Galion ended the regular season strong with a 42-6 victory over host Pleasant in Mid Ohio Athletic Conference action Friday night.
The Tigers (8-2, 5-2 MOAC) racked up an unofficial 309 yards in the game and its defense held the Spartans to 224 yards.
“We’ve been in playoff mode since week 5,” said Galion head coach Chris Hawkins.
The team’s offense has improved over the last couple of weeks in the regular season with its running and passing game. Tigers quarterback Chase Cooke was 9-of-12 for 122 yards and Drake Barnett had 20 carries for 148 yards.
The Spartans (3-7, 1-6 MOAC) got off to a rough start during the first quarter after losing possession of the ball with a fumble that was recovered by Isaiah Davis for the Tigers. That allowed Jacob Fryer to rush the ball for a 19-yard touchdown. The Spartans were able to come back with a touchdown but missed the extra point.
Pleasant quarterback Joe Craycraft helped his team put pressure on the Tigers. He was 10-of-15 for 153 yards passing.
“Galion’s got a good football team,” said Pleasant coach Mike Carroll, who enters retirement after this season.
Carroll said he will miss the kids the most. “I’m blessed to be in one place for 35 years.”
“I just want to give him congrats on his retirement,” Hawkins said.
He added the Spartans team has talent but is young right now. Carroll said they have four freshman and three sophomores on the field.
According to an analysis from JoeEitel.com, Galion would clinch the No. 8 spot of the Div. V, Reg. 16, facing Edison, ranked No. 1, in the playoffs. The Tigers are confident about its playoff chances.
“I bet on us this year,” said Fryer, who played quarterback last season.
He said the team’s performance last year was “iffy” compared with this season.
“I feel like we’re getting more balanced,” he said, referring to the team’s offense. “Chase throws the ball a lot better (than me).”
Fryer said he’s adjusting fine to his role as a wide receiver.
“It’s definitely a lot different,” he said.
Cooke said he is looking to improve on reading the defense better after facing the Spartans.
“They did a lot of shifting,” he said.
During the fourth quarter, Cooke was looking to throw the ball but the Spartans defense prompted him to instead rush the ball for 27 yards.
“We’re starting to look pretty good,” he said.
Barnett said the team has continued the momentum after beating River Valley. He has high expectations for the playoffs.
“I would be very disappointed if we didn’t get past Week 11,” he said. “Our offense is clicking and our defense is getting better every week.”
Now in his senior and final year, Barnett reflected on the Spartans game as his last game of the regular season.
“I’ve been thinking about this (moment) since middle school,” he said. “It’s kind of bittersweet.”