Groves loses to rival Seaholm 28-35 in tight competition

By Ethan Marcus

Photo by Caden Meyers

Senior wide receiver Zak Meradi (#3) runs a bubble screen route in the fourth quarter to try to get a couple of yards. “The safeties were playing so off so the goal is to get the ball to the slot receiver and get as many yards as possible. The outside receiver’s job is to block, which Tinsley (#9) did perfectly,” Meradi said.

Back and forth.

With a 7-yard touchdown run, senior Seaholm running back Jackson Vance (#34) took an early lead with six minutes left in the first quarter. Junior running back Stavros Panos (#6) then returned the favor early in the second quarter with an 8-yard rushing touchdown, tying the game up at 7 on October 9.

Football head coach Brendan Flaherty expected this type of back and forth game against Seaholm.

“Nobody could stop anybody. They simply had one more stop than we did,” Flaherty said.

With the score tied up at 14, Seaholm again took the lead with another rushing touchdown. Quickly answering, Groves tied the game back up at 21 within just two minutes. Senior quarterback Kaleb Garner (#10) threw a huge 20-yard pass to senior wide receiver Jackson Tinsley (#9).

“I was the primary read on the play, so I knew the ball was coming to me. The cornerback bit on the screen, so I took my route upfield, and Garner threw a perfect pass that I was able to make a play on,” Tinsley said.

Groves received the ball to begin the second half but failed to score. After just 2 first downs, Groves was forced to punt the ball on a later 4th down. With this momentum, Seaholm marched back up the field and scored with 3 minutes left in the 3rd quarter, taking a 21-14 lead.

“There were a lot of plays to be made and we didn’t execute the way we usually execute,” Flaherty said.

Groves was not quite out of the game yet. With anger on the Groves sideline, the offense knew they had to answer. With the ball on Grove’s own 46-yard line, Garner took the snap, rolled to the right, and fired a bomb to Tinsley in the open field. Tinsley caught the ball and charged into the endzone with excitement, tying the game up.

Photo by Caden Meyers

Senior wide receiver Jackson Tinsley (#9) battles with a Seaholm defender to establish a stronger field position. “I think Jackson Tinsley had a great game,” Groves head coach Brendan Flaherty said.

“This play brought us back the whole game. We had worked on this play all week in practice. It really felt good to have success with the play. The offensive line did a spectacular job pass protecting. All of the wide receivers had to stop routes so basically if Garner moved forward the receivers would go deep. Tinsley cut behind the defender and executed the route perfectly,” Meradi said.

Tinsley had four receptions resulting in a total of 92 yards, two of which were touchdown receptions.

Seaholm had the ball to start the 4th quarter. They set the tone with a 5 minute, 80-yard possession. On 4th down at Grove’s 20-yard line, Seaholm decided to go for it. They couldn’t convert the first down, so it was Grove’s ball. Just a few plays later, Garner threw a rocket of a pass to junior wide receiver Jaden Mangham (#5) in the middle of the field. With a prime scoring opportunity, Mangham ran towards the end zone. However, nursing a previously hurt ankle, Manvham couldn’t run at his full speed. A Seaholm corner back slowly caught up to an injured Mangham and punched the ball out on the one-yard line causing the ball to roll out the back of the endzone. This resulted in a touchback, giving Seaholm possession of the ball on their own 20-yard line with three minutes left in the game.

Photo by Caden Meyers

Junior wide receiver Jaden Mangham (#5) drops his shoulder and explodes off of his right ankle into a Seaholm defender. “Mangham really gave it his all out there. He played through an ankle injury and left it all out on the field,” junior running back Stavros Panos said.

Seaholm used this opportunity to their advantage. They carried the ball down the field and scored a touchdown, making the score 28-21. Groves had an opportunity to tie the game up with 2 minutes left, along with 2 time outs. Groves was stopped multiple times in a row and the game came down to a 4th down play in order to preserve any chance to tie the game and head to overtime. Groves attempted a pass to senior wide receiver Zak Meradi (#3).

The way that Seaholm plays on defense allows for an open space in between the cornerback and the safety. We were trying to hit that spot. I went outside and was expecting the ball on the sideline,” Meradi said, ”the play just didn’t work out how we expected.”

Following this stop, the Seaholm offense pulled away and scored once more, giving them a 14 point lead. With just minutes left in the game, Groves did not give up. With perfect protection, Garner floated the ball to junior Jaden Mangham in the endzone. Mangham toe tapped in the back of the endzone to shrink the gap to just 7 points.

Photo by Caden Meyers

Junior center Jimmy Holcumb (#57) snaps the ball to senior quarterback Kaleb Garner (#10) as the offense attempts to gain back momentum late in the fourth quarter. “We are very lucky to have a talented backup and a competitor. Caleb can really go out there and do it. He is always there to do whatever he has to do to get the job done,” Groves head coach Brendan Flaherty said.

All in all, the Groves defense had a rough day. The offense kept the score close, but couldn’t bring them back in as the time ran out.

“We had each other's backs out there. When one side of the ball doesn’t play well, the other side picks them up. In this situation, the offense picked up the defense, but many other times it has been the other way around. It happens,” Meradi said.

Although Groves lost the game 35-28, they didn’t let up.

“The most important thing is that we never gave up,” Meradi said. “We kept fighting until the game was over.”

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