TOLEDO — A good football coach knows the right time to take suggestions from their players. On Friday night, Sept. 24, during the Toledo High School’s 2A-SD 3 showdown with third-ranked and undefeated Monroe at Jack Dahl Stadium, Boomers coach Jeff Taylor wisely chose when to take a little advice from junior quarterback Gunner Rothenberger.
With previously winless Toledo clinging to a 36-30 lead and less than two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, the Boomers faced a second-and-13 from the Dragons’ 41-yard line. That’s when Rothenberger told his coach Toledo needed to get the ball in the hands of sophomore wide receiver Sterling Buckley, who to that point touched the ball just twice all game.
Taylor agreed, and Buckley responded by ripping off a 41-yard scamper around the left side for a touchdown that all but sealed Toledo’s 44-36 upset of the Dragons before an appreciative Boomer Nation.
“Honestly, that was my quarterback’s call,” Taylor admitted about Buckley’s scoring play after the Boomers got off the schneid and improved to 1-1 in league games, 1-3 overall. “He came over and said, ‘Hey, what about this,’ and I said ‘absolutely.’ So, he made the call, I ran with it and it was a heck of a call.”
However, the Dragons weren’t done just yet. Trailing 44-30, they needed just 32 seconds to pull within one score a touchdown on a 12-yard reception by junior tight end Luke Crowson off a tipped pass.
The ensuing pass on the point-after attempt failed, and the Boomers recovered Monroe’s onside kick attempt, leaving all that stood in the way of the Boomers and their first victory was a successful Rothenberger kneel-down that ran out the clock.
“It’s great. It’s exactly what we’re shooting for every Friday night,” Taylor said. “It was awesome to watch this team — we’ve been talking about how we’re young — but we just keep fighting and growing and getting better. This is the reason that we’re doing it.”
Rothenberger finished with 124 yards rushing and two running touchdowns, including a 40-yard scoring dash with 9:05 to play in the fourth quarter to give Toledo a 32-22 lead.
Boomer sophomore lineman Ash Blomstrom recovered a Brody Ballard fumble near midfield on the next play from scrimmage, and Toledo converted 2:30 later, when sophomore running back Tyee Garcia took a short pass from Rothenberger and followed a host of blockers into the end zone for a 44-yard scoring reception.
After Toledo forced the Dragons to punt on their next possession, Buckley scored his second touchdown of the evening on Rothenberger’s play call, whipping the always vocal Boomer faithful into a frenzy.
Ballard, a senior running back, led the way for Monroe (1-1 in league, 3-1 overall). He ran for 235 yards and had touchdown runs of 62 and 47 yards. He threw for another pair of scores, including a 44-yard scoring strike to sophomore running back Nate Young.
Buckley added a 15-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter, and Toledo junior running back Rayden Taylor began the evening’s scoring with a 15-yard TD run.
Minutes after the final whistle sounded, and after passing through the postgame handshake line, sharing a brief conversation with the Monroe coaching staff, Taylor rushed into the arms of his team, which waited patiently for their coach to arrive. That set off a celebration that nearly knocked Taylor to the synthetic turf.
But if Taylor suffered some bumps and bruises while celebrating with his players, nobody would know it from the sparkle in his eyes after the Boomers broke into the win column.
“It’s a validation of all the hard work these guys put in Sunday through Friday,” Taylor said. “Six days a week, we’re working our butts off, and it paid off for us tonight. The guys really earned this win”
Monroe 0 14 8 14 — 36
Toledo 8 8 6 22 — 44
T — Rayden Taylor 15 run (Gunner Rothenberger run), 3:40
M — Brody Ballard 62 run (run failed), 8:58
T — Rothenberger 3 run (Tyee Garcia run), 0:49
M — Nate Young 44 pass from Ballard (Quinton Winsted pass from Ballard), 0:23
M — Ballard 47 run (Ballard run), 10:24
T — Sterling Buckley 15 pass from Rothenberger (run failed), 0:58
M — Trent Bateman 17 pass from Ballard (Bateman pass from Ballard), 10:27
T — Rothenberger 40 run (Garcia run), 9:05
T — Garcia 44 pass from Rothenberger (run failed), 6:38
T — Buckley 41 run (Garcia run), 1:30
M — Luke Crowson 12 pass from Wellette (pass failed), 0:49