Wayne County has heard plenty of whispers over the past year leading up to Friday, Aug. 25 for the 107th game between longtime football foes, Wooster and Orrville. The county seat dominated its much smaller neighbor from the east for five straight games by an average winning margin of 38.2 points, but there is a reason why games aren’t played in online forums, Twitter feeds or at the local watering hole. On a beautiful fall evening at Red Rider Stadium’s Heartland Field, the players in the 2017 edition of Generals versus Red Riders buckled up their chin straps, threw on the shoulder pads and squared off for bragging rights in what turned into a 20-16 upset victory by Orrville.
Wooster, led by junior quarterback Dylan Dagley and senior Michael Ciccolani, drove down the field on the General’s opening drive, only to stall out in the red zone as the Red Rider defense dug in to keep the blue and gold out of the end zone. Wooster had to settle for a 29-yard field goal by Joe Stoll to give the Generals the early 3-0 lead with 7:48 remaining in the first quarter. Orrville responded later in the quarter after a thundering 70-plus-yard punt by Ben Summers pinned Wooster deep in their own territory, forcing the Generals into a short punt out of their own end zone, which set the Red Riders up with prime field position. Orrville didn’t squander the opportunity as freshman Marquael Parks sprinted 20 yards on a pitch from junior quarterback Logan Domer to pay dirt (followed by a Cain Duskey extra point), giving the Riders a 7-3 edge.
The Red Riders scored again in the second quarter as Domer connected with Parks on a 37-yard TD pass (Duskey extra-point) with 5:11 remaining in the quarter, giving Orrville a 14-3 lead. Wooster wasn’t about to let the game slip away from them, and senior Calvin Blair responded for the Generals by returning the kick-off for 70 yards before he was finally brought down, giving the Wooster offense excellent field position. That is when Dagley went to work and connected with Avalon Harper on a 21-yard scoring strike (Stoll extra-point), eating into Orrville’s lead 14-10 with 4:11 left in the half.
On Orrville’s next drive, with hopes of running some clock and going into the half with a lead, the Riders instead put the ball on the turf, and Wooster’s Zac Ntia pounced on it at the Riders 38-yard line, again giving the Wooster offense nice field position. Dagley deftly managed the clock and directed the Generals into the end zone with 44 seconds left in the half as he hit junior Donoven Hall for a 6-yard TD (two-point conversion failed) to give the Generals a 16-14 halftime advantage.
— OhioSportsTicket.com (@OhioTicket) August 26, 2017
Both defenses made adjustments the second half, but Orrville’s rose to the occasion, forcing three second-half turnovers while holding the General’s passing game to 56 total yards and shutting down Blair to just three receptions for 13 yards. With Wooster’s top running back Trey Mathis out due to injury, the Rider D stuffed the General’s running game by holding them to a total of 80 yards for the game.
It was the Orrville offense that squeaked out one final scoring drive of 10 plays, covering 70 yards. With 5:49 left in the third quarter, Domer squeezed in between his tackles on a 1-yard dive (two-point conversion failed) to put the Red Riders up for good, 20-16 and an upset win.
Wooster still had a shot to win on the final drive of the game, but freshman defensive back Sheron Phipps made a leaping interception of a Dagley heave to seal the Red Rider victory.
Logan Domer led Orrville in passing by going 12 of 27 for 159 yards with one passing TD and one INT. He also led the Riders in rushing with 113 yards on 21 attempts with one rushing TD. Marquael Parks finished his first varsity football game with 66 yards on the ground and one rushing TD while also catching the ball for 66 yards and one TD.
At the end of the night for Wooster, Dylan Dagley finished 13 of 26, passing for 67 yards, two TDs and two INTs while also rushing for 37 yards. Michael Ciccolani ran for 22 yards on six carries, and Chase Marshall ran the ball eight times for 30 yards. Calvin Blair had the big kick-off return in the second quarter but was held in check the rest of the night by Orrville’s man coverage defense.
Orrville coach Doug Davault was thrilled to stop Wooster’s five-game winning streak over the Red Riders. “Defensively we held up. Their scores came on short-field situations due to the long kick-off return by Blair and a fumble by us, but Sam Auble and Jake Davis had big-time performances for us tonight, and our defense dug in and did what was needed to be done. We only have six seniors on this team, and those guys have been through this for four years. It was great to get them a big win tonight. For a bunch of young kids on this team, they competed their butts off tonight. Their resolve was incredible. It wasn’t a clean game. We are going to look at the tape and see we didn’t play great, but man oh man did we compete. It was fun.”
The scuttle butt around the county was starting to sound like the sixth oldest rivalry in Ohio was close to being put on ice once the contract between the two schools is up for renewal. After the Red Rider’s victory, it would seem the rivalry is healthy and well. Yes, both schools are no longer able to schedule the traditional rivalry game for the regular season finale due to opposing conference schedules (Wooster currently plays in the Ohio Cardinal Conference and Orrville joined the Principles Athletic Conference in 2016). Yes, there is a size disparity with student enrollment between the two schools (Wooster is Div II in football, and Orrville is Div V). What else is new? Yes, this rivalry should continue.
— OhioSportsTicket.com (@OhioTicket) August 26, 2017
Other splendid celebration with ceremony and fuss (aka pomp and circumstance) that is associated with this game
Prior to kick-off, Wooster senior Zac Ntia and Orrville senior Sam Auble were presented with the Charles W. McMillan Award in honor of academic and athletic achievement. The Joseph R. Benden, Jr. Player of the Game award winners were Wooster’s Michael Ciccolani and Orrville’s Logan Domer.
The streaky rivalry is alive and well
Davault gave his opinion on the rumors. “This rivalry is not going to cease in my time if I have anything to say about it. If you have been playing something for 107 games, you don’t stop. If folks are saying it’s not competitive anymore, go back to the 1960s and Orrville has won more than Wooster. Through the 1990s until now, it has been a series of streaks with one team winning five games then losing five, winning six then losing six. That is what it’s been. We won seven in a row. Then Wooster won the last five. We are back winning again, and hopefully it’s a new streak for us in the right direction. This rivalry isn’t going to end anytime soon.”
For the 107 games dating back to 1903, Wooster leads the all-time series, 55-43-9. For the past 54 games, dating back to 1963 (the second half of the all-time series), Orrville leads the series 30-21-3 (no game was played in 1980). Since 1990 Orrville holds the edge 17-11. Each team boasts a seven-game win streak in the rivalry. Wooster’s was from 1903 through 1916. Orrville’s was from 2005 through 2011.