AMBOY — Heading into the Week 4 home contest against Milford/Cissna Park, the No. 1-ranked 8-man football squad, Amboy-LaMoille-Ohio, knew it had its hands full.
Add the fact, Amboy was going into its third game in four weeks against the No. 2 team.
The Clippers (3-1) were not wrong that the challenge would be tough as they lost their first game of the season, 40-30.
“It’s a good thing to be tested like that. You play teams in your schedule and it makes you better throughout the year,” Clippers coach Scott Payne said. “It makes you better come playoff time. Milford is big and they have a couple really good athletes.
“It didn’t help that Tucker Lindenmeyer went down with a hamstring injury on the first possession of the game. He was out the rest of the game. Eddie Jones came in and played very good at quarterback for us.”
Lindenmeyer, the Clippers’ lone senior, scored the first touchdown of the game on a 3-yard run. Junior tight end Brennan Blaine collected a pass from sophomore Eddie Jones for the 2-point conversion.
Milford found the endzone on a passing touchdown in the first to cut the Clipper lead to 8-6 at the end of the first, a rushing TD in the second to take a 12-8 halftime advantage and scored the first score of the third frame for an 18-8 lead.
“It’s always the next-man-up mentality. Eddie came in and played well,” said Payne, who said Lindenmeyer is going to the doctor this week to see how many games he’ll miss, and Jones will be the starting QB until he returns. “He threw two touchdown passes to Brennan Blaine. He ran the offense pretty good for not getting as many reps as a starting quarterback does.”
The first Jones-Blaine connection came in the third quarter and junior Landon Whelchel ran in the two-point conversion to cut the Milford lead to 18-16.
The Bearcats scored two rushing touchdowns to expand their advantage to 34-16.
Jones found Blaine again at the end of the third quarter to tighten the score, 34-22.
Amboy scored first fourth quarter to cut the deficit to 34-30 on a 1-yard rushing score by Quinn Leffelman with eight minutes left in the game.
“We had an opportunity. It was 34-30 and we had them at fourth-and-10. Their coach made a great call and faked a punt,” Payne said. “The kid made a great catch despite our great coverage. That’s just what happens in the game. The playoff opportunity is still there, obviously, and its next man up.
“I told the team, ‘One man doesn’t make a team. It takes everyone playing together to win a football game.’ It’s not good to lose Tucker, a returning all-state player, but now everyone else has to step up and play at a different level.
“We could still very well finish the season at 8-1 and get a two, three, or four seed – depending on what other teams do ¬– get in the playoffs and make a run at it. We still have a lot of good players on our team that can step up and take the pressure off of Eddie at quarterback. We still feel confident with everything we’re doing.”
Next up for Amboy-LaMoille-Ohio is Orangeville, who is 0-4 and at the bottom of the North 2 8-man football conference.