When it comes to the high school playoffs, records don’t always mean everything.
Take Saturday night’s game between No. 1 seed Wynford and No. 6 seed Delta for example.
On paper, the 9-1 Royals looked like they would have an easy time with Delta (6-4) in its first postseason game of the Division VI, Region 20.
But Wynford coach Gabe Helbert warned all week that the Panthers would present the Royals with the toughest test of the year.
And Helbert’s worst fears turned out to be true as Delta put together three long touchdown drives to outmuscle Wynford 21-15 Saturday night in Wynford.
“We have 14 tremendous seniors out there who unfortunately played their last game,” Helbert said. “You hate for it to end like this. I feel for our kids right now. It’s a tough pill to swallow.”
As the game started, it looked like the opposite for the Royals, who marched down the field on its opening drive, which ended on a 13-yard scoring scamper by quarterback Zach Hoffman.
Wynford stuffed Delta on its next drive and rolled down the field, but was stopped on a fourth and goal, which turned the momentum of the game.
“It’s on me,” Wynford coach Gabe Helbert said. “We needed to score on fourth down. It’s 100 percent on me.”
The Panthers took control of time of possession and the game, behind bruising runs from Jesse Beverly and Dylan Rogers as well as speed from Bailey Storholder.
“I feel I have a three-headed monster with some really good running backs,” Delta coach Jeff Wolford said. “I honestly think I have three best running backs in Division VI, but no one believes me. Tonight, I think people will start believing me.”
Storholder ran around the right-hand side for a six-yard touchdown to pull Delta to 8-7 at the half.
Beverly followed with two touchdowns from 1 and 3 yards to give the Panthers a 21-8 lead in the fourth quarter.
He ended the game with 163 yards on 29 carries and two touchdowns.
“Our offense can grind it out and that’s what we did,” Wolford said. “We’ve played six teams this year who are in the playoffs. We’ve been through a lot and it’s been a long way to get our kids to believe. If you catch us on a night that we’re on, I feel we can beat anybody.”
Then Hoffman made a huge attempt to retake momentum for Wynford. He personally ran four times for 70 yards on the Royals’ next drive, ending the drive with a seven-yard run to pull Wynford within 21-15.
After a defensive stop, Hoffman led the Royals to the Delta 27-yard-line before an interception sealed the game for the Panthers.
Hoffman finished the game with 7 for 13 passes for 82 yards and 25 carries for 174 yards and two touchdowns.
“That kid is something special,” Wolford said.
Delta will play Van Buren next week at a site to be determined.
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