Waverly football has qualified for postseason play for the first time since 2002, and the third time in school history, with a dominating 41-14 win at Fowlerville in the regular-season finale on Oct. 19.
The win improved the Warriors’ record to 6-3, making 2012 the first season since 1982 in which the program won more than five games.
Alante Sims led the way for the Warriors, rushing for 166 yards and three touchdowns in the game.
Waverly quarterback Airic Boyce completed four of his six passes for 57 yards and a touchdown, opening the scoring with a 32-yard TD strike to Derrick Hartwell in the first quarter.
The Warriors scored points in all three phases of the game, with Thomas Houston picking up a Fowlerville fumble and taking it in for a score and LeJchon Marshall returning a punt 78 yards for a touchdown, both in the second quarter.
“We played team ball, and I was happy with that,” Waverly head coach Anthony Walker said. “Things went well for us. The receivers ran good routes and the quarterback was ‘on,’ which was really helpful.”
Offensive output is especially important to Waverly’s success this year. The Warriors have scored an average of 43 points in their six wins, and managed just one touchdown in each of their three losses.
Next up for Waverly was a playoff game at Linden on Oct. 26, which was played after this paper went to press. The 8-1 Eagles have also been an offensive juggernaut, using a spread offense to score 37 points or more in seven of their eight wins.
“They like to pass the ball,” Walker said. “Some teams dabble in it, but Linden runs the spread. They are going to pass the ball. Defensively, they are fast and aggressive and they talk a lot of smack.”
The Warriors have seen a spread offense this year, in a 26-7 loss to Everett in the first game of the year, but the Vikings also run the football out of it. Walker said that his team will have a steep learning curve in preparation for their postseason opponent.
“As a coach, you try to replicate it in practice, but it’s difficult to actually do what they do,” he said. “You can show your kids the film and draw it out on paper for them, but they (Linden) have been doing it all season, and the program has been doing it for several years, so they know where they’re going and what they are doing. Until you go out and actually face it, there are going to be question marks.”
But with a two-game winning streak to end the regular season, Waverly will enter the playoffs with a head of steam.
“We hope to keep it going, for sure,” Walker said. “There are still things we need to clean up, and while we’re playing a team that’s been successful and has been in the playoffs before, we’re definitely looking forward to it.”
If Waverly won their playoff game on Oct. 26, for their first football playoff win in school history, they will play at either Lapeer West (6-3 at press time) or DeWitt (7-2) for the district title on Friday, Nov. 2.