By Travis Whitton
For The Herald Bulletin
ALEXANDRIA, Ind. — Frankton warmed up the cold late-October night in the first quarter Friday, but the Eagles crashed back to reality in the final three periods, dropping a 61-34 decision to Alexandria and ending their season and coach Otis Cress’ career.
The Eagles (1-9) took the opening possession of the game 16 plays for 73 yards, concluding with a Brayden Ginder 1-yard touchdown run to take a 7-0 lead.
Alexandria (7-3) took just 34 seconds to go 52 yards in two plays before Jonah Jerrils snagged a 16-yard touchdown strike from Blaize Kelly, but Bryan Carter missed the extra point and the first quarter ended with the Eagles holding a 7-6 lead.
The two teams combined for 56 points in the second quarter, unfortunately for Frankton, the Tigers scored 42 of those points.
After the game, Cress said the emotions of coaching his last game hadn’t quite sunk in and probably won’t for a while.
“Oh, it’s mixed,” said Cress. “I coached a lot of years. It probably hasn’t sunk in yet (until) next Friday or next year. Like I said, it hasn’t sunk in. It hurts to lose. I told the seniors I’m in the same boat they are tonight. Always before I had another game, and this year it’s one and done. It hasn’t sunk it, it really hasn’t.”
It’s Cress’ hope assistant coach Cody Thompson will take over the program, and his message to Thompson was to not let this year discourage him. Cress said the Eagles had but one win the year prior to him taking over the helm.
The Frankton coach would like to stay involved with the football program in some capacity, but he joked it depends on who takes.
“I would like to help out and see what I can do,” Cress said, “but I guess it depends on who the head coach is.”
Regarding the game, Cress said his kids are brittle and couldn’t overcome the miscues.
“Our kids are really fragile, a turnover and a quick score and we kind of drop our heads,” he said. “They’ve been like that all year. If everything keeps going right, then we’re pretty good.”
On the other sideline, Tigers coach Pete Gast spoke glowingly of the fact this is the first time since 2002 the Tigers have won a sectional game and the first seven-win season since 1998.
Alexandria wide receiver Drew Johnson also broke the school record with his 112th career reception on the final drive of the first half. He finished with 134 yards and two touchdowns.
“Drew is a good kid, a skilled kid,” said Gast. “He loves football, and he loves this football team, and I thought that was important to get that for him. All his hard work has really paid off to a good senior year.”
Gast said he also wished Cress well in his last game of his career.
“Before the game, we wished him well, win or lose, whoever moved on, and I just thanked him for five competitive years of getting to coach against him,” Gast said. “I really respect what he’s done over there.”