Region champs

Published 2:23 am Saturday, October 24, 2009

Four different players scored rushing touchdowns as Straughn defeated Luverne, 28-6, Friday evening, giving the home-standing Tigers the No. 1 seed in Class 3A, Region 1.

“Our guys just gave an outstanding effort tonight,” Straughn coach Trent Taylor said. “After last Friday, when we beat T.R. Miller, you always worry about how your team will respond to a big win like that — you hope they come out with the same intensity next time. I think our kids handled it as well as they could have handled it.”

Straughn (6-3, 6-1 in Class 3A, Region 2) shut out Luverne (6-3, 5-2) through most of the game. The visitors managed their only touchdown with 2:26 left in the fourth quarter.

Straughn started both of its first two drives in Luverne territory, but each scoring chance ended with a missed field goal. Straughn’s third drive of the game ended with a 2-yard touchdown run by Josh Dewrell, who added the extra point to put Straughn up 7-0 with 8:04 left in the second quarter.

Straughn still led 7-0 at halftime and Luverne got the ball to start the third quarter. Straughn’s defense held strong, forcing Luverne to punt and setting the home Tigers up on their own 40-yard-line.

Four plays later, Eric Samuel busted through the middle for a 46-yard touchdown run with 6:15 left in the third quarter.

“We had been running a lot to the outside, but those were designed options where quarterback (Josh) Dewrell is supposed to read the defense and then make a decision,” Taylor said. “That was a good play where we were able to just break it through the middle, as well.”

In the fourth quarter, Straughn added two more touchdowns – Shawn O’Neal scored a 27-yard run and Kaleb Green added a 10-yard run. Green’s run was set up by Luke Fussell’s 50-yard interception return.

Austin Pickrel also intercepted a pass for Straughn, and the Tigers recovered a Luverne fumble.

Luverne’s Monterio May scored his team’s only touchdown on an 8-yard run.

“I knew that if we didn’t match (Straughn’s) intensity that it could be a long night for us,” Luverne coach Les Sanders said. “Obviously, we didn’t match their intensity at all. We can do one of two things now; we can either rebound and get better, or we can fold the tent and give up.”

Straughn won its first region championship since 2000, when the Tigers competed as a Class 2A school. This is Straughn’s first Class 3A region title.

“These guys are a ‘team’ in the truest sense of the word,” Taylor said. “It’s a neat group of kids and they’ve got a chance to really make their mark on this program now. You always say that you want your team to improve from week to week, and I’d say we’ve done that.”

Straughn closes out its regular season by hosting Class 2A Red Level next Friday at 7 p.m. The Tigers will then host the No. 4 seed from Region 2 in the state playoffs, on Fri., Nov. 6.