The Festus Tigers Varsity Football team opened the 2021 season on a bittersweet note. Despite some standout performances, they ultimately dropped their Week 1 tilt with the Ste. Genevieve Dragons 36-33. A frustrating 4th quarter, ultimately led to the defeat, and will more than likely have the Tigers looking to right the ship in Week 2.
Newcomer by way of transfer from North County, Eric Ruess, commented on the loss by saying, “We had too many mental miscues to win a varsity football game. We need to be more mentally sound and execute our assignments as we are coached.”
Despite the frustration of the loss and missteps along the way, the Tigers played an impressive game. The contest started out tight, as it was knotted at 7-7 after the first quarter, but then the Tigers started to fall behind in the second. They put up 12 points against Ste. Gen’s 15 and went into the half trailing 22-19.
Things got worse before they got better, as the Tigers surrendered another 14 points in the third and were blanked on offense. The 14-0 third quarter swing put their deficit at 36-19. There would have to be a big fourth quarter comeback in the works if this was going to result in a “W” on the stat sheet for Festus.
Then the Tigers, led by stalwart QB Cole Rickermann, dominated the fourth quarter. They put 14 points on the board behind Rickermann’s big right arm, but couldn’t quite get there. After it was all said and done, the Tigers fell just short 36-33, but not for lack of effort from their QB. Rickermann went off in this one, throwing for 344 yards and five touchdowns against just one interception. He was also the team’s leading rusher, scampering for an additional 78 yards on the ground.
When asked about the game Rickermann humbly stated, “We just didn’t come out with the right amount of focus for us to win. each of us would make a singular mistake about every other play that would end up being our demise. We just need to come into each practice with the right mindset in order to learn our assignments and techniques and perfect them.”
Other standouts for the Tigers were WR Arhmad Branch, who lead the team in receiving yards with 123 yards on five catches and two touchdowns, and Reuss, who caught five passes for 78 yards and two touchdowns. On the defensive side, Dalten Yates managed a pair of tackles and had the Tigers’ only INT of the game. He had this to say about the team’s performance, “We had a lot of mental errors throughout the game that ultimately could’ve change the outcome of a lot of plays. We need to have more focus in practice and bring more energy every day.”
Certainly a hungry and humble bunch that are disappointed about the eventual outcome of the game and selflessly putting the onus on themselves. That is a mark of true character and you can tell how much this football team means to these young men.
In fact, we asked them (despite the loss) how it felt to be back on the field with their teammates after a tumultuous and uncertain 2020 season due to the state of the world amidst a pandemic. These admirable athletes responded in kind:
Rickermann: “It was amazing to get back out on the field in front of probably the biggest crowd I’ve ever played in front of. I also love all of my teammates like family so it was awesome to experience Friday night lights with them.”
Reuss: “Loved being back on the field with the team. Even though we didn’t win it was fun to battle with a team that you know has your back.”
Yates: “It felt great getting back out there. We have all been looking forward to this season for a while.”
Heartwarming and real words from some very talented young men who laid it all out there on Friday. All signs point to this game being a motivational tool and ramping up these Tigers to make a statement in Week 2.
Next Friday 9/3 the Tigers travel to Sullivan to get that first big “W” in the books. Kickoff is at 7pm.