Tigers struggle down stretch, still reach playoffs
Green Forest went 3-8 this year, but for the third straight year, the Tigers found a way to make it to the playoffs.
After starting the season 0-3, things didn't look promising for the Tigers, but Green Forest Coach Jay Martin said all he was worried about was getting ready for conference play.
"As a team, we did what we wanted to do," Martin said. "We learned from some of our mistakes and improved as a team."
That improvement showed, as the Tigers reeled off three consecutive conference wins against Marshall, Cedarville and Yellville-Summit to stretch their conference winning streak to 14, and even their record at 3-3.
A road trip to Mountain View in week seven proved to be the turning point in Green Forest's season. Mountain View ended Green Forest's conference winning streak and put the Tigers in a whirlwind that saw them lose four straight heading into the playoffs. The Tigers lost to Harding Academy in the first round of the playoffs.
"Injuries kind of took a toll on us toward the end of the year," Martin said. "I think that kept the players from performing as well as they wanted to."
Green Forest will lose 11 seniors, many of whom had a major impact on this year's team, including Carl Roberts, Eddie Ojeda and Andrew Sutton. Martin will look to players moving up from the junior high team to replace the graduating seniors.
"The biggest challenge for us is going to be along the offensive line," Martin said. "We have some kids back that are going to be sophomores that we can fill in defensively. I think that will be our biggest improvement when it is all said and done next year is the defense. As much as we want to run the football, we have to have a good offensive line to do that successfully."
Cory Bryant led the Tigers in rushing with 1,286 yards and 12 touchdowns. Roberts had 1,086 yards rushing and 15 touchdowns. Nathaniel Harp had 401 yards on the ground and Dalton Anglin had 377 yards rushing. Mackenzie Arciga had 169 yards rushing. Bryant completed 29 of 71 passes for 435 yards and four touchdowns. Anglin had eight receptions for 120 yards and Ojeda had six catches for 71 yards. Baylor Deislinger had five receptions for 121 yards. Defensively, Anglin led the way in tackles at 64. Roberts had 48 tackles and Cole Cheney had 47. Martinez and Deislinger both had 45 tackles. Ojeda and Arciga each had two interceptions, while Roberts and Deislinger had one. Harp had a 90-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.