2017-11-08 / Sports

Indians win fifth straight win, 63-0 Tribe finishes 6-4 for the season

by Jamie Harris

Berkeley Springs High School Football Team seniors with coaches Matt Puffenberger and Mark Cowles. - Tobin Whittington, Michael Hovermale, Tanner Clark, Mason Sipes, Matt Cowles, Desmond Bamber, Nathan Mason, RJ McCoy, CJ Ryan, Josh Hartman, Hunter Andrick, Shane Myers, James Barnhart and Patrick Raymond. 
photo by Anita Kesner Berkeley Springs High School Football Team seniors with coaches Matt Puffenberger and Mark Cowles. - Tobin Whittington, Michael Hovermale, Tanner Clark, Mason Sipes, Matt Cowles, Desmond Bamber, Nathan Mason, RJ McCoy, CJ Ryan, Josh Hartman, Hunter Andrick, Shane Myers, James Barnhart and Patrick Raymond. photo by Anita Kesner A lot of things were on the line this past Friday night November 3 as the Hancock Panthers paid a visit to Morgan Field to take on the Berkeley Springs High School Indians in the Battle of the Potomac River season finale between both teams.

The Panthers brought a three game win streak into the contest and the Tribe was on a four game win streak and the atmosphere for senior night was electric.

The Indians won the coin toss and elected to receive the ball first and put their offense to work.

Starting from their own 30 yard line, the Tribe wasted no time in establishing their offense as senior quarterback Tobin Whittington connected with senior tight end Patrick Raymond for a 50 yard gain to move the ball to the Panther 20 yard line. On the next play Whittington found senior wide out CJ Ryan for a 20 yard touchdown. Remington Hiles was successful on the extra point and in less than a minute into the game the Indians were up 7-0.

On the ensuing kickoff, the Indians swarmed to the ball and Ryan was able to strip the ball out of the Panther returner and recovered the fumble to give the Indians the ball at the Hancock 39 yard line.

The Indian offense returned to the field and after a false start penalty moved the ball back to the 44 yard line the offense struck again. Whittington connected with Ty’Jae Armstrong for a 20 yard gain. On first down Whittington found senior wide out Josh Hartman open for what looked like an Indians touchdown. However, the score was nullified due to a Tribe penalty. On first and long Whittington found the end zone on a designed quarterback run from 34 yards out. Hiles made his second straight extra point kick and with 10 minutes left in the first quarter the Indians led 14-0.

Hancock got the ball back, but deep in their own 15 yard line and a few plays later the Indians’ Mason Sipes recovered a fumble to give them the ball back. Needing only one play the Indians senior running back Michael Hovermale scored from five yards out and with the extra point good the Tribe was in control of the game 21-0.

The Panthers and the Indians traded punts on both of their offensive possessions. Later in the quarter the Indians would attempt a field goal that was short. However at the end of the first quarter the Indians still led 21-0.

In the second quarter Hancock turned the ball over on downs to give the Tribe the ball on the Panther 16 yard line. However Whittington was intercepted on the next play by the Panthers Ethan Souders in the end zone. Later Whittington returned the favor when he intercepted the Panthers pass attempt and returned the ball to the Hancock five yard line. The Tribe punched it into the end zone from there as offensive lineman turned fullback Sipes barreled his way into the end zone for a touchdown. Hiles would hit his fourth straight extra point attempt and the Indians led 28-0.

After Hancock found a little offensive rhythm the Tribe defense held and forced the Panthers to punt.

Whittington gained a yard on a run at the Indians 44 yard line. On the next play Whittington hit Ryan with a shovel pass that Ryan took 55 yards to the house for another Tribe score. Hiles made it five for five as he split the uprights and Berkeley Springs lead grew to 35-0.

Berkeley Springs put together one more scoring drive before the end of the second quarter. Starting at the Hancock 44 yard line Whittington connected with Hartman for a three yard gain. On second and seven Whittington’s pass to Armstrong was incomplete. On third and seven Whittington had a decent run brought back on a penalty. On third and 17 Whittington threw down field to Armstrong that saw a pass interference call go against the Panthers. Back at the Panther 43 again the Indians turned to the run game as Hovermale picked up 20 yards on a strong run. On the next play Whittington found Mason on the fly route for a 23 yard touchdown pass and Hiles’ extra point made the score 42-0 at the half.

Hancock could not muster much offense to start the third quarter and the Indians got the ball back at their own 40 yard line. Hovermale lost two yards on a first down run. Whittington then found Hartman open for a short gain, but an unsportsmanlike penalty against the Panthers moved the ball to the Hancock 40 yard line. On the next play, Hovermale picked up 31 yards on a strong run to move the ball to the Panther nine yard line. One play later Hovermale found an opening created by the offensive line and scored from nine yards out. Hiles made it seven for seven and the Tribe led 49-0.

Berkeley Springs added another score in the third quarter this time as freshman running back Payton Thompson continued his impressive first year of varsity football with a score from 15 yards out and the extra point attempt made the score 56-0.

With a running clock ending up the time in the fourth quarter the Indians defensive back Hartman intercepted a Panther pass and returned the ball inside the Panther 10 yard line. Hartman scored on a shovel pass from Ryan and sprinted around the left side for a 22 yard score. Hiles added his ninth extra point of the game and the Indians finished the game 63-0.

With the win, the Indians retained the Battle of the Potomac River trophy for another year with their second straight shutout of the Panthers and improved their record to 6-4. The 6-4 record marked the first winning season in football for the Indians in 10 years. With the 63 points scored in the game, the 2017 Indians became the third highest scoring team in Berkeley Springs history.

Offensively the Indians were led by senior quarterback Whittington (9/14 passing, 221 yards, three touchdowns, four rushes for 58 yards and a touchdown). Senior running back Hovermale finished with seven rushes for 68 yards and two touchdowns. Senior Ryan led the receivers with two receptions for 76 yards and two touchdowns. Ryan also added a third touchdown with a pass. Seniors Raymond (one reception for 50 yards), Hartman (three receptions for 36 yards, touchdown), Mason (one reception for 23 yards, touchdown) and senior RJ McCoy (one reception for five yards) all got touches during the game. The rest of the offensive saw Thompson (three rushes for 19 yards and a touchdown), Larry Miller (one reception for 29 yards) and Armstrong (one reception for 23 yards) all playing a hand in the Tribe’s offensive outburst.

Defensively the Indians were led by senior linebackers Matt Cowles (14 tackles) and Hovermale (10 tackles and a forced fumble). Trenton Ratcliff (seven tackles), Raymond (four tackles) and Noah Kelly (three tackles) also led the defensive charge. Sipes had two tackles including a quarterback sack and a fumble recovery while Hartman and Whittington each recorded interceptions. The Indians defense recorded their first shut out of the season while limiting the Hancock offense to less than 100 yards.

The Indians senior players were honored with senior night festivities before the game have endured many tough seasons in a Berkeley Springs football uniform, but the group stuck together and made this season a success for the Tribe. With injuries that kept Tanner Clark out all season along with Hunter Andrick for three fourths of the season and Hovermale out until the final five games the Indians persevered. However this special group of seniors will be hard for coach Matt Puffenberger to replace next season as they help set offensive and defensive records this year on the gridiron.

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