By Greg Morse (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
The Carthage Tigers rolled to their fifth consecutive District Championship Friday night in a 65-16 win over Parkview. Carthage running back Tyler Mueller was the star of the game with five touchdowns.
After holding Parkview to a three-and-out on their first drive, Carthage quickly marched down the field and Mueller put them on the board with a 1-yard touchdown just a few minutes into the game.
Defensively, Carthage did a great job on Parkview running back Blake Delacruz. The Tigers held him below 100 yards on the ground becoming only the second team to accomplish that feat this season.
“This week I told the kids that we had to make sure that [Delacruz] wasn’t going to be the guy that hurt us. I’m proud of those guys for being able to stop him.”
After back-to-back drives that ended in a 4-yard rushing touchdown by sophomore quarterback Patrick Carlton and Mueller’s second score, the Vikings stopped a fourth touchdown by forcing a fumble on the 2-yard line. The Tigers shook it off by making Parkview punt from their own endzone just a few plays later.
Mueller sealed the first half shutout by scoring two-more touchdowns, putting Carthage up 35-0.
In the third quarter, senior Zeke Sappington was able to get on the field. Sappington went down with an injury earlier this season. He returned to the field off the bench last week. The senior took advantage of his time on the field with a big 33-yard run followed later by a 20-yard touchdown run for his first score since the injury. The score put Carthage up 42-0.
“It was nice to be able to get back in there with my team and knowing I’m still part of this team. I might not have as big of a role as I did at the beginning of the season, but I’m still here and it’s a nice reminder of what it’s like on a Friday night. It was a lot of fun, it meant a lot to me,” Sappington said.
Parkview ended the shutout shortly after, as quarterback Trevor Boice hit Tyrone Newburn for a 19-yard touchdown.
Carthage answered with Mueller’s fifth touchdown on a 2-yard run. On the ensuing kickoff return, the Vikings fumbled the ball and Carthage recovered it on the 2-yard line, which led to a 2-yard touchdown from sophomore Andrew Holden.
Parkview then marched down the field and scored its second touchdown on a 22-yard reception by sophomore Shemarr Rogers.
In the final minutes Tigers sophomore Ashton Lancaster scored his own 1-yard touchdown putting the finishing touches on the 65-16 Carthage victory.
“We were pretty efficient. I don’t think we ever had a third-down offensively which meant we were very efficient on first downs. We didn’t really throw the ball and in whether like this the ball can get hard and slick,” noted Carthage coach Jon Guidie.
Carthage attempted just two passes in the game.
As for Sappington’s return, Coach Guidie had this to say: “I have all the confidence in the world in him, as we do Patrick (Cartlon), but I’m very pleased and very proud of him, he can clearly still run the offense,” Guidie said.
Now the Tigers advance to the state quarterfinals next week. The Tigers will play host to Lebanon either Friday or Saturday.
“We are going to keep it as consistent as possible. Whether it’s week 1 or week 17, we’re going to keep doing the same things and stay consistent,” Guidie said.