Reeds Spring dominated Aurora from start to finish in the regular-season finale at Langley Field, sending its eight seniors out in style with a 49-15 victory.
The seniors – J.T. Bayliff, Al Chavez, Cain Hartling, Sean Gross, Nate Cerny, Prestin Lehew, Daniel Scott and Tony Leal – all played and made plays in the victory, sending the Wolves into next week’s Class 3 District 6 opener on a high.
“That’s what you want – you want to have all those kids have the opportunity to play,” Reeds Spring coach Lance Gosch said. “They’ve been a big part of what we’ve done over the last four years. That was nice.
“We only have eight of them, but they’ve provided a lot of leadership and set the tempo for us throughout the week. It’s good for us to see it pay off for them.”
The victory also gave the Wolves a 5-4 overall record, guaranteeing the team at least a .500 record and continuing an enviable streak – Reeds Spring hasn’t finished under .500 since the 2011 season.
“It’s nice for the kids to get a win, and we don’t want five to be it,” Gosch said. “We want to keep working, get better and see if we can’t go get another one. It’s always nice to get a win.”
The Wolves started fast and kept the pressure on Aurora (1-8), starting with a 4-yard TD run by Bayliff on the team’s opening possession.
Junior Colton Cramblett provided the biggest highlight of the night on Reeds Spring’s next possession, taking a handoff and going up the middle, breaking several tackles en route to an 85-yard run.
The Wolves led 13-7 when Gross took over on three consecutive possessions in the second quarter.
He hit a wide-open Chavez for a 41-yard touchdown pass, then ran 7 yards for a score and capped the half with a scrambling 23-yard touchdown on a third-and-17 play with less than 30 seconds to play in the half.
That effectively put the game away, sending Reeds Spring into the half with a 35-7 lead.
It was the perfect way to go out for the quarterback in (likely) his final home game.
“It was really important because it was Senior Night and our last game here – we’ve been playing on this field since we were in third grade,” Gross said. “The same guys – J.T., Al, Tony – we’ve all been playing here together.
“We just wanted to come out on top and show people what we’re capable of, and keep it rolling into districts.”
Gross was efficient and effective in running the Reeds Spring offense. He rushed for 77 yards on seven carries, and completed 4-of-6 passes for 81 yards.
“I wanted to show these home fans everything that I’ve been working on these four years of high school,” Gross said. “My whole family is here, and I just want to impress them, too.
The domination continued into the second half. A big kickoff return by Cailub Solis set the Wolves up at midfield, and a two-play drive included a 23-yard run by Matt Allison, then a 27-yard run by Cramblett.
That triggered a running clock, and after an Aurora touchdown midway through the fourth quarter, the Wolves ended the scoring on a 57-yard TD run by Easton Byrne.
Cramblett finished with 166 yards and a pair of touchdowns on only 13 carries, with Chavez hauling in two receptions for 49 yards.
It didn’t take long after the game for the focus to turn from Senior Night to the district opener, with a likely game at Seneca.
It would be a rematch of a Week 2 meeting, when the Wolves went on the road and took a 16-0 lead into the half, then saw the Indians score 28 second-half points for a 28-16 victory.
“We’re ready to prep for whoever we’ve got, it looks like Seneca, and we’ll be ready for it,” Bayliff said.
“It’s a district game, so you have to be motivated or you’re done. We’re not ready to be done yet.”
In other games involving Tri-Lakes teams on Friday night, Branson saw its losing streak hit eight with a 49-0 defeat at Willard, Hollister dropped a 34-13 decision to unbeaten Mt. Vernon, and Buffalo outlasted Forsyth for a 42-20 victory.