Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Thayer finishes season second in state

Orrick Bearcats beat Bobcats 20-8
The Thayer Bobcats lost the Class 1 state title 20-8 in the 40th MSHSAA Football Championships Saturday, Nov. 24, at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis.

But the game was closer than it sounds. The Bobcats had a chance of taking the championship by at least one point until Orrick's third touchdown in the 4th quarter, with 2:21 left in the game.

While Bobcat star running back Michael Lowther has taken the spotlight in most of Thayer's previous games this season, it was the day for another star running back Saturday.

Orrick senior running back Taylor Eubank scored all three Orrick touchdowns Saturday: a 30-yard run in the first quarter, a 34-yard run in the 3rd quarter, and a 41-yard run in the 4th quarter.

Thayer's single touchdown drive was launched with 2:53 left in the 2nd quarter when Lowther intercepted a pass at the Orrick 20-yard line and ran 16 yards to the Orrick 4-yard line. Thayer quarterback Jacob Eckman made the touchdown with a 1-yard run on the third down.

It was Orrick's second trip to the state championships, having won the state title in 1975. It was Thayer's first chance at a state title.

Small town football -- Everyone gets to live the dream . . .
Saturday, Nov. 24, was a Red Letter Day, or maybe a Green Letter Day, for the town of Thayer, Mo. The Thayer Bobcat football team, for the first time in 75 years of Thayer High School football, went to St. Louis, Mo., to play in the Class 1 state football championship game.

Those who didn’t travel to St. Louis Saturday to cheer the Bobcats on, were glued to their radios at home, in their stores, in their cars, listening to the Bobcats. Everyone who could went. They went on three chartered buses, in cars and pickup trucks, vans — and if they had to, they might hitchhike. The thousand tickets allotted to the school were sold out two hours after they went on sale. Many more than a thousand went, the section at the Edward Jones Dome allotted to Thayer was filled to the top. It was green pride for a football team that came out of nowhere; last year they were 4-6, and this year went all the way 13-0 to the State Championships.

Thayer has the only football team in the stateline area that includes Mammoth Spring, Ark., Koshkonong and Alton, Mo. The excitement level when the buses left early Saturday morning was incredible.

When the Thayer team stepped out onto the same playing field that the St. Louis Rams use, magic was in the air. Win or lose, this made it the experience of a lifetime for the team, the band, every Thayer alumnus, every Bobcat fan in that audience — they were all living the dream.

Despite a strong first half that held the Orrick Bearcats to an 8-8 tie, the Bobcats lost control of a second half that could have gone their way but didn’t. Defense played a strong game, but the Bobcat offense was not able to put it together when the crunch hit and deliver in their usual style. They lost 20-8 to the Bearcat second half attack. They won the second place state trophy. The last state trophy was won by Thayer in 1934, first for Track.

After the game, Thayer Coach Billy Webber said “it was anybody’s ballgame at half-time, but they came back and hurt us.” He said they had not seen enough of the Orrick-Adrian second half game tapes to be able to defend against their single wing. Webber said it “gave us trouble.”

The Orrick coach, Patrick Richard, said it was a defensive struggle; we knew it would be a “grinder” Coach Richard said his team has been a second half team all season. Taylor Eubank, who scored all three of the Bearcat touchdowns, said, “you just hold that ball and run.”

Coach Webber praised his team for this year’s achievements taking them all the way to state for the first time in 75 years. He described the loss as “bittersweet.”

Both of these teams were hungry for the championship, Thayer who had never even been to state, and Orrick who has been on the road back to state for the last eight years.

Bearcat Coach Richard talked about his community and their involvement with the team’s progress. “The beautiful thing about Orrick is that when we win, it feels like everybody wins — the cook, the guy behind the counter.”

That’s what makes small town football so exciting, it’s up close and personal, everyone is a part of the dream

Hill ’n Holler Publishing, LLC


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