By Brandon Speck
Saltillo has made steps, but there are still more to take for the climbing football program.
The Tigers (6-3, 2-3) – on the very edge of in-or-out of the playoffs – were halfway to a win on Friday night they’ve never been able to get, at perennial power West Point. But a 22-14 lead at the half turned into a 43-22 loss.
Coach Pat Byrd won’t use youth as an excuse. The Tigers aren’t all that young.
“It’s not necessarily a young learning team, but a learning team trying to compete in a big-time situation,” Byrd said. “We haven’t been in that situation a lot.”
Byrd complimented his team’s effort. Saltillo stormed ahead in the last two minutes of the first half. Colin Hardy picked a West Point pass as the Green Wave threatened to extend a 14-6 lead.
Drake McCarter’s 52-yard put pinned the Green Wave and led to a safety. Diamante Pounds ran the free kick back 62 yards for his second touchdown.
To top it off, quarterback Tyler Tollison found David Little on a 50-yard hail mary – Little broke a pair of tackles inside the 5 – and Saltilo took its eight-point lead.
“You’ve got to be able to extend it. You’ve got to be able to put more than one of those together,” Byrd said. “We just didn’t do it tonight.”
West Point improved to 5-4, 3-2 in division play.
The regular season ends this week with a bang for Classes 2A through 4A.
Okolona hosts Calhoun City for the Division 4-2A championship.
While Classes 1A and 5A-6A have two weeks left in the regular season, there are two huge games in 1A. Coffeeville is at Falkner and Smithville is at Hamiton. Coffeville is a 6-0 in the division, with the other three at a loss each – a potential playoff mess.