GREENE — These two teams have been aiming at this day since the first day of camp.
Having seen both Groton and Moravia, I think it’s safe to say that — barring the unforeseeable — the winner of tonight’s Tioga-Greene game will win Division VI of the Section IV football conference with the loser advancing as the second place team in that division.
Of course, the real prize comes a few more weeks down the road when the Class D playoffs, which SHOULD also include Walton and Delhi get under way.
The season started out a little rough for Greene. All-everything QB Nate Erickson was out for the first two games of the 2019 season. Eighth grader and heir apparent Drew Erickson filled in admirably and the squad went 1-1 with a win over Deposit/Hancock and a loss to Walton.
Since the elder Erickson’s return, the Trojans are 2-1 with a loss to Sidney followed by wins over Groton and Delhi.
This is a team that can beat you on the ground or in the air. With Erickson, the Trojans have a run-pass option on every snap. Erickson has 754 yards passing and 189 yards rushing in the three games he’s played. The team’s offense improved from 225 yards per game before he returned to 432 yards per game with him taking snaps.
Tristan Austin and Zach Gibson lead a bevy of backs who can take the rock if Erickson doesn’t.
Noah Kennedy is the guy to watch on the outside. He’s averaging 101 receiving yards per game and 31 yards per catch. He can’t be allowed get behind the defense.
Nate Barry, Josh Titus, Austin and Gibson all have multiple catches for the Trojans.
Tioga is far simpler to figure out. Emmett Wood and Brady Worthing will get their carries as will Sloan Manuel and any of a number of other backs. Wood is the headliner, averaging 116 yards per game with 10 touchdowns on 68 carries.
The Tigers have proven they can throw the ball as well. Worthing is averaging 83 yards through the air over the last few weeks. While that may pale in comparison to Erickson’s 340- and 336-yard outings, it’s very effective when a team also runs the ball well.
Tioga runs the ball well. Worthing’s top targets have been Mason Booser and Thomas Cook, who have combined for 151 yards and four TDs on the season.
The Trojans could be susceptible to the run. They’ll likely load the box tonight to cut that off, but if the Tigers can get to the outside tonight they could approach the 370 yards churned out by Walton when the Trojans and Warriors got together.
On the other side of the ball, Nate Erickson wasn’t there, so the stats don’t match up at all.
In a more recent game WITH Nate Erickson at QB, the Trojans led 15-0 at halftime of a game they won 31-6. Tioga played Groton the next week and led 35-6 at the half.
There are two things the Tigers have in their favor. The first is that Booser, Worthing and Wood are all ball hogs in the defensive secondary. As a group, they have six picks this season and have taken two to the house. The other is Tioga’s kicking and return games. Worthing has a pair of field goals to his credit and the Tigers have returned two kicks for six.