Derrick Webb, Staff Writer
OAK HILL — There has been one constant, no matter the circumstances, all year long for the Waverly Tigers … Mr. Payton Shoemaker.
The shifty senior has ran all over every defense he’s played, has had his way with every defender he’s met after the line of scrimmage and has been the juice that keeps the Tigers’ engine running.
In his regular season finale Friday night, Shoemaker made sure not to disappoint once again.
While Oak Hill’s defense gave the Tigers its best shot, Shoemaker ran for 175 yards and three touchdowns in a 27-14 win … one that clinched a home playoff date for Waverly (8-2, 4-1 SOC II) heading into Week 11.
“Oak Hill is a good team. They’re aggressive up front and they don’t make a lot of mistakes,” Shoemaker said. “They’re coaching staff did a great job of getting them in the right positions. But eventually, we made plays, wore them down and it just added up.”
Shoemaker started Friday’s scoring, capping off a five-play, 49-yard drive with a seven-yard touchdown run. That came at the 6:34 mark in the first quarter. With 2:05 left in the quarter, Penn Morrison caught a 22-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Haydn’ Shanks to make it 13-0 (failed PAT).
Oak Hill (5-5, 3-2 SOC II) provided an answer with 7:21 to go in the second as Keaton Potter punched in a one-yard touchdown plunge to end an impressive 15-play, 80-yard drive, one that took 6:44 off the game clock.
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Shoemaker then scored from seven yards out with 1:07 left in the first half, making it 19-7 after a failed two-point try.
After a scoreless third quarter, Oak Hill cut the lead to five points when Triston Diltz scored on a one-yard score, capping off an even more impressive 19-play, 80-yard drive that took 8:50 to complete.
But the Oaks ran out of time when Shoemaker delivered the knockout punch, scoring from seven yards out with just 5:39 to play.
“We knew it was going to be a battle in the trenches,” Shoemaker said. “We asked out offensive and defensive lines to step up. I really think that both sides of the ball did a pretty good job.”
After Shoemaker’s 175-yard performance, he ends the regular season with 2,039 rushing yards and 28 touchdowns on 258 attempts … an average of 7.9 yards per carry and 203.9 yards per game.
Morrison caught the 22-yard touchdown pass, Will Futhey made six catches for 118 yards, and Shanks ended the night 10-for-20 passing for 168 yards.
Oak Hill was led by Diltz and Potter, who racked up 140 and 108 yards on the ground, respectively.
While the Oaks’ season comes to an end, Waverly is projected to be a No. 3 seed in Division IV, Region 15. If that holds true, the Tigers will most likely welcome in Gallia Academy in Week 11.
“It’s a great feeling [with the playoff game] being at home,” Shoemaker said. “That’s a big advantage for us. So hopefully, we can get a big crowd, put on a show for them and go 1-0 next week.”