Control what you can control.
That was the message from Cedar Creek head coach Matt Middleton to his team heading into Friday night’s regular season finale.
The Cougars responded.
Caden Middleton tossed four touchdown passes to set the school single season record and ran for another score and the Cougars defense registered another shutout to lead Creek (6-3) to a 49-0 win over Tensas on Senior Night.
With the shutout, the 2021 Cougars defense set the program record for the fewest points allowed per game. In nine games, Creek allowed just 96 points or 10.7 points per contest, surpassing the previous record of 11.7 per game.
“They have been the heartbeat of our team all year,” said Middleton. “They have given us the chance to get better offensively. I think we are better now. I hope we are playing next week and the week after that. Anything can happen.”
Seniors Carson Riley, Seth Smith and Jed Worthey all played in their last regular season game.
“I love them,” said Middleton. “They had a phenomenal year. To only have three (seniors) that’s totally unheard of. I don’t know if I’ve ever heard of a team only have three seniors. They have been special this year.”
Now the Cougars must wait for the updated power rankings to see if they will earn one of 16 spots in the Division IV playoffs.
“If we get in, we will play the Green Bay Packers,” said Middleton. “We don’t care who we play. We just want to get in and get an opportunity to play. I won’t sleep tonight. I am a vampire anyway. I will wait it out and see what happens.”
Creek scored early and often against Tensas.
Caden Middleton found Bryce Rushing for an 11-yard TD pass just 60 seconds into the game for his first TD of the night. One the next possession, Middleton hit Lane Thomas for a 6-yard scoring strike for his school record 19th TD pass of the season, surpassing the previous record of 18 set by Andy Smith in 2007.
Middleton was 17-of-22 for 159 yards and four scores in the game with one interception.
“He had a good night,” said Matt Middleton. “I would like to have that nasty one he threw the interception on in the back of the endzone. But otherwise, he had a good night.”
A 5-yard TD pass to Worthey gave the Cougars a 21-0 lead at the end of the first quarter. Worthey added a 24-yard TD run early in the second quarter before Lane Thomas caught his second TD of the game from 20 yards out.
Middleton added a 23-yard TD run to give the Cougars a 42-0 lead at halftime. Davis Long was 7-for-7 in extra points on the night.
With a running clock in the second half, the only TD scored came on a 1-yard run by Seth Smith, igniting a celebration on the Creek sideline.
“It was a fun night,” said Middleton. “Great for the kids. A lot of kids got to play. Happy for our three seniors. Got Seth Smith into the end zone. It was just a fun night.”
Cedar Creek recorded 348 total yards of offense while holding Tensas to negative 59 yards in the game.
Middleton said that although the official playoff pairings aren’t announced until Sunday, he felt like they would know by around noon on Saturday if the Cougars had qualified.
“We could be as high as 15,” said Middleton. “A lot of things could happen. It’s a mess. Not to be a cry baby. If we had one another one, we wouldn’t be having this discussion. But whether we are the No. 1 seed or the 16 seed, something needs to be done about it. There are going to be two really good teams that get left out of the (Division IV) playoffs. I just hope we aren’t one of them.”
Photo: Tim Smith (geauxdesignsart.com)
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