By Everett Brazil, III
The Newkirk Herald Journal
NEWKIRK — Tiger football fans began filling the stands at the football field early Friday evening, Nov. 2, for Senior Night, and watched as the Tigers earned their first win this season, beating the Hennessey Eagles 22-20.
The evening began with Senior Night at 6, where senior members of the football team, co-ed cheer squad and band were recognized for their performance during the 2019 season.
The game soon kicked off at 7, and by the end of a grueling game of back-and-fourth action, they Tigers pulled away with their victory, keeping the Eagles at bay at the end of the game to prevent them from scoring a last-minute touchdown.
Coach Graham Snelding is very happy with the outcome of the game.
“It felt good, it was very exhilarating,” he said. “I thought that we played well.”
It was not the only game of the season the team scored, as they earned 12 points against Blackwell Sept. 13, and 6 points each against Oklahoma Christian Academy Oct. 4 and Ulysses, Kan. Oct. 11. Part of the reason the score was higher this game was stronger playing, both with running and passing, as well as blocking the defense for the runners.
“We ran the ball real well. The runners did a good job of finding the holes, and the lineman did a good job of opening those holes,” Snelding said. “We hit several short passes that ended up being big plays for us.”
Although the Eagles earned 20 of their own points, the Tiger defense still played well to keep them at that number.
“I thought we were flying around. We got off the field on third downs a lot,” he said.
It was no easy victory for the Tigers, as the Eagles played on a similar level as the Tigers, making them play harder to earn the victory at the end of the game.
“I think the difference between this game and the other games was that we were playing more closer to where we compete at, on a level of talent,” Snelding said. “We have a lot of younger kids, and they continue to get better each week.”
The Tigers travel to Alva this week to take on the Goldbugs at Northwestern State University, a game they have been preparing for all year.
“They have some athletic kids, they have good linemen. They’ve had a few injuries that have caused them to struggle,” he said. “I fully expect the kids to go out and play hard, so we’ll see what happens.”
Snelding is proud of their efforts throughout the season, as the young team has continued to grow in strength with each practice, and each game.
“I thought our kids have played very well all year, especially considering some of the negativity surrounding the team,” Snelding said. “I’m proud of the kids and the coaches; you can see who people are made of in a bad year.”
Snelding is also proud of the fan support, who came out not just to the home games, but also hit the road for the away games, too.
“Thank you to all of our fans who have been real supportive of us this year,” Snelding said.
Regardless of the outcome of the game, it has been fun for the coaches and players, and they are looking forward to one more chance for a win.
“The kids are excited, the win helped for sure. I don’t think that they are ready for football to be over yet,” Snelding said.