CHALMERS — Tense. Trepidacious.
The clock wound down late in the fourth quarter Saturday. With a victory secured, many of Frontier’s starters were calling out to their counterparts: “They can’t score.” It wasn’t in a tauting tone — more of a plea to the younger players. To keep West Central off the scoreboard and perserve the shutout.
The Trojans were down to the 10-yard line, setting up for first and goal as the clock moved.
First Skylar Bertram hit Blayden Hubbard at the lone of scrimmage for no gain. Then, the moment of joy — as the ball was snapped and the clock ticked under 10 seconds, Coty Marlatt tried to advance on a sweep.
He was hit in the backfield, then tried to reverse course. It led to Marlatt moving backward more, and finally he was wrapped up by Jordan Thompson for a 12-yard loss.
Shutout preserved, 36-0. Second place in the Midwest Conference wrapped up with a 4-1 record. Six wins for the first time since 2006.
A chance at a seventh for the first time since 2005.
“We got second in conference,” senior Luke Bowers said. “That’s not bad.”
Added classmate and lineman Kurtis Gagnon, “We did something we haven’t done in a long time.”
Frontier (6-2) did it with its third shutout of the season, and in as dominant fashion as both its 44-0 and 38-0 wins earlier this season.
The Falcons allowed just 17 yards of offense, with a pair of sacks and near double-digit tackles for loss. West Central (3-4, 2-2) also fumbled a handful of snaps, which led to several negative-yardage plays.
The Trojans had 85 yards in kick returns, and no pasing yards, to account for 102 total yards. West Central was assessed 23 penalty yards — more than its total rush yards.
“Our defense was awesome, I thought,” Max Copas said. “I’ll bet over half our tackles were in the backfield. We stopped almost everything in the backfield. Our pass defense — we didn’t give them a chance to pass it.”
Copas was one of three seniors who scored in their final regular-season home game. He caught a 13-yard pass from Brooks Sailors, another senior. Sailors threw a touchdown to Caleb Atkinson, and ran in a pair of 2-point conversions.
Treven Girard ran for a pair of touchdowns and 102 yards.
“Tonight, I’m happy for those seniors. You always want senior night to work out well, and I thought it did,” Frontier head coach Troy Burgess said. “We got Brooks, Max and Treven in the end zone … I’m excited for them.”
Seniors Gagnon and Thomas Hicks were part of a line that guided Frontier to 148 yards on 29 carries in what turned out to be a bit of a truncated ccontest.The visitors asked Burgess to run the clock during the second half because their already small roster incurred a couple injuries during the game. It led to the contest ending in just over two hours.
“Go in and have fun,” Hicks said of their orders before the game. “It’s always like that. We come in, take care of business.”
It was the second of what will be three Saturday’s of football for the Falcons. The first was a carryover from a lighting and weather delay, while this one was rescheduled because of a lack of officials. Next week’s season-ender at Fremont is a scheduled Saturday contest.
“It’s different coming in on a Saturday … but our whole goal is to always stay focused, keep our mind straight,” Sailors said. Added Bowers, “Coach told us we might be playing Saturday games in the tournament, so get used to it.”
Frontier’s rush total was its first under 150 in a victory this year, with the caveat the second half wasn’t a full 24 minutes. And while the offensive line committed five penalties for 55 yards, Burgess was happy with its progress Saturday and throughout the year.
“Our offensive line is getting better, and they’ve done a good job,” he said. “We’re very fortunate to have two running backs like we do, to have a quarterback and guys who can catch the ball out on the edge.
“But if the guys up front don’t do their job, it doesn’t do us any good. And those guys up front have gotten better each week.”