GLOUSTER — Members of the Trimble Tomcats’ football team walked out of their locker room on Friday, heads held high but still showing the emotion that comes from a season-ending loss.
The Tomcats had their postseason run come to an end on Friday, losing to No. 5 Newark Catholic 35-19 in a Division VII, Region 27 semifinal inside Glouster Memorial Stadium.
The No. 1 seeded Tomcats outgained the Green Wave, 351 yards to 216, but were done in by five turnovers.
“You say that every year, you could get away with those against some teams we play, but against a good team, they’re going to make you pay,” Trimble coach Phil Faires said. “They did.”
While the Tomcats came up a game short of reaching the regional championship game, it was still a remarkable year for Faires and his Tomcats.
Trimble suffered heavy graduation losses from 2019’s 11-1 squad, including the entire offensive line, leading passer and leading rusher.
With 15 new starters stepping into the fold, and COVID-19 wrecking the offseason, it would have been understandable if the Tomcats took a step back in 2020.
That didn’t happen, as Friday’s playoff loss is Trimble’s only one of the season. The Tomcats went 8-1, beating arch-rival Nelsonville-York, winning an outright league title then adding two more playoff victories to their growing total.
The Tomcats did it with only two seniors seeing significant playing time in lineman Ian Spencer and linebacker Todd Fouts.
“He’s come on and really become a good offensive lineman,” Faires said of Spencer.
Fouts was a three-year starter at linebacker, one of the last holdovers from the 2018 run to the Division VII state championship game. He recorded a key interception against Newark Catholic.
“He was Mr. Everything,” Faires said. “We needed someone to play a position, he went to it. With his weight (160 pounds) he’s out of position a lot of times. Just doesn’t have the mass to push them I guess, but he gave everything he had.”
The Tomcats will look back on their mistakes as the deciding factor against Newark Catholic (6-3).
The Green Wave intercepted four passes, one coming in the end zone and another turning into an 85-yard return for a score. Trimble also fumbled four times, losing one of them.
Another one of Newark Catholic’s scores came on a short field, after a snap sailed high over punter Blake Guffey’s head in the first quarter.
“You take away five turnovers, we would win that game, but they caused some of those turnovers too,” Faires said. “That’s what happens. They’re a storied program and they’re expecting to win these games, just like we are now. They came out the better of it this time.”
Despite the turnovers, Trimble only trailed 21-19 going to the fourth quarter.
The Tomcats found the end zone twice in the third quarter to close the gap.
The first third-quarter touchdown was set up by Fouts’ interception. Trimble drove 32 yards in 11 plays, with Tabor Lackey scoring from a yard out.
The Tomcats missed on a 2-point try, keeping the deficit at 21-12.
Trimble got the ball back though, and hit a home run on its next drive.
Lackey threw backwards to Guffey, who then looked deep to Austin Wisor.
The Green Wave were fooled by the double pass, as Wisor was open by a mile. He hauled in the catch for 37 yards, and the Tomcats had all the momentum with 1:39 left in the third quarter.
“We hadn’t run it all year,” Faires said. “Guffey has the arm that can do it. He’s just an athlete. It was wide open.
“That’s a big play. If we win that game, we’re talking about that play a lot more.”
Newark Catholic answered with perhaps its most important drive of the game. It went 56 yards in seven plays, with Tristan Gorius scoring from a yard out for a 28-19 lead early in the fourth quarter.
Gorius broke off a 33-yard run down to Trimble’s four-yard line to set up the score.
“That was big,” Faires said. “They kept it at two scores.”
The final two turnovers were the backbreakers for Trimble.
The Tomcats were knocking at the door of a score, facing second-and-10 from the Green Wave 31.
Faires dug back into his bag of tricks, this time having tailback Bryce Downs try a pass to Wisor.
Wisor and Newark Catholic’s Tyson Mummey both went up for the ball in the end zone, and both initially appeared to come down with it.
The two wrestled for the ball while on the ground, Mummey eventually coming up with it. He was awarded an interception and Newark Catholic took over with just 6:53 remaining.
