By Joel Clinger for The Robertson County Times
CUNNINGHAM – “We needed it,” White House head coach Ryan Hamilton said. “We’ve got to finish the job next week.”
White House came away with a hard-fought 7-0 victory over Montgomery Central Friday night in a muddy, low-scoring affair to keep their playoff hopes alive.
The game was delayed an hour due to the surrounding storms, and it rained throughout the night. Both teams chose to keep the ball on the ground for most of the game.
White House played the first half without junior running back Ranen Blackburn. He was shaken up during the White House Heritage loss two weeks ago. Blackburn did play in the second half Friday night, so he should be healthy for next week.
Despite his absence, the Blue Devils scored the only points of the game on the very first drive with the legs of Evan Shankle. He took off for a 50-yard run to get the ball inside the 5-yard line and scored a two-yard touchdown run two plays later.
The rest of the game was scoreless. Montgomery Central only threatened to score three times. The Indians drove the ball inside the Blue Devils 30-yard line at the end of the first half, but Matthew Miller came away with an interception inside the 10-yard line to shut that down.
The Indians got the ball into White House territory on their final two possessions, but Bryson Harper interceptions ended both.
Montgomery Central has struggled to score all season long; the offense was shut out for the third time in the last four games. The defense only allowed seven points and has not allowed more than 28 points this year.
Montgomery Central head coach Jeffrey Tomlinson was pleased with his team’s effort on both sides of the field, despite the result.
“The defense has been doing that all year long, playing great,” Tomlinson said. “I told them, offensively, we’re going through a little bit of growing pains. We’ve just got to fight through those growing pains and keep getting better everyday.”
The loss eliminated the Indians from playoff contention. Tomlinson told his team they left it all on the field, and that is all he could ask for.
“I told them I was extremely proud of them,” Tomlinson said. “They played hard. They played every down. They played as physical as they possibly could.”
Montgomery Central will close out the year at White House Heritage on Friday, Oct. 30. With one game remaining in a season that has included a delayed start, forfeits and many changes, Tomlinson is grateful to have been able to get on the field and coach his players.
“It’s fun to be able to come out here on a Friday night and forget about everything else and just play and coach football because I find myself personally doing a lot more other things during the week that we normally used to not have been doing because of COVID,” Tomlinson said.
“All the paperwork, contact tracing and all those things have been a hassle, but it’s also been fun because we get to come out here and play the game whereas the spring sports, last spring, didn’t.”
Thanks to the victory, White House still has at least one more meaningful game of football this season. The formula to make the playoffs is simple: beat Greenbrier.
The Blue Devils will host the Bobcats in a de facto play-in game on Friday, Oct. 30. Both teams are 2-3 in Region 5-4A and are tied for fourth place. The winner will be the fourth seed; the loser will be eliminated.
Hamilton has to take it one step at a time to be best prepared for the vital matchup next week.
“I think, right now, we keep it simple,” Hamilton said. “We’ve got to win next week. We’ve got to get better this week and go to practice. We’ve got to practice hard. We’ve got to get healthy, so we can have a shot to win next week. We ain’t looking any further than that.”
White House will be looking to make the playoffs for the first time since 2017.