By JASON STRICKLAND (HARRISONVILLE, Mo., digitalBURG) – The Warrensburg Tigers (0-4) lost their third District 7 game Friday in a 44-0 defeat at the hands of the Harrisonville Wildcats (3-1).
With the loss, the Tigers will remain in the final and eighth spot in the district standings. The Wildcats’ win puts them in first place after Grandview’s 20-6 loss to Platte County.
Head coach Scott Grinde said he was not pleased with how hard the team played.
“Very disappointing,” he said. “Just from an effort standpoint, I didn’t think we played as hard as we could have.
“The only salvation I can find from it is we get another opportunity next week. I know I have a great bunch of kids. We are just not doing things the way we need to do them.”
The game started off shaky for Warrensburg as it went three-and-out on the opening drive. Harrisonville used its first possession to get a touchdown off a 5-yard run by quarterback Zach Davidson with 10:24 remaining in the first quarter. Caleb Braun blocked the extra point to keep it at 6-0.
Later in the first, the Tigers recovered a Wildcat fumble at the Tigers 11-yard line. But after a false start, quarterback Brett Marr fumbled the ball in the end zone that was recovered by running back Zach Nowlin for a safety to make it 8-0 Harrisonville with 8:41 left in the first.
Other first-half Harrisonville touchdowns were a 5-yard run by Shon Hartzler, a 3-yard run by Tanner Foerschler, a 25-yard interception return by Landon Hern and a 20-yard pass from Davidson to Kenny Baker.
Harrisonville made 3-of-4 extra points in the first half, with a fake extra point turning into two points for the Wildcats after the Hartzler touchdown run. Harrisonville led 37-0 at halftime.
The second half did not see much action as the Wildcats only scored one touchdown with 4:04 remaining in the third to make it 44-0. Wyatt Schenker ran it in from 13 yards out.
Turnovers hurt the Tigers once again, as they had four after giving up the ball five times last week at Grain Valley. Marr threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown, Nowlin fumbled twice, while Logan Means fumbled once.
“Our margin of error is not very large,” Grinde said. “We cannot turn the ball over and give them great field position. (We cannot) do all those things early in games that give them a chance to get way out ahead, and obviously we are not scoring enough points.
“We’ve scored 13 points all year. That’s very, very poor. We’ve got to figure out as a staff what we can do better and what things we need to get us on the right track.”
Nowlin led the Tigers in rushing with 46 yards off 13 carries. Grinde said the offensive line needs to improve.
“I’m an ex-offensive line coach. I’ve played offensive line. Those guys have got to continue to work to get better,” Grinde said. “When we do that, I think we’ve got some talent back there (at running back) that can help us get some things done.”
The Tigers’ next game is their second home game of the season against Sedalia Smith-Cotton on Friday.
“I know that we will be excited and ready to go for that,” Grinde said. “I will just put it out there. If we do what we’ve been doing, it won’t be any different. We just have to learn how to take care of the football. If we do that we will be successful.”
Grinde also had a message to send to Tigers fans.
“I just encourage the fans to not give up on us,” he said. “Get out there and cheer for your boys. You guys as fans are as much a part of this as anybody. We need everybody to be loud and proud and crazy out there, and make it difficult for them.”