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Lions Overcome Adversity, Beat Tuscarora 27-20 to Remain Unbeaten

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by Alec Parker

Special alumni contribution to Lion’s Pride

Before the game head coach Joe Polce had to say this about his team.“Going into the game against Tuscarora we need to improve on our overall focus as a team. I thought we lacked focus and emotion in our win last week against Silver Oak.  I am looking for a group of guys with a laser focus and plenty of emotion tonight.”

After tonight the whole team needs to take a whole step back, and let a huge breath out as Walkersville narrowly escapes and wins their 21st consecutive game against Tuscarora 27-20.

Without star linebacker/fullback Tyler Gleason you could tell Walkersville was a little shaken up from the start. However Walkersville was the first to strike, as number 15 senior Billy Gant runs in a two yard touchdown on a designed quarterback keeper. Tuscarora quickly struck back with the score of their own, and this marked the first time this season Walkersville trailed. Tuscarora did score again to put them up 14-6, This looked very bad for the Lions, however the knight in shining armor number 22 senior Jacob Wetzel late in the second quarter punched in a seven yard touchdown. With the two point conversion being successful thanks to Ty Littleton, Walkersville had tied the game going into halftime 14-14.

I can’t imagine what happened during that halftime speech from the coaches, but I can tell that Coach Polce believes that being a motivator is important. “I feel like it is important for all coaches to be motivators – we start working on players buying into their role on the team when our off season lifting program in January. We constantly remind our players that the team and team goals are way more important than individual accomplishments. We also praise all of our players for doing the little things it takes to make a great team.”

Coming out of halftime Walkersville needed a big push on both sides. Defensively Walkersville really put a stop on Tuscarora’s short pass attack, and forced them to run the ball up the middle. Offensively the Lions seemed still out of it until yet again Mr. Wetzel showed up, and ran the ball into the end zone for his second touchdown of the game, and that’s puts him double digit touchdowns on the year.

Walkersville now has the lead 21-14 going into the fourth quarter. On the first play of the fourth quarter Walkersville now established the run game even more with another touchdown this time by Ty Littleton, but the extra point was blocked so Walkersville was up 13 with plenty of time left. Walkersville really saved the day when the Lions defense held the Knights on the goal line for three straight plays. It was remarkable, and with the fans cheering it seemed like Walkersville had this in the book. However Tuscarora got a good punt return, and some flags, and good passes later Tuscarora found themselves on the goal line again. Walkersville almost stopped the Knights again, but the QB just barely got in, but with no time left on the clock Walkersville edged out the victory.

Many players spoke up about how they felt what season has been like, and what happened in this game. Senior Christian Policelli plays linebacker/fullback, and he had this to say about how they prepare for this game, and what they’re trying do this season. “ We’ve spent a lot of time going over the various formations they run and have watched a lot of film on them to pick up their tendencies throughout the games they’ve played. We’ve done a much better job this year with balancing out the passing and running game with our offense. The only thing we really need to work on are small things like mental mistakes. Ultimately, our goal as a team was to follow up with a great season like we did last year and ever since the state championship, that’s been our motivation this whole off season in the weight room and on the track and now, in the regular season too.”

Senior offensive lineman Ethan Parrish had a different idea about the Lions as a team, and how they should be feared. “Yeah no doubt, we’ve all played together for years. On the field it feels like we’re all one person, we just know what’s going on and who’s doing what. We put that all behind us. We just don’t think about it. All we do is take care of one game at a time. Again we’ve played together for years. And the reason we’re a feared team is simply because we have people who want to play ball.”

Coach Polce, and his son senior Josh Polce both hit the sam nail as they thought the team was more experienced, and how they impacts the efficiency off the team play. “I think we’ve significantly improved our passing game and overall offensive efficiency. Also, our defense has improved with experience as we have nine returning starters from last year. It feels great to be a part of such a close team. We’ve all been playing together since GVAA, and are accustomed to winning. With some challenging games coming up, I’ve learned how to play in big games and handle adversity. We know as long as we play together no one can beat us, but us.” said Josh Polce.

“This team is very similar personnel wise to last years team the main difference is that we have 26 seniors and that brings additional experience that we may not have had last season.” said coach Joe Polce.

Walkersville really has been playing at a higher level this year. This might have been a tough one, but the people Walkersville will bounce back, and play tougher next week, which is the homecoming game against Wootton at 7 PM.