The Oliver Ames football team endured a little bit of everything this season:
Last second victories; overtime losses; big wins and big losses.
Against the Davenport Division Champion Sharon Eagles Thanksgiving Day, the Tigers decided to end things on a high note: A convincing 35-7 victory.
"It’s the kind of day we want," Oliver Ames coach Jim Artz said. "Our theme is family and we’re in it through thick and thin and the season was a whole roller coaster of good and bad. .. This is a special day for us. If you’re going to talk about family, this is the day that kind of encompasses all of that."
OA scored early and often to take down the Eagles.
After holding Sharon's offense on fourth down, OA quarterback Nick Cidado took the reins and marched the ball down the field in a drive that was highlighted by Greg Cummings' 50-yard reception and 12-yard touchdown reception.
"We got a great start - a good fourth down stand down in our end and the offense really does a great job," Artz said. "Nick Cidado, I can’t say enough things. Greg Cummings had an unbelievable day living up to his all-star status. He’s as good of a wide receiver as we’ve had here in a long time and he’s got the numbers to prove it."
Cidado finished the day 12 of 21 passing for 268 yards, 4 touchdowns and 1 interception. Three of his touchdown completions were thrown to Cummings, who was named the offensive player of the game with 130 yards receiving.
Cidado found Cummings from 37 yards out in the second quarter to make the score 14-0 before Sharon got on the board.
The Eagles' Jared Fogel intercepted a ball in the endzone then caught a Sean O'Neill pass from 40 yards out to make the score 14-7 with just 30 seconds remaining in the half.
OA - and Mike McMillan - answered immediately, though.
With 3 seconds remaining in the half, Cidado hurled a hail mary into the endzone. After touching the fingertips of a few Eagles and Tigers players, the senior wideout came down with the ball.
"We went down and scored at the end of the half and the hail mary gave them a little bit of momentum back," Sharon coach Dave Morse said. "Our defense was playing well then I thought. It’s a shame that the hail mary put some points on the board for them but when the balls in the air it’s anyone’s."
The hail mary call went off perfectly, Artz said.
"We know that everyone’s first instinct is to jump," he said. "So, let’s leave one person behind not to jump and Mike listened. I said 'who can jump the highest?' and Greg [Cummings] and Franklin [Holgate] raised their hands and I said ‘Mike is going to be the guy who is going to scoop the ball'. It gave us a big boost going into halftime."
After a Joey Tepper 2-point conversion, the Tigers had a 22-7 lead at the half.
McMillan was named as the game's MVP for his play on both sides of the ball. His touchdown reception went along with 100 yards receiving and more than a few open field tackles.
OA's defense, led by defensive MVP Sean McCarthy, held Sharon's Sean Asnes to 62 yards on 15 carries.
"We bent a little bit and didn’t break," Artz said. "That was the key – we felt if we could contain the run game and put some points up to make them throw, that would be to our advantage."
The Tigers put gravy on the turkey in the second half with Cummings' third touchdown reception from 5 yards out, and a 3 yard touchdown run from Dan Lacorazza.
With the loss, Sharon dropped to 8-3 overall and 3-1 in the Davenport Division, which they will represent when they take on Pembroke in the MIAA playoffs Tuesday night.
Morse said the Turkey Day loss won't hinder momentum.
"This game is behind us now," he said. "We’re going to enjoy our Thanksgiving and our guys are moving on."
For the Tigers, who ended the season with a 6-5 overall record and 1-3 Davenport Division record, Thanksgiving dinner tasted a lot better.
Artz hopes the "family" mentality of his outgoing seniors will rub off on underclassmen.
"We say ‘life is football’ and ‘football is life’ and there’s going to be peaks and valleys and you’ve got to rely on the people closest to you when times get tough and you want to celebrate with those people when it’s the good times," he said. "Hopefully they buy into the whole family thing and work hard and do the things they do in the offseason."