JOHNSON CITY — Tioga and Walton played each other in the first week of the season. Nine weeks later, they’ll meet again in the Section IV Class D championship game.
Coming into the season, these two teams were expected by many to be playing for the Section IV Class D title and those predictions come true tonight at 7 p.m. when the Tigers take on the Warriors at Johnson City High School.
The first time the teams played, Walton had twice Tioga’s yards but a 24-yard field goal by Brady Worthing and Emmett Wood scored twice on runs from scrimmage — and added a kickoff return for a touchdown — as Tioga won 23-20.
No doubt Walton’s players have had this day circled n their calendars ever since.
So have the Tigers.
Don’t expect a lot of passing.
The Warriors run the ball 86 percent of the time on the season and Tioga runs the ball on an average of 82 percent of its offensive snaps.
When Walton does go to the air, quarterback Dylan Jacob hits 57 percent of his passes. Jacob has 1,031 passing yards on 42 of 74 accuracy with 12 TDs and four picks.
Jacob looks mostly for Cody Ray and Morgan Conden, who have combined for 31 receptions, 810 yards and nine TDs.
The running game is balanced among a five-man platoon. Nick Lamoreaux leads the group with 582 yards and eight scores on 59 carries, and Skyler Peasout has 85 runs for 520 yards and four scores. Jacob calls his own number on occasion and has 370 yards and six scores on 47 carries; Alex Brooker has 362 yards and two scores on 67 carries; and Kaylieb Stanton has 343 yards and a team-high 12 touchdowns on 78 runs. Ball security is an issue as the Warriors have officially put the ball on the turf 29 times — and number that may be low — and lost it 23 times.
Tioga’s offense runs through Emmett Wood. The super soph. has 1,417 yards — one fewer than last season’s 12-game total — and 29 touchdowns on 191 rushes. Brady Worthing has 581 yards and five scores on 55 runs and a host of other runners have seen carriers here and there.
Worthing also has 35 completions on 70 throws for 504 yards and seven TDs with just one pick. Mason Booser, who missed a couple of games as the season wound down, is Tioga’s top receiver with 10 catches for 166 yards and two scores. Of late, Cobe Whitmore, Derrick Gage and Ethan Perry, likely the fastest guy on the team, have been active in the passing game as well.
On the season, 8-1 Walton has outscored its opponents 379-186 or an average of 42-21.
Tioga, 9-0, has tallied 380 points and allowed 162, outscoring its opponents 42-18.
The Warriors have averaged 323 yards on the ground and 115 yards through the air for an average of 427 yards a game.
Tioga averages 305 yards a game on the ground and 56 through the air for an average of 361 yards a game. Tioga has also returned four kickoffs and two interceptions for touchdowns.
“We know what they do, and they do a lot of the same things (as the first game),” said Tioga Coach Nick Aiello. “They have eight more games under their belts to perfect what they do. They’re a well-oiled machine on offense. They have plays off of plays off of plays. They look to pound it on you and pick up first downs. The ability to get off the field is important.
In the end, this one comes down to execution and intensity.
“It’s a matter of matching their intensity, especially up front.”
Aiello said that he sees the teams as equals.
“Looking back at what they’ve done to every other team this year and looking back at that first game, I think we’re evenly matched,” said Aiello. “I know the stats don’t show an equal game, but we got stops when we needed to, scored when we needed to and won the special teams game.
“I think it’s an evenly-matched contest. We’ll find out.”