A week after being shutout by Clear Fork, I don't think I was alone in NOT knowing what to expect from this team, and that was concerning after nine weeks. All I, and everyone else, knew was that two straight losses to end the year would have been bad. And late Friday night it became more clear that if we lost to Wooster, we'd be traveling to Ottawa-Glandorf for the first round of the playoffs. Nobody wanted that.
But nobody really knew which Orrville team would show up. Would we get the team we saw in week 2 that dismantled Triway, or would we get the inconsistent team that was prone to penalties & turnovers? In a distracted week of special events like the Senior Assembly, Bonfire, captains lunch, no school on Friday and all the pre-game activities on a Saturday night in Wooster, it just had all the makings of a tough night for the Riders.
I got confident when I saw all those Red Rider alums form the tunnel for this years Rider team to run past. At that moment, it was like all the good vibes, all the hard earned victories, all the sacrifice and all of what encompasses 'Red Rider Tradition' was passed from past decades of Red Riders to this years team. It was then I knew that it was just a matter of playing Rider football.
We weren't losing this game, and we didn't.
For the 24th time in the last 34 rivalry games, the red, White & black came out the winners....and Wooster's all-time lead is down to single digits (50-41-9). That hasn't happened since WAY back in 1935 when Wooster held a 16-7-3 edge over the Riders.
On to the minute details....PS - photos by Rod Dilyard. Full gallery here.
First of all, tip of the cap to the folks at Wooster for putting on a fine show. The pre-game buzz was electric. Fireworks were great (set off by the Orrville Fire Dept), Mr. Miller doing the coin toss and calling it a great night of his life....it was all very well done and a fitting tribute. The tunnel of former players was respectful and full of history and the field was in good shape for the amount of soccer & football played on it this year.
Kudos to AD Hamsher and all the folks who made it happen.
Our run game was the difference, but it was in the way Mason & Tre ran that was impressive. Lots of big gains, and gains after first contact. That's so good to see...especially from Tre. I think they feed off each other, and that's a good thing. Mason's 30+ yard run in the first half was very impressive, just a punishing run right in front of the Orrville sideline. I think that set a very early tone. Tre showed some explosiveness that I hadn't seen all season. All good things heading into the playoffs where having a run game is invaluable.
Mason & Benden
For what it's worth, I thought Mason deserved the Benden award for his performance on both sides of the ball. Not taking anything away from Tre because he played his tail off too, but Mason shouldn't be shy about accepting that award. Well deserved.
Wooster having 2 possessions inside the Rider 20 in the first quarter, and only coming away with a field goal was so big. It was classic "bend but don't break" Orrville defense. I said out loud that it was important to keep the lead at 10+ and that pretty much happened. Mason's pick-6 was the dagger and the rout was on.
Ugly uniforms are blue and gold
Nevermind chicken excrement....those Wooster uniforms were kinda bad. I'll say this at first, I really LIKED the idea of breaking out new uniforms for the biggest game of the season. The yellow pants and blue tops were an interesting look. When's the last time Wooster wore yellow pants for a game? Had to be in the 80's, right? It had to charge their kids up, and gave the fans something to "ooh" and "ahh" over. But upon closer inspection....they really weren't that nice, aesthetically anyways. Click picture to get a closer look.
It's one part of what I love about our uniforms...it's timeless. How many different helmets has Wooster had over just the past 20 years? I can think of at least 4 different helmets....and they changed from white helmets to blue. Nothing consistent and nothing that screams tradition.
The Wooster uniforms of the 80's had that classic look, but no longer. From the "borrowed" Wisconsin helmet logo to the mish-mash of uniforms we saw this past weekend. Just a mess.
So Wooster had Kobe Bryant and the Jim Tressel deliver inspiring speeches at their pep rally before the game? Isn't that special. How'd it work out for ya? Good thing games aren't won at the pep rally. Games are won on the field and in preparation and in execution. I will say that I hadn't seen a Wooster team that active and pumped up in pregame in a long time. They got that part figured out. All that noise simmered way down after we put up the first score.
