The Stadium Tigers might lack size, but they know their identity. Behind converted wide receiver Tre Scott at quarterback and small-but-quick running back Nick Loftin – who accounted for 193 yards of offense and two touchdowns – the Tigers executed their Wing-T attack almost to perfection in a 34-12 season-opening win over Mount Tahoma on Aug. 31.
“We’re a ground-and-pound team, even though we might be small in stature,” said Stadium head coach Jess Nelson. “Those two guys are the features of our offense.”
The Tigers started with some trickery, recovering an onside kick on the opening kickoff and scoring on Scott’s one-yard plunge six plays later. After a three-and-out defensively, Loftin found the end zone on a seven-yard run late in the first quarter to make it 12-0.
“Our line got off the ball really (well),” said Loftin, who stands at just 5-foot-6 and 155 pounds. “They did their job today, and that’s what made things work for all the running backs.”
But the Thunderbirds responded, marching downfield on the legs of running back Zachary Holt, and Parshay Small finished an eight-play drive with a one-yard plunge. Holt led Mount Tahoma with nine carries for 65 yards, and added a 34-yard reception in the third quarter.
Loftin scored again on the Tigers’ next drive, taking a counter in from 30 yards out to make it 19-6. The Tigers forced another three-and-out, and Scott connected with Jacob Bills for an 83-yard touchdown on the first play of the next drive to give Stadium a commanding 27-6 lead. The Thunderbirds almost snatched momentum before the half, driving all the way downfield only to have quarterback Michael Rollins come up an inch short of the goal line as time expired.
“We talk a lot about momentum, and it has no favorites,” Nelson said. “There’s five or six plays that can determine a game, and going into halftime that was critical – on the goal line getting that stop.”
The Thunderbirds twice drove deep into Stadium territory in the third quarter, but the Tigers’ defense held firm to stop Mount Tahoma on fourth down. Stadium then put the game away with a 16-play, 86-yard drive capped by Scott’s five-yard touchdown run to make it 34-6 midway through the fourth. Rollins connected with Jakob Wilson later for a 35-yard touchdown to provide the final margin.
Loftin finished with 18 carries for 148 yards and the two scores – while adding four catches for 45 yards – and junior Tarak Jedidi had 11 carries for 78 yards for the Tigers.
“We’re not going to get big-headed, but it gives us a lot of confidence,” said Loftin of the win. “I think we’re going to have a great season. This is Stadium’s year.”
By Jeremy Helling