Impressive showings from the passing game and defense give the Tigers a momentum boost as they approach the regular season

SPRINGFIELD – It was a great showing for the Waynesville Tiger defense at the jamboree in Springfield at Glendale High School.

The varsity shutout Marshfield first, 26-0, then Nixa 8-0 and the junior varsity squad tied 0-0 against Glendale.

Waynesville Defensive Coordinator Karl Wilking beamed while speaking about his defense after their impressive 36 plays (each team had 12 snaps of offense).

“We were just playing basic defense,” Wilking said. “Overall, the kids are buying into our concepts. We started a model three-and-out and shutout. Now the kids want to make sure every game that happens. It’s a good goal. We’ll see what happens when we start playing.”

He knows it doesn’t count for anything, but it has given the team a visible momentum boost.

After slapping the cuffs on the Blue Jays, and only a couple of plays into the exhibition against the Eagles, players on the sideline began to demand perfection of their teammates. Shouts of “no-fly zone” and “don’t let them score” were frequent.

After the defense posted another goose egg, it was up to the junior varsity. And they didn’t disappoint.

“That’s the best part about football – the defense – you have to have a defense to stop them,” said junior Seth Hedrick.

Against Marshfield, the offense was brilliant too.

Senior quarterback Varon Martinez threw for 88 yards and two touchdowns.

Three catches, and 48 of the yards, were to Hedrick.

“I could’ve done better,” Hedrick said, with a straight face. “I could’ve caught all of them.”

He did have a drop against Nixa, but don’t let him fool you, he was exceptional.

On his last catch against Marshfield he snatched a ball and split the defensive backs for a 34-yard touchdown.

“My route was to come over the middle (from the right) and go to the other hash,” Hedrick said. “I saw the safety stay on the other side so I cut across and the ball was right there.”

Junior and newcomer Reggie Walker also had a touchdown catch in the contest.

He caught a ball on a screen pass and weaved through the defense for a 40-yard touchdown.

“I couldn’t do that without the blockers – Seth [Hedrick], Nigel [Farmer] and the line – and it was a good throw from Varon [Martinez],” Walker said.

More impressive though, was his defensive play. Despite this being his first year of high school football, he did not look out of place in his coverage at corner.

In fact, he tipped a pass away to prevent a touchdown and picked off another that fell within the five-yard line.

“Reggie is an exceptional kid,” Wilking said. “I had the luxury of coaching him in eighth grade basketball. He has a motor that runs 100 miles per hour.”

The best part, Wilking said, the more practices and reps that he gets, the better he’s going to get.

Touchdown runs from Jason Smith, 40 yards, and Martinez, 27 yards, added to the point totals for Waynesville. A rush for a two-point conversion was also good.

The Tigers ended up with a 26-0 win for their first jamboree game.

Nixa proved to be a more formidable opponent.

All 12 of Waynesville’s plays were nearly used up on their first drive, and it took a spectacular play from senior Nigel Farmer to save the drive.

On fourth-and-eight Farmer made a sliding catch along the sideline, good for 11 yards.

Later, he caught the winning touchdown, a 12-yard grab.

Everyone from Waynesville seemed to be pleased with the performance of Martinez and his receivers.

 “Our passing game looks better than last season already,” Hedrick said. “I guess we’ll see.”

It won’t be that long of a wait for Hedrick and the Tigers, as Friday will be their first regular season game. They’ll square off with the West Plains Zizzers in Waynesville at 7:00 p.m.

 “I’m so excited for West Plains,” Hedrick said. “That’s all I’ve been worried about. Like coach said [after the jamboree], this is the start of it.”