How about some credit to Coach D? He's spotless against the Generals, a perfect 5-0 as a coach. Whatever he's doing, keep it up. He strikes me as a guy with deep respect for tradition, especially when it comes to Orr/Woo. I love, love, love how he makes sure we wear red pants for this one game. No black pants vs. Wooster should just be a rule. This is starting to evolve into a Jim Tressel vs. Lloyd Carr thing.
Speaking of that.....plenty of people questioning the playcalling on the Generals side of things. They seemed to run the ball well out of the "I" and pass it effectively as well on that same drive, but then seemed to go away from it after falling behind. I'm sure not having Devonta Anderson was a big deal, but it seems the coaching seat is getting a little warm.....and that's too bad after a 7-3 season, but I guess 6 straight losses to Orrville can have that affect.
Call Wooster's fanbase apathetic (and I don't think that's being unfair), but even they have their limits. It might be one of those situations where a change is just needed...simply to give a fresh perspective and inject some new enthusiasm into the program. There's some excellent talent coming up through the Wooster system. Might behoove them to make a move now and allow a new coach to set a framework in place before these middle schoolers are freshmen & sophomores.
Lest everyone forget...this was the same coach that from 2000-2004 won 5 straight over Orrville....but I'm sure it's a "what have you done for me lately" type of situation. I think in Wooster, it's more of a "who wants you to stay and who wants you gone" deal more than a lot of communities.
This made me laugh....it was told to me by Wooster AD Keri Hamsher that I....little old me...was responsible for "hacking" into the Wooster Schools website and rigging that "Who wins? Orrville or Wooster" poll that was showing like 6000+ people voting for Orrville and less than 700 voting for Wooster. It's already been taken down so don't bother looking.
Listen, if I'd done it...I'd admit it. Kind of like flatulence....be proud of it. I've got no shame. I'd take full credit and hurt my arm patting myself on the back. But I didn't have a thing to do with it....I'd like to think I've got better uses for my time that rigging some silly internet poll.
Hey...who saw that commemorative program Saturday? Did it look familiar? Here's the cover for anyone who didn't get a chance to attend or purchase one.
I WILL take credit for this one.....my brother in law did all the heavy lifting with the graphics, I just stood over his shoulder and bossed him around. I sent it to AD Hamsher for her to do whatever she pleased with it. Wasn't expecting it to be the cover for the 100th Wooster/Orrville program at all. I did read that extra copies will be available for anyone who wants a keepsake copy. Just contact Wooster Printing and they'll get you all set up.
It was a banner day on the field for the Riders and also for this site. Saturday set a record for most site visits in one day...topping 700. Previous high was just under 600 on March 25, 2010, the day Orrville beat Columbus Ready in the state semifinal basketball game in Columbus. October 2010 was also the biggest month in blog history, nearly topping 6,000 hits. I continue to be amazed and humbled.
WQKT & CPI
I imagine the game will be added to WQKT's audio archive, so keep an eye there to relive the broadcast. I think it would also be cool for Armstrong Cable to get a hold of the broadcast done by Wooster's Clear Picture cable and show it to the Orrville community. I remember them doing that several years ago when Dalton and Smithville met in the playoffs. The game was played at Orrville. The CPI broadcast was shown on the A-channel and was very enjoyable.
Everyone should stop what they're doing right now and send a big 'thank you' card to the Northwest Indians. They win over Alliance this Friday is what allowed us to leapfrog Genoa for the #3 seed and play Triway this weekend. If that hadn't happen, Ottawa-Glandorf would be coming to town as probably the most dangerous #5 seed in Division 4. Not that Triway won't pose problems for us...but in this case, I think it's better to play a local team in the first round.
Speaking of local teams....the region 14 matchups really played out well and will keep everyone close to home for the first round. Ontario travels to Clear Fork (22 minute drive), Huron travels to Elyria (36 minute drive), Ottawa-Glandorf travels to Genoa (90 minute drive) and Triway comes here (22 minute drive).
For being a region so spread out...that's about as good as you can ask for.
I guess that's all. Be back later in the week for another Triway preview. Feel free to share your 100th game memories in the comments section.