OTIS — On Friday night, two area teams went head to head in an Eight Man, Division II first-round playoff game as Otis-Bison hosted Sylvan-Lucas.
It was the first home playoff game for the Cougars in five years, and they made the most of it. After falling behind 20-6 to begin the game, Otis-Bison rallied to score 38 unanswered points enroute to a 60-26 victory to become regional champions.
Otis-Bison head coach Travis Starr was excited for his team to finally get a taste of a playoff victory.
“First of all, to get in the playoffs means a lot,” he said. “And every time you can win a game, it’s just something. These kids hadn’t been a part of that. This is their first playoff win since they’ve been in high school, so it’s a great feeling for everybody.”
Starr acknowledged the effort of Sylvan-Lucas, praising the play of Owen Krueger.
“Hats off to Sylvan. They came out, and they hit a couple onside kicks, their offense was rolling, playing great, and we had to make some adjustments,” Starr said. “(Krueger) is a heckuva back, the best one I’ve seen all year. He’s a stud. Defensively, we just had to make a lot of adjustments and tried to limit some things that he was doing.”
Senior quarterback Anton Foust said the Cougars were able to come back from the early 14-point deficit with determination.
“We just have the heart to do it this year,” he said. “Last year, we just couldn’t finish our games, and that was our focus over the summer.”
Foust was responsible for a majority of the offensive production for the Cougars. He accounted in one way or another for all but two of the team’s touchdowns — which included runs of 45, 71 and 31 yards, along with touchdown passes from 69 and 31 yards. He finished the night with 287 total yards and six touchdowns.
Both of Foust’s touchdown passes went to junior Maitland Wiltse.
“It’s big,” Foust said about the advantage of throwing to Wiltse. “He’s not the only weapon we have, but he does make a big difference.”
Wiltse, who finished with three catches for 97 yards and two touchdowns, was on Cloud Nine after the win.
“It’s the best feeling in the world right now. I don’t even have words to describe it,” he said. “We’ve been working all summer for this, and it’s finally paying off. We just have to take it one game at a time now.
“I just give credit to the coaches. It’s just a mentality that when you get down, you have to build yourself back up. We dug ourselves into a hole, and we had to fill it back up.”
A large portion of the dirt that helped fill that hole came from the Cougar defense. Although they gave up 409 yards, they operated on a bend but don’t break mentality. After trailing 20-6 with 3:17 left in the first quarter, the Cougar defense did not give up another touchdown until the 10:36 mark in the fourth quarter.
Senior Daniel Scott, the vocal leader of the defense, was there to keep his team fired up every step of the way.
“This team, I would go anywhere with this team. I love it,” he said. [I was just trying to help them keep the motor going, keep the high intensity, and telling the team we could do it.”
Foust and Wiltse led the team in tackles with 10 each, while Foust added a late interception. Scott was right behind Foust and Wilste, recording nine tackles along with an interception. He also contributed on the offensive side of the ball, with 11 carries for 76 yards.
Sylvan-Lucas (8-2) came out of the gates swinging by recovering back-to-back onside kicks to start the game, both of which led to touchdowns giving the Mustangs a 12-0 lead five minutes into the game.
Otis-Bison (9-1) didn’t waste any time once the offense finally reached the field, as it only took one play for the Cougars to score on a Foust keeper.
Sylvan responded with a touchdown, when Krueger found the end zone from 35 yards out, extending the Mustang lead, 20-8.
But that was when the Cougars began to take control. They answered right back, bringing the deficit to four points with just over a minute remaining in the first quarter. After exchanging possessions, the Cougars went on to score on their next six.
The Mustangs had opportunities inside the red zone but were unable to convert them into points.
Krueger carried the Mustangs, quite literally, amassing 218 yards on 34 carries, but his efforts were simply not enough as Sylvan-Lucas was outmanned.
Otis-Bison will play Ingalls in the sectional round next week. The Bulldogs beat Pretty Prairie, 50-32.