WAYNESVILLE – Parkview's opening drive set the tone against Waynesville on Friday.
It took nine offensive plays—seven runs, two screen passes—and nearly 6 minutes for the Vikings to jump ahead of the Tigers and never look back.
For the fourth week of the season, Waynesville just couldn't hold back a spread offense.
Despite losing for the fourth time, Waynesville coach Rick Vernon said his team can look back at the previous four weeks and work toward making "big stops" more often.
Offensively, the Tigers' first drive was symbolic of the season so far – disappointing. After driving the length of the field to the Parkview 1-yard line, Waynesville ran on four straight downs, but failed to punch the ball through the Vikings' heavy-set defensive line, turning the ball over on downs.
Throughout the game, Varon Martinez (Jr.), who started his first varsity game at quarterback Friday, showed flashes of brilliance and athleticism. But Vernon admitted it will take some game experience before Martinez is fully acclimated to the Tigers' playbook.
"I think [Martinez] learned a lot Friday night and we'll only get better when he's in there at quarterback," Vernon said, "but until you get the full speed of the offense, it just takes a little time to make [run and pass option] reads."
Midway through the second quarter, after the Tigers' defense stood its ground near the 50-yard line, Martinez led Waynesville down into the red zone and capped the drive with a 10-yard touchdown run to tie the game at 7-7.
Parkview responded with a touchdown on its ensuing drive, and then continued its balanced offensive dominance on most possessions before eventually downing the Tigers, 38-21.
Because of defensive struggles, tempers were flaring between the Tigers' defense and Parkview.
During a potential goal line stand situation late in the first half, one player was called for unsportsmanlike conduct, and was eventually ejected, eliciting a response from both teams' coaching staff and the home crowd.
"You just have to play play-by-play," Vernon explained, "the play before, you've got to let it go."
Otherwise, Vernon said he thought Waynesville "made [Parkview] earn their touchdowns in short yardage."
Parkview receiver Connor Ratliff (Jr.) caught seven passes for two touchdowns and 181 of the Vikings' 191 passing yards. On the ground, four players carried the ball multiple times for a combined 153 yards.
Vernon admitted it's frustrating watching Tiger student-athletes toil through weekly practices and not be rewarded with a victory.
"It's always big trying to get that first win," Vernon said, "but we had opportunities Friday night [and] in those other ballgames. These kids work very hard and they're right there, but something has always kept us from getting to that next step."
Page 2 of 2 - On Friday, turnovers plagued the Tigers' offense once again as the team committed three fumbles and two interceptions. Vernon and Waynesville's coaching staff took time Monday to explain just what needs to happen to steer the season in the right direction.
"Sometimes it's better to see what has happened in the first four games in writing," Vernon said. "I've got a lot of statistics, and I'm putting that all on the board [Monday] and we're going to find out why we're where we are."
After losing the fourth game of the season, Waynesville (0-4) now looks to take on winless Rolla (0-4) this week.
"Normally they always play an opponent a week before we play them, and they have played them all very well," Vernon said of the Bulldogs. "They run the ball very well – that's what they like to do is run it."
Both teams have similar strengths on either side of the ball. Perhaps the team that commits fewer mistakes will emerge victorious.
Rola lost to Joplin, 35-7, last Friday.
[Waynesville game stats (Sept. 20): Passing – V. Martinez, 7-of-15, 43 YDS, 2 INT. Rushing – V.Martinez, 14 CAR, 114 YDS, 1 TD, FUM; Willie Parker (Jr.), 7 CAR, 66 YDS, TD; Ronnie McLean (Sr.), 15 CAR, 46 YDS, 2 FUM; Jalen Thomas (Jr.), 9 CAR, 36 YDS, TD. Defense – Desean Migo (Sr.), 9 TKL; Jacob Semple (Sr.), 7 TKL, 1 TFL; Jason Smith (Jr.), 7 TKL; Xavier Fredmonsky (Sr.), 6 TKL; Chaz Stribling (Jr.), 5 TKL, 2 TFL; Joey Bradford (Sr.), 3 TKL, 1 TFL; Michael Thompson (Sr.), 2 TKL, FF.]