Then there were teams from struggling programs at Division VI schools who played just as hard for 48 minutes simply for pride’s sake. One such gridiron match up took place Friday in Strasburg as the 0-5 Tigers with a 22-man roster, looked for an opportunity to fight their way out of the basement in Region 23 with a win over the 2-3 Rockets of Conotton Valley’s 20-man roster.
This was to be sport in its purest essence, not a contest that would be talked about, speculated on or televised, simply teams from two small schools knocking helmets to see which would prevail. The Tigers, with just 72 boys enrolled in their school, had been shut out on three occasions and had scored just 19 points in their first five games. The Rockets, with 67 boys enrolled, had not beaten the Tigers since joining the Inter-Valley Conference. In fact Conotton Valley had just three league wins previously, two against Tuscarawas Central Catholic (in ’02 and ’06) and one coming last season over Newcomerstown.
Strasburg, in contrast, was a 10-0 team as recently as 2002, had a post season berth in 2005 and had shut out the Rockets in their last two meetings. Conotton Valley wasted no time in showing this meeting would not go on Strasburg head coach Ron Hurst’s career highlight reel.
Conotton Valley won 37-7.
On the first snap from center, Rocket quarterback Erik Bowdish found a streaking Tyler Carrothers for a 62 yard touchdown pass, 6-0.
Strasburg answered after John Smith recovered a fumble and was rewarded by quarterback Nathan Kanouff as he connected with the junior running back for a 33-yard TD strike. Matt Cukanski added the PAT to give the home team a 7-6 lead with 9:04 left in the second period.
Bowdish and Carrothers linked up for a 39 yard gain that put the Rockets on the Tigers one yard line where the Rockets QB took the plunge into the endzone to take back the lead. Bowdish found Steven Carter on the two-point conversion to make it 14-7 with 5:41 left in the second quarter.
Rockets Austin Caswell put the game out of reach for the Tigers with two interceptions in the remainder of the second stanza. The first pick of Kanouff came on the next series as the junior DB took it down the home sidelines and to the house. Carrothers caught a conversion pass from Bowdish, 22-7 visitors.
Nest drive for Starsburg, same result as Caswell stepped in front of a second Kanouf aerial and stunned the homecoming crowd returning the larceny 90 yards for his econd defensive TD with 46.1 ticks left in the first half. Bowdish added the conversion run to send the Tigers to the locker rooms reeling, 30-7.
The Rockets added a 66-yard touchdown pass from Bowdish to A.J. Tiziani in the third period to even their record at 3-3. Tiziani led the Rockets running attack with 72 yards on 10 attempts.
”This is a big win for our program,” said Rockets head coach John Bailey, “Coach Hurst does a great job of getting the best out of his players and it has been a goal of ours to get a win against Strasburg; on the sweetness scale, this one is a 10.”
Jacob Boro rushed for 101 yards on 26 carries to lead the Tigers (0-6).