Copeland.
The Tigers offense scored another touchdown with a 72-yard run by Robinson, but the score was called back due to a block in the back penalty. The smooth running “WD-40” duo of Robinson and Walters continued to rack up yards and Edwards was solid on passing and rushing in the game, but costly miscues riddled the young Tiger team. Mansfield’s defense also looked quite promising with nearly every player contributing to the tackle count. But the Elks were just too fast for the Tigers to catch as Mansfield wound up falling short in their final non-conference game of the season with a 28-6 final score.
“Pound for pound, I think we were pretty even with Elkins. We just ran out of gas. When fatigue hits, the memory goes out the window and players begin to make little mistakes that add up. This is a young and talented group, so I have no doubt they’ll continually grow and get better. We have two weeks until our next game which gives us time to work on a lot of stuff and get things ironed out.” said Coach Tim Cothran.
The 7th Grade Tigers have faced early adversity in the non-conference slate against much larger 4A foes. But with the heart of Tigers and an unwavering work ethic, Mansfield’s 7th Grade squad is ready to run rampant over their 3A conference schedule. With the extra time off to rest up and polish off their skills, the Tigers will be set and ready when they host the West Fork Tigers on September 24th.