Meigs Wildcats knock Destin out of playoffs

Tina Harbuck

After getting on the scoreboard first, the Destin Marlins fell short 37-18 to the Meigs Wildcats in the first round of playoffs in Okaloosa County middle school football Thursday night in Destin.

“We played tough, we played tough for a while. Just a couple of big plays got away from us,” said Destin Coach Mark Hinterthan as he walked off the field. “The kids played with heart. They played with grit and they played for four quarters. I’m proud of them. My guys did good.”

Destin got on the board first late in the first quarter. Parker Hill rushed for 11 yards, and then Max Moran connected with Jackson Crews on a catch-and-run for a 60-yard touchdown strike. The point after attempt was blocked but Destin was on the board 6-0.

Meigs didn’t waste any time answering. On the second play from scrimmage, Blake Garland connected with Jacob Schallhorn, who made the catch then raced up the middle of the field for a 67-yard touchdown. Zander Noble was good for the point after and a 7-6 lead with less than a minute to go in the first period.

About three minutes into the second quarter, Meigs scored again. Garland hit Nick Ruiz on a route taking it down to the 1-yard line for a gain of 49 yards. On the next play, Garland hit a wide-open Issac Hunter on the right side for a 1-yard score. The two-point attempt failed, but Meigs led 13-6.

On Destin’s next possession, the Marlins fumbled it away on the first play with Meigs Ruiz getting the ball.

Four plays later, the Wildcats were in the end zone again. This time Garland hit Owen Burks for a gain of 20 yard and then went to him again for a 31-yard TD strike. The Wildcats picked up the two-point conversion on a pass from Garland to Noble and a 21-6 advantage with four minutes to go in the first half.

At that point Destin mounted a nine-play drive for the score. Hill was the workhorse on the drive carrying the ball seven times and eventually taking it in on a 1-yard run around the left end. The Marlins tried for two points but failed for a 21-12 game at the break.

To start the third quarter, Meigs got the ball first and scored quickly. On the second play from scrimmage, Garland went around the left end then made his way back to the middle of the field where he took it all the way for a 69-yard touchdown run. The PAT