Fourth grader Jacob Stott eludes the Schuyler County defender during a Tiger Cubs football game. (Photo by Amy Buford)

by Kirk Stott

The Tiger Cubs roster reached 41 players this year with students from 4th, 5th, and 6th grade. The coaching staff grew to 11 volunteer parents and community members who helped lead the young men for three practices a week until games started, then practices were cut down to twice a week from 5-7 p.m., plus games on Saturdays. The players had a three-day camp in July where they went over the basic fundamentals to help shake off the rust from the previous season, and when practice started promptly August 21 the team was off and running.

The Tiger Cubs played a jamboree at Kirksville High School’s artificial turf football field complex against Kirksville and Clark County’s 5th and 6th grade team, while the Tiger Cub 4th graders scrimmaged against Schuyler, Knox, and North Shelby. The Jamboree left the coaching staff excited about the improvements they saw and the level at which the young men were able to compete, but were still anxious to see what the team could do in a live game environment. Their questions were answered the following week as the Tiger Cubs traveled to Trenton to officially kick the season off.

The road trip to Trenton was a long one and the temperatures reached high 90’s with a higher heat index. The 5th grade game was first and started off a little shaky as Trenton marched down and scored to take the lead 6-0. The Tiger Cubs quickly reversed the momentum as Kamden Forest took the next kickoff return up the sideline down to the Trenton 20 yard line. After carries from Levi Stott to give the Tigers a 3rd and short, Forest took the handoff through the right side of the line and across the right pylon of the endzone for a touchdown to tie the game at 6. The teams then stalled out the rest of the half, but the Tigers would soon change that as Levi Stott took the opening kickoff of the second half, in thanks to some key blocks, up the visiting sideline and into the end zone to take the lead 14-6 after the 2 point conversion. The first play of the fourth quarter the Tigers extended the lead as Dane Blessing ran the quarterback sneak across the goal line behind blocks from Kadence Burnett, Austin Ambrose, Trent Mallett, Wes McSparren, and Kevin Henn. After Blessing ran the 2 point conversion in around the right side of the line the Tigers held the lead 22-6. The final score came late in the 4th as Stott had a 3 yard run as he lowered his shoulder across the end zone to make the final score 28-6.

The 6th grade game proved to be more of a slugfest as both defenses held tough. Owen Hassel and Tigers finally broke the game’s first score off a screen pass to the right behind blocks of Marcus Smith and Lane Stott as he raced to the corner of the end zone to take the lead 6-0. The Tigers would put the nail in the coffin in the 4th quarter as Owen Brown threw for his second score of the day as he hit Beau Triplett on a slant on 4th down from Trenton’s 20 yard line. The blocks of Mason Parsons, Merit Miller, Logan Buford, Vince Dale, Bristol Alexander, and Marcus Smith held a pocket to allow the play to develop. The Tigers ran a wide receiver reverse to Layne Stott who did the rest as he took the ball around the left side of the line to put the Tigers up 14-0. That would be the final score and the end to a successful 2-0 first day of the season for the Tiger Cub program.

The first day set the bar and excitement for the young players and the coaching staff as that day propelled them to finish the year with a combined 8 win 2 loss record. This was a huge improvement for the program as last year the combined record was 0 wins and 10 losses. The fifth grade finished 3-2 and the sixth grade finished the season 5-0. The fifth grade saw wins over Clark twice and Trenton. They experienced a tough loss against Kirksville by one score, as time ran out on their last offensive drive, and suffered a loss to Putnam. The sixth grade saw wins over Trenton, Clark twice, Kirksville (come from behind win), and Putnam.

Players who scored in the fifth grade games after Trenton were Carter Clatt, Dane Blessing, Kadence Burnett, Levi Stott, and Kamden Forest. Players who scored in 6th grade games after the Trenton game were Owen Hassel, Marcus Smith, Lane Stott,  Austin Curry, Owen Brown, and Beau Triplett.

The 4th grade players also were exciting to watch this year as they scrimmaged Schuyler county twice this year and Putnam once. Several Players stepped up as the year went on and improved their play. 4th grade players who suited up this year were Zac Green, Javis Hauk, Matyson Buford, Jacob Stott, Colin Hatfield, Craig Pflum, Emery Kirchner, Avery Cowell, Cohen Small, Braylon Campbell, Gavin Dodge, and Kwayde Hamilton.

5th grade players who played this year were Levi Stott, Landon Blake, Dane Blessing, Kadence Burnett, Wes McSparren, Austin Ambrose, Kamdyn Forest, Jayden Gerren, Alec Jacobs, Evan Arnold, Trent Mallett, and Carter Clatt.

6th grade players who suited up were Marcus Smith, Beau Triplett, Owen Brown, Vince Dale, Owen Hassel, Austin Curry, Jeremy Gerren, Kevin Henn, Merit Miller, Mason Mallett, Logan Buford, Bristol Alexander, Grayson Chance, Mason Parsons, Caiden Nichols, Thaden Forest, and Layne Stott.

All of these young men have come a long way in the course of a year and will be a special group to watch as they move forward into the future.

A huge thank you needs to go out to the parents and coaches who played instrumental parts to the successful season from a planning or a mentoring standpoint. These individuals are Vanessa Triplett, Talia Hatfield, Kelly Ambrose, Josiah Holloway (announcer), Curt Triplett, Lance Campbell, Nic Hatfield, Corey Stott, Travis Stott, William Parsons, Josh McSparren, Robert Arnold, Jason Small, Derek Hamilton, Bryan Chance, Dominick Manco, Matt Buford, and Kirk Stott. The Tiger Cub organization would also like to thank the Scotland County R-1 School District fo the use of their facilities for practice and games, as well as Coach Troy Carper and the Varsity football team for running the chains during the games.

Equipment hand in for the players will be November 1 at 5:30. A pizza party at 6pm will follow and the night will end at 6:30. Once again thank you to everyone who made this year a success. Go Tigers!!