CAREY. The Tinora Rams loaded the busses, and hit the road for round two of the 2021 OHSAA playoffs. The Rams were making the 90-min trip southeast to Carey High School to take on the Blue Devils.
Both Tinora and Carey entered the contest with almost mirror like records, traits, stats, and both riding10 game winning streaks.
The host, the Carey Blue Devils, were coming in with a 10-1 mark, and a Northern 10 conference championship. The only blemish on the Blue Devils season was an opening week loss to Hopewell Louden. Carey came in averaging 270 yards on the ground, averaging 43 PPG on offense, while allowing just under 9 PPG on defense.
The Rams were coming in also winning 10 straight, averaging 39 PPG on O, and just under 10 PPG on D. The Rams were averaging 236 yards per game on the ground.
The opening 5 minutes went great for the Tinora Rams. Brandon Edwards took the opening kickoff to the Tinora 49-yard line, setting up the Tinora offense with fantastic field possession on their opening drive.
After marching down to the Carey four-yard line, a second down penalty backed up the Rams to the Blue Devil nine-yard line. After an incomplete pass, and a run for minimal yardage brought up forth down, the Rams special team unit came on to attempt a 27-yard field goal. The kick sailed wide right, leaving the Rams empty-handed after a promising opening drive.
After teams exchanged two possessions, the first quarter ended scoreless, 0-0.
Carey tool their first possession on the second quarter and marched downfield, and with 7:55 remaining in the half, fullback Issac Carman took it in from 1 yard out, the XP by Anthony Bell made it 7-0 Blue Devils.
A Carey clocked punt on the next possession did no damage as the Rams defense came through again, stopping a Blue Devil drive.
As in the first quarter, both teams exchanged possessions, with the teams heading to the half with the score 7-0 Carey over Tinora.
Both defenses seemed to dominate in the first half. As we entered the game, both team’s stats at the half mirrored each other. Four possessions each, 21 plays each, Carey with 87 yards of offense, Tinora with 86 yards. This was the first time the Rams trailed since week #4 at Antwerp.
The second half started the same way the first ended, teams exchanging possessions.
The Rams, outside their first possession, were looking to get a spark. A 31 yard pass play from Nolan Schafer to Cole Anders got the Rams out of the shadow of their own goal posts, giving the Rams a much-needed first down at their own 36-yard line.
Trying a bit of trickery, the Tinora offense tried a reverse on what appeared to be a pass option by WR Gavin Eckert. Eckert seemed to lose the handle, having the ball jarred loose, the Blue Devils recovered on the Tinora 31-yard line.
Eating up the rest of the third quarter on the drive, the Blue Devils of Carey entered the fourth quarter, still holding on tight to that 7-0 lead over the Rams.
The fourth quarter started with a Carey drive, a questionable flag against the Rams inside the five, and a stonewall by the Tinora defense at the one-yard line kept the game at 7-0 Blue devils.
Again trying to find a spark that seemed to be missing since that opening drive, the Rams offense took over from their own one-yard line with just over eight minutes remaining in the contest. After a run netted five yards on second down, on a third and five from their own six, Rams QB Nolan Schafer tried to hit fellow senior wideout Cole Commisso on an out pattern for a first down, Commisso lost his footing on the soggy turf at Carey, the ball wound up in the arms of Carey DB Byrce Conti, Conti took it in from 10 yards out, increasing the Carey lead to 14-0 with 7:06 remaining in the fourth.
Things would go from bad to worse for the Rams after this. On the ensuing kickoff, the ball was stuck like a wedge shot at the one-yard line, Tinora’s Cole Anders again trying to ignite the Rams picked the ball up, jetting through the wedge, Anders had the ball jarred loose, Carey recovering the ball on their own 30 with 6:55 remaining. This was the third turnover in the half for the Rams, all within a six-minute span.
Again, the Tinora defense would stand up to the task, forcing a Carey punt, the Tinora O took over trailing 14-0 with 5:50 in the fourth quarter.
Now in almost desperation mode, unable to mount any sustainable offense since that initial drive, the Rams went to the pass game, although capable, it’s not the strong suit of the Rams attack.
After incomplete passes brought up a fourth down from their own six-yard line, the Rams were forced to try for the new set of downs. A Schafer pass down the right side for Commisso fell incomplete, handing the ball over on downs back to the Carey Blue Devils at the Tinora six-yard line.
The Blue Devils running back Jordan Vallejo took it in from 7 yards out with 4:47 remaining in the fourth, the XP was missed, Carey led 20-0.
Still in desperation mode, the Tinora offense took the field with under five minutes remaining in their season. Another Tinora turnover resulted, the Rams fourth of the half, basically ending any chance of a comeback.
Carey took over with four minutes in the fourth, taking over at their own 35-yard line.
The Rams would get the ball back one more time, just over one minute remaining, but were unable to get into the end zone as the final whistle sounded, ending the Tinora season.
The Tinora vaunted rushing attack could never get on track, rushing for 50 yards on 22 carries. Rams senior signal caller Nolan Schafer led the Rams with 142 yards through the air. Tinora ended with just 192 total yards in the contest.
The Tinora defense stood up to the test all night, holding the Carey powerful attack to just 152 total yards on 48 plays. Carey had 133 yards on the ground. The Tinora D didn’t allow over 40 yards in any quarter tonight.
The loss ended the Tinora season at 10-2, a 2021 GMC Championship, and a fantastic class of seniors who left a ton of memories for Tinora fans. You all left everything on the field at Carey tonight, a break here or there, and you move on, you played with the Blue Devils tonight in every aspect of the game.
And last but not least, THANK you coach H, Mike Heilshorn for your 39 years on the sidelines for the Tinora Rams! You will not be forgotten, you have left a legacy at Tinora High School for 4 decades. Lots of young, and now some old adults, can still hear your words of encouragement in their heads.
Thank you for always being a friend, and always willing to assist. It’s hard to imagine, but the next time the Rams take the field, coach H will not be on the sideline or in the coaches box.
With the win, Carey improves to 11-1 and will play next Saturday vs the Crestview Cougars (Ashland)
Leaving the gridiron for the final time in a Rams uniform were the below:
Senior football players: Hyler Hespe, Dylan Camp, Jashua Bland, Casen Wolfrum, Eric Bohn, Baeden Hancock, Bryce Bailey, Hayden Becker, Nolan Schafer, KP Delarber, & Cole Commisso.
Trainer: Ellie Weimken
Cheering for the final time for football were Senior Cheerleaders: Emily Meyer, Lily Burkholder, Regan Ankeny, Megan Hancock, Gaby Westhoven, & Ariana Hinojosa
Schafer 12-22 – 142 yards 2 INT
Christian Commisso 7 for 11 yards; Delarber 4 for 14 yards, Edwards 3 for 18 yards, Anders 2 for 3 yards; Cole Commisso 1 for -1
Cole Commisso 7 for 77 yards; Edwards 3 for 31 yards; Anders, 2 for 33.
Pics courtesy Amber Becker and Mrs Wells, thank you both.