By Matt Browning
For the first time in 20 years, the Little River football team advanced to the state championship game, this time in Eight-Man Division I.
The Redskins certainly made the most of it, defeating Wichita County 70-58, in the highest scoring eight-man title game in history. The last time Little River won a state championship was 1999.
“This is a team of overcomers,” Little River coach Kevin Ayers said. “When they were called on to rise up, both on and off the field, they did. This season brought challenges that went far beyond football. Our boys, our school, and our community have poured so much into this team, and the joy that overflowed when the last seconds ticked off the clock is a feeling we will never forget.”
Senior quarterback Jayden Garrison finished with 359 total yards and six touchdowns (four passing, one rushing, one receiving), while senior running back Graham Stephens finished with 258 yards and five touchdowns.
The duo had combined for nearly 3,000 yards this season.
Little River never trailed in the contest and the closest Wichita County ever got was 28-22 after the first quarter and the Redskins led 54-30 at half.
“We thought it would be an offensive battle but maybe not quite to the degree it was,” Ayers said. “Our kids executed extremely well. We didn’t throw it a lot, but when we did our kids made plays. To go 9 for 9 and have those plays come at such big moments in the game was incredible.”
In the Eight-Man Division II championship Hanover scored 30 second quarter points on its way to a 46-24 victory over St. Francis.
It was the Wildcats fourth championship in the past five seasons.