courtesy photo/ Shawana Coxcourtesy photo/ Shawana Coxcourtesy photo/ Shawana Cox

Willow’s ends season in Houston

The Willow Springs Bears fought the Houston Tigers Friday night in Willow's first and last district game of the season, losing 43 to 6. 
Willow won the coin toss and elected to receive the football, catching it on the 30. A fumble on the offensive play cost them a few yards, but Ryan Friga was quick to make up for it, catching the pass and running it from the Bear 30 to the Tiger 45 for a first down in Tiger territory. Willow's offense stopped on the Tiger 15, where the ball was turned over. The Bear's defense gave little ground to the Tigers, keeping it firmly in Houston’s territory.
On defense, Marcus Tinsley and Ryan Koehler brought down a Tiger player running down the sidelines, bringing him down just shy of a touchdown.
Gennadiy Dudko, who was wearing no. 75 this game, made an effective push through Tiger defenses, sacking the QB in the backfield for a loss of four yards. Dudko’s efforts combined with Warren Ennis headbutting a receiver out of bounds and causing an incomplete pass to another made for an effective defense. 
John Salter was an absolute tank on the field on defense. With the Tigers only one yard away from a first down near the endzone, Salter muscled through the line of scrimmage and forced the QB back for a 14-yard loss. 
Ryan Koehler made Willow’s only touchdown of the evening. On the Tiger 40-yard line, Koehler received a pass and was promptly hit by a Tiger. Shrugging off the defender and running down the left, Koehler would run the ball for a 40-yard touchdown. Willow went with the two-point conversion, but Houston blocked the play.
Tinsley suffered a serious leg injury in the last quarter and was taken off the field in the ambulance. Starting quarterback Taylor Rothermich was out with an injury and never had a chance to take the field this game.
Willow ends their season in a 3-7 overall, 2-5 in the SCA, and 6th in the South-Central football district.
First year head Coach Travis Payne did a remarkable job at training and taught the Bears to stand toe to toe with the fiercest in the district and win against teams they had lost against previously, like Cabool and Salem.
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