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AKRON — Whitko continued its shock and awe for the season on Friday night clinching its first solo Three Rivers Conference title in the last 20 years.
In a close battle against TRC powerhouse Tippicanoe Valley, the Wildcats carried the honor of Coach Wayne Swender’s Indianapolis Colts Coach of the Week award to a 21-14 victory.
After the game, as the players chanted, “Coach of the Week,” Swender broke into the huddle interrupting his team, “No, no, no, it’s team of the week!”
Friday night’s win was a team effort, 60 tackles were shared between 14 defensive players.
“The defense did a tremendous job tonight,” Swender said.
Though there aren’t statistics to show it, the offensive and defensive linemen played a big role in the games leading to the conference title.
“It goes back to our offensive and defensive lines. They don’t get their names in the paper, but they’re the ones battling in the trenches,” Swender said.
The Wildcats carried all their momentum from last week’s overtime game into the first quarter against the Vikings, jumping out to a quick 14-0 lead following touchdowns from Harmon and quarterback Alex Stoddard. They also shut down all offense for Tippy Valley, causing two consecutive three-and-out drives.
The Vikings stole momentum at the end of the second quarter, picking up two touchdowns in the final four minutes of the half.
“The first quarter we just went right at it; the second quarter they got a little more intense,” Swender said.
In the Wildcats game last week against Rochester, it was DJ Fouce who dominated the running game, but Friday night’s game was all about running back Dakota Harmon.
“We’ve got good backs back there. Last week DJ had a really good game and that opened it up for Dakota this week,” Swender said.
Harmon picked up 146 of Whitko’s 195 rushing yards. On the defensive end, Harmon had five tackles and one sack.
There was no scoring in the third quarter with five punts shared between each team to end the quarter.
The game was tied 14-14 going into the final 12 minutes of play and the Wildcats weren’t going to allow for another overtime game.
With 9:25 to go, the Harmon-Fouce duo marched the Wildcats 44 yards up the field and into the end zone.
Whitko carried its momentum through the final minutes of the game, sealing their TRC title and perfect conference record.
“I love my linemen,” Harmon shouted.
Friday night’s win raises Whitko’s winning streak to seven putting its record at 8-1.
“We havent talked aobut the win streak, we just talk about one game at a time,” Swender said.
Next week kicks off sectionals, with Whitko hitting the road to play Bremen.
“Now we’ve got to prepare for a very good Bremen team,” Swender said.
Early in the season, Tippy Valley played Bremen, losing by five.