“I think if they had both held onto it they would have given him the touchdown,” Faires said. “Where he was just out of position a little bit, the guy took it away from him and came up with it. They said it wasn’t duel possession, I guess.”
The Tomcats quickly got a defensive stop, and moved the ball to the Green Wave 21-yard line.
Lackey tried to get a pass to a receiver along the sidelines, but Newark Catholic’s Ryan Poly was able to step in front of the delivery.
He took the interception up the sideline for an 85-yard score, giving the Green Wave the 35-19 cushion with only 3:32 remaining.
The Tomcats struck first, taking the opening drive to the end zone when Wisor came down with a jump ball from Lackey for a 27-yard touchdown.
However, the PAT was missed, and Trimble only led 6-0.
Newark Catholic’s first scoring drive covered only 26 yards after the Tomcats’ high snap on a punt attempt. The Green Wave led 7-6 after Kyle Langenbrunner’s 17-yard touchdown, and they never trailed again.
Newark Catholic would lead 14-6 after Cole Canter’s eight-yard run, and 21-6 after a one-yard run by Gorius.
Canter completed 7 of 11 passes for 109 yards, while Gorius rushed for 47 yards and two scores on 10 carries.
Newark Catholic will host No. 7 Shadyside in the Region 27 final, as the Tigers were 42-9 winners over River.
Lackey finished with 158 yards rushing on 23 carries for Trimble, also completing 9 of 21 passes for 99 yards and another score. Downs had 53 yards on 14 carries. Wisor caught six passes for 98 yards with two touchdowns.
Lackey, Downs, Guffey and Wisor will be among the key pieces for next season. Trimble will have the opportunity to return nearly every starter, and Faires said the group can build off of 2020’s successes.
“We put a lot in this year, with new people in all positions,” he said. “Next year’s going to be just the opposite. We’ll keep running this same offense. We’ve got everything in we need. We’ll just fine tune it a little bit.
“Hopefully we’re going through some teams next year and be back in this spot and hopefully play this same team (Newark Catholic) again, because they’re young too.”
Newark Catholic 35, Trimble 19
Newark Catholic 7 14 0 14 — 35
Trimble 6 0 13 0 — 19
T — Austin Wisor, 27-yard pass from Tabor Lackey (kick failed), 6:46, 1st
NC — Kyle Langenbrunner, 17-yard run (Ryan Auer kick), 2:10, 1st
NC — Cole Canter, 8-yard run (Ryan Auer kick), 8:32, 2nd
NC — Tristan Gorius, 1-yard run (Ryan Auer kick), 2:57, 2nd
T — Tabor Lackey, 1-yard run (pass failed), 4:17, 3rd
T — Austin Wisor, 37-yard pass from Blake Guffey (Blake Guffey kick), 1:39, 3rd
NC — Tristan Gorius, 1-yard run (Ryan Auer kick), 11:17, 4th
NC — Ryan Poly, 85-yard interception return (Ryan Auer kick), 3:23, 4th
First downs 11 17
Plays from scrimmage 38 64
Rushing (plys-yds) 27-107 40-215
Passing yards 109 136
Total net yards 216 351
Passes (cmp-att-int) 7-11-1 10-24-4
Fumbles (no-lost) 0-0 4-1
Penalties (no-yds) 5-35 3-25
Punts (no-avg) 4-35 1-16
Newark Catholic — Tristan Gorius 10-47 2 TDs, Drew Hess 7-30, Kyle Langenbrunner 6-29 TD, Cole Canter 3-3 TD, TEAM 2-(-2); Trimble — Tabor Lackey 23-158 TD, Bryce Downs 14-53, Todd Fouts 2-18, Brandon Burdette 1-(-4).
Newark Catholic — Cole Canter 7-11-1-109; Trimble — Tabor Lackey 9-21-3-99 TD, Blake Guffey 1-2-0-37 TD, Bryce Downs 0-1-1-0.
Newark Catholic — Tanner Elwell 2-53, Drew Hess 2-39, Brandon Buchanan 2-11, Tyson Mummey 1-6; Trimble — Austin Wisor 6-98 2 TDs, Bryce Downs 2-23, Blake Guffey 3-15.