by, Tyler Thompson (for Ozarks Sports Zone)
SPRINGFIELD — The Glendale Falcons (5-5) want a second shot at the Waynesville Tigers (6-4). And, after Friday’s 56-0 shutout of Parkview (1-9) in the Class 5, District 5 semifinal at Glendale High School, the Falcons get exactly what they want: one more shot against the Tigers for the district championship.
But that is one week away.
As for the Vikings defense, it did all it could to at least contain the potent Glendale offense — with defensive line stunts and cornerbacks undercutting routes in an effort to throw a wrench into the Falcons’ plans.
But Glendale found the holes in the defense on their first possession, as sophomore wideout Chris Floyd snared the 15-yard touchdown from senior signal-caller Gavin Watts.
Parkview turned over the ball on back-to-back possessions to open the game, playing right into the hands of Travin Mathis (pick-6 score with 43 seconds to play in the first half) and his Glendale counterparts.
When the defense is proactive and provides balance, Mathis — who continues to evolve in the secondary — said the team will be a tough out from this point forward.
“I feel like, as a team, we are slept on,” Mathis said, who scored from 51 yards out. “Glendale is a team that can make it to state and win state. We are pretty confident we can do it.”
After dropping a heartbreaker to Waynesville, 28-24, on Oct. 18, the Falcons drew positives from the home loss at Lowe Stadium.
The focus has led to a resurgent team, and the home crowd witnessed how focused the team is heading into the district title game next week.
“We were all focused. We were ready to go,” Mathis said. “We did a lot of preparation in practice and watching film. Everyone was all on the same page.”
Mathis didn’t mince words regarding the rematch.
“We are ready to go,” he said.
As for Mathis’ counterpart at quarterback, all Watts did was hurl four touchdowns in his abbreviated one-half performance.
Watts found Floyd, Jack Clinkenbeard (26 yards) and senior Ben Shoemaker (27 yards, 49 yards) for the first-half scores.
Watts — in atypical Watts fashion, though — also tossed two interceptions.
Something in which he said will be correctable throughout next week’s preparations.
“It seemed like … we weren’t doing too much tonight,” Watts said of the offensive game plan. “When we were on the same page, pretty much everything was working for us. I had a couple of mistakes there at the beginning of the game, but we played as a team and kept doing what we have been practicing.”
Up 34-0 at half, Watts watched from the sideline, already resting up for Waynesville.
Sophomore Ahmias Hart came on for Watts, going to work, finding Clinkenbeard on the 43-yard touchdown reception..
Hart continued his assault on the Vikings, as he found Floyd on the ensuing drive for the 40-yard score.
With the offense flying high, the defense would not be overshadowed.
The unit forced seven turnovers, with the final pick-6 coming in the stingy hands of Glendale senior linebacker, Bryce Clark, who returned it 30 yards for the final score of the night.
The Falcons ended the regular season with a sour taste in their mouths, as they fell to a potent West Plains (9-2) squad, 49-14.
So to come out and dominate in all facets is a nice precursor to next week’s championship game.
“Yeah, it was a big confidence booster for us going into next week,” Watts said of the shutout win. “We really played well as a team tonight. But we are going to have to take that into next week and put it all together to beat Waynesville. We know they are a good team, but we know that if we play together, then we can beat them.”
Watts said the key next week is to strike when the iron is hot.
“The last time we played them, a couple of mistakes and we let them hang around,” Watts said. “And a team like that, that has a lot of talent, you have to put them away early. And we just didn’t do that. We have to jump on them early and keep the foot on the pedal.”
Watts is the beneficiary of quick, versatile skill position players around him, but one in particular continues to be a safety blanket for the senior quarterback.
Shoemaker continues to display his elusiveness this season.
“The past couple of years, he has gotten a lot of experience rotating in here and there. And this summer, he seemed to be a go-to guy for us,” Watts said. “Me and him are just really good, on the same page. His hard work in practice is really paying off.”
Glendale finished with 381 yards of total offense, and the team found the end zone eight times.
However, two interceptions and a fumble didn’t cost them on this night.
But overcoming those tough positions next week will put more weight on Watts and counterparts’ shoulders.
The Falcons head to Waynesville Friday, Nov. 15. Kickoff is 7 p.m.