Information by Roger Jester
Photos by Melissa Adams
LOGAN – Crowning achievement.
West Jefferson wanted something Fort Frye had.
So they went out and showed who the rightful owner was.
Going into Saturday’s Division VI, Region 23 finals match-up, Fort Frye had the bragging rights of being the defending Regional Champs.
After the Roughriders were done with them, the Cadets were known as the ‘former’ champs.
West Jeff now carries the crown as WJ used their sparkling defense, a solid passing game and the leg of kicker Mason Cordetti to defeat Fort Frye in a 16-14 slugfest at Chieftan Stadium in Logan.
The Roughriders advance to the State Semi-Final against old nemesis Coldwater next Saturday at a yet-to-be-determined location.
Like any memorable playoff match-up, this contest came down to the wire.
West Jeff held a slim two-point advantage they gained three minutes into the final quarter after Cordetti converted a 27-yard field goal.
The Cadets started what would be their final drive of the season with just over two-and-a-half minutes remaining. The passing and running of Fort Frye QB Ian Ellis helped the Cadets wander down the field for what would be a winning score, but it was not to be. An intentional grounding call with 34 seconds remaining put Fort Frye in a must-throw situation. The Roughrider defense held on downs to essentially end the game with 14 seconds remaining.
The Roughriders opened the scoring as Weston Kimley went over from a yard out with three minutes remaining in the opening quarter. The kick, however, failed.
Cadet Ellis had a one-yard TD run of his own seven minutes later. Their kick was good, and Fort Frye went up 7-6.
With a minute-plus remaining until the half (and on a fourth-and-one), West Jefferson went to its almost-automatic combination of QB Tyler Buescher and WR MJ Book, resulting in a 30 yard touchdown. Buescher and Book were the offensive leaders on the night, tallying 330 yards thru the air and 198 yards receiving, respectively.
On the Cadets’ ensuing drive, a tense series of events took place right before the intermission. Now trailing 13-7, Fort Frye ran and passed their way to just 15 yards short of the end zone. After WJ was off sides, the Cadets took their final timeout, facing third and one. With Ellis carrying for Fort Frye, WJ defensive standout Canyon Schneider caused a fumble with just 16 seconds remaining before the break. Roughrider Book recovered, allowing West Jeff to retain its halftime lead.
While the Fort Frye offense continued to move the ball on the ground, they couldn’t get into the endzone that way due to solid defense by Roughriders Garrett Higgins (team leading 11 tackles), Ryan Danford, Ethan Hostetler, Schneider, Kimley, Michael Pettry, and Asher Wilson.
Unable to score again on offense, the Cadets turned to their defense. Maeson Long grabbed an interception, and raced 41 yards for a pick-six with two minutes remaining in the third. The point after vaulted the Cadets to a 14-13 advantage.
The drive that saw Cordetti’s eventual-winning field goal featured some great Book moments, including coming back from an apparent injury (earlier in the drive) to make a tough 35 yard reception to put his team in field goal range for what would end up being the winning kick.
The Roughriders will find out the location of their Final Four showdown with Coldwater for next Saturday some time Sunday afternoon.