Friday night's loss to the West Plains Zizzers will smart for a while, but now is not the time for the Tigers to hang their heads

WAYNESVILLE — The Waynesville Tigers didn't take it laying down, but the 21-14 loss to the West Plains Zizzers on Friday stung.

Opportunities presented themselves at several turns and the Tigers failed to take advantage.

“They were there,” Waynesville Offensive Coordinator Derick Heflin said Friday night. “We had a couple of silly penalties, a couple of turnovers. It all came down to execution and [West Plains] executed better than us.”

The red zone opportunities have been well documented; three times Waynesville crossed the Zizzers' 20-yard line and left without points.

Other issues were highlighted Friday in Waynesville though.

West Plains held a commanding advantage on third downs, 6-13 compared to 2-13.

That's an alarming stat.

On those 11 fourth downs, the Tigers elected to go for it seven times (converting four of those) and they punted four times.

Quarterback Varon Martinez was sacked four times and, by rough count, Waynesville ball-carriers were tackled for a loss seven times and for no gain five times.

Fact is, there's plenty of stats that can be tossed around to show how sloppy of a game was played Friday, but now is not the time to be scrapping the season.

Last season Waynesville lost to West Plains to kick off the season.

Not only that, but they lost their first four games before winning four of their next six and then defeating Rolla en route to the District Championship game.

There's plenty to be optimistic about.

Surely the senior-packed offensive line can turn their play around. They're not happy with themselves after their performance last week, and have plenty of motivation to do better (mainly the fact this is the last season of their high school football career).

Also, the exciting play of senior Nigel Farmer was something to behold.

He finished the game with three catches for 85 yards and a touchdown. He also had 10 tackles and a blocked field goal.

Of course, Martinez displayed his athletic ability. His eight completions on 20 attempts passing would've been a smidgen better had there not been three drops by his receivers, but regardless, it was just the first game of the season that he has vowed to become a better pocket-passer.

Yes, things looked bleak Friday night. It's not time to write the season off though.

Heflin says a little practice, belief in the system and trust in teammates could turn this team around.

“There were just plays where we were not doing what we're taught,” Heflin said. “If anything it was just that we were trying to make plays instead of playing within ourselves and the system. If we play team football and buy into the systems, we'll be fine. That will come with more practice and time.”

The Tigers will travel to Lebanon Friday to take on the Yellowjackets. Lebanon is coming off a 48-31 win over Rolla.