In a clash between two of the older, most-storied schools in the region, Wooster came away with a tight 19-14 win at Sparks in the final game of the season for both.
On senior night, the Colts used a balanced offensive attack and a stout defensive effort that gave up less than 100 yards through the air. Wooster quarterback junior Connor Doolin connected on two long touchdown passes, including the game-winner, to former Colts signal-caller senior Hunter Triplett and ran in another one himself. Sparks was led by a potent running attack spearheaded by junior Hunter O’Meara, but penalties hampered the team’s chances.
Sparks led with five minutes left in the game.
The Railroaders forced a fumble on the opening drive of the game, which ended with a skirmish between the teams that was quelled almost immediately. One player from each team was ejected.
After that, the Railroaders were slowed down by a litany of penalties in the first half that included a 38-yard touchdown being called back. Penalties also took them out of more manageable yardage situations.
Sparks head coach Rob Kittrell believed that the penalties hampered the Railroaders the most in the game.
“(Wooster) did a good job slowing our run game down and we’re not a team that is built to play from behind,” Kittrell said.
Wooster coach Vince Johnson is a Sparks alumnus and had five brothers who went to Sparks High School. He has firm ties to the Railroaders where he first broke into coaching. The victory had some mixed emotions for the head coach.
“For me, I went to Sparks and I love Sparks so I have bittersweet feelings about it because I am close to coach Kittrell,” Johnson said.
However, Johnson explained that even though the game meant a lot to him, it was more than just about his homecoming.
“But at the end of the day this is about our boys and it has really nothing to do with me,” Johnson said. “It’s about seeing our kids work as hard as they did during the season and fighting through adversity to stick it out and finish with a win.”
With the playoffs starting next week both Sparks and Wooster ended their seasons at 3-7 and 4-6, respectively.
However, one player on the Wooster squad feels as though the Colts can make some noise next year.
“Our record doesn’t show what we are as a team, we’re very talented,” Doolin, a junior, said. “I think next year is going to be a different story, a good story.”