SHARPSVILLE — Mother Nature may have rained on Tri-Central’s senior night but Taylor did not.
The Trojans came out and scored on five of six first-half possessions to take a 33-0 lead into halftime.
The rain let up at halftime but Tri-Central did not, scoring two more touchdowns to post a dominating 47-0 Hoosier Heartland Conference victory over Taylor.
The Trojans ended a five-game losing streak, posted their first conference victory of the season and spoiled George Gilbert’s return to Tri-Central.
“Great senior night win,” Tri-Central coach Shane Arnold said. “Rough conditions for both teams. Taylor’s really beat up. They’ve got a lot of guys out hurt and very few numbers. Have the utmost respect for coach Gilbert and that staff and all he’s meant to us over here.
“It was a good night for us. We had breaks early and took advantage of them. Just a great team effort. Our defense played extremely well [Friday].”
That the Trojans did, holding the Titans to just three yards of offense in the first half and 47 for the game, and 26 of those yards came on Tyler Hall’s run very late in the fourth quarter.
“We’ve got to learn how to prepare for football if we’re going to play football,” said Gilbert, who is in his first year at Taylor after previously coaching at Tri-Central where he led the Trojans to the 2013 Class A state championship. “Our quarterback [Jaelyn Harris] went down on the first fumble and we had nobody else. We had to put [senior Alex Kropczynski] in, who’s run a little bit of quarterback but we worked all week and he couldn’t. We had a practice on Tuesday when we only had 13 boys at practice. When you have that happen, how can you train?
“We’re going through growing pains. They’ve got good attitudes. They’re nice kids. I told the at halftime, ‘You’re all wonderful boys we just have to teach you how to play football.’ But if you remember, 11 years ago it was like this every week at Tri-Central, so we’ll have our day.
“It was a good win for Tri-Central’s program, not a great win because we’re not very good yet but it was a good win for their program and they’re kids played all right, so we’re good,” Gilbert said.
The Trojans employed a three-headed rush attack led by senior Ethan Mason, who rushed 12 times for 134 yards and touchdown. Quarterback Mason Pickens kept the ball eight times for 110 yards and three TDs. He also added a 28-yard passing TD to Deitric Johnson and finished his night 2 of 4 for 32 yards. Senior Braxton Young ran 11 times for 70 yards and a touchdown.
Friday night’s performance came at the end of a tough week for Tri-Central. Sophomore Dylan Jordan’s suicide on Monday and funeral service on Thursday night made it an emotional week for the students, especially as he was well liked.
“We were very nervous going into the game with their athletes and knowing how fast they are and on top of that, the week we’ve had,” Arnold said. “The kids’ practices were rough all week and it should be. Life and that stuff is way more important than football. It came first and we wanted to come first. The kids got focused [Friday], good win for us.”