FAIRFIELD — The entire Waterville Senior High School football team was glad to have senior Anthony Singh back on the field Saturday against Nokomis. Most excited to have Singh, who has missed much of the season recovering from a concussion, was Trafton Gilbert, Singh’s running mate in the Purple Panther backfield.

“It’s nice. It take a load off a little. It’s fun,” Gilbert said.

Against Nokomis at Keyes Field Saturday afternoon, Singh was a difference maker, running for 159 yards on nine carries, including a 79-yard touchdown run. Defensively, Singh recovered a fumble, and helped Waterville take a 27-7 win.

Now 2-5, Waterville remained alive for a playoff spot in the Big 11 Conference. Nokomis is now 0-7.

“The kids played hard. We’ve been preaching the same thing all season, and having one of our most dangerous weapons back in Anthony Singh makes a huge difference. It’s nice to be at full strength,” Waterville coach Matt Gilley said.

Singh made an impression early, taking the ball 43 yards to the Warriors 17 yard line on the Panthers first offensive play. The run began a six play, 60 yard drive that ended with quarterback Liam VonOesen sneaking two yards into the end zone. Nate Weir’s kick made it 7-0, and Waterville got the ball back two plays later, when Singh recovered a Nokomis fumble near midfield. This time, Gilbert finished the drive, scoring on a one yard plunge for a 14-0 lead late in the first quarter.

“Just having (Singh) out there, it’s one more weapon to worry about. He’s a good player. He’s been a good player for four years,” Nokomis coach Jake Rogers said.

Waterville got a scare late in the third quarter, when Singh remained down after a play. It was just a calf cramp, Gilley said.

A Colby Garber interception set up Waterville’s third touchdown. Facing fourth down and 20 from the Warriors 22, VonOesen connected with Spencer Minihan for a touchdown pass and a 20-0 lead with 8:19 left in the first half. Nokomis answered late in the second quarter with its only score. An Aaron Mooers interception set the Warriors up at the Panther 25. four plays later, quarterback Grady Hartsgrove scored to cut Waterville’s lead to 20-7.

Waterville needed one play to push the lead back to 20 points. Singh took a toss from VonOesen, went to the left sideline, and broke a few tackles on his 79-yard touchdown run.

“I took the option fake, and I looked down and was like, ‘Man, he’s still going.’ It was exciting,” Gilbert said.

Neither teams scored in the second half. Waterville was unable to capitalize on an eight and a half minute drive, and Nokomis had the ball twice, once losing the ball on downs, and once turning it over for the fourth time, an interception by Tyson Smith.

“I feel like our defense was the key. We worked on our secondary all week. We finally got a pass rush,” Gilbert, who had a pair of sacks, said.

AJ Leali gained 54 yards on 12 carries for the young Warriors, who close the season next week against John Bapst.

“It’s finding stuff we can be positive with. We can match up a little better with (Waterville) than some teams we’ve been playing,” Rogers said. “I looked out there and at one point I had six freshmen on defense.”

 

Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242

[email protected]

Twitter: @TLazarczykMTM

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