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Owls fall short in playoffs

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ATHENS - The Anderson-Shiro Owl senior class had visions of becoming the school’s first football team to win a Bi-District championship, but despite leaving it all on the field, the Owls fell short 34-26 to the Hughes Springs Mustangs.

Anderson-Shiro (6-5) battled from behind but were unable to erase a 22-6 halftime deficit. The Owls pulled to within two, 22-20. Rance Imhoff had a touchdown run, followed by a Ca’Darrius Williams interception. Owl quarterback Cole Werner called his own number and ran it in for the score. The conversion was good.

Hughes Springs (6-3) answered back with a pair of touchdown runs from Trevor Bolden in the fourth quarter to give the Mustangs a 24-20 lead.

The Owls narrowed the gap with 2 minutes, 42 seconds remaining on a connection from Werner to Williams. Werner passed for 155 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 149 yards and a touchdown. Williams caught two passes for 63 yards and a touchdown.

Anderson-Shiro Head Coach Brad Hodges spoke on Werner’s performance, “I wasn’t the least bit surprised by Cole’s performance. He’s a gamer and when the lights are the brightest it’s like his game finds another level. He’s a tremendous competitor and I was happy for him to cap off his great career by playing his best game.” Werner has been a four-year starter for Hodges and the Owls.

“I was extremely proud of the grit the boys showed,” explained Hodges. It’s the same fight they have shown all year and really for four years. We got down in an early hole and faced some difficult injuries. They rallied around each other and fought back and gave us a chance to win the ballgame at the end.”

Hodges said he is proud of his seniors but his heart hurts for them. “It really hurts not to get this one for the senior class and it will for a while, but they can certainly hold their heads up high with the effort they gave. They took this program from its darkest days and turned it into what it is now. They finished with more wins than any class and Anderson-Shiro’s highest ever district finish which is something to definitely be proud of. That is a testament to those young men and they will always be really special to me for where we started, what we went through and what we achieved together.”

Hughes Springs will face the West Rusk Raiders Thursday, Nov. 19, at Murphy Stadium in Gladewater with kickoff slated for 7 p.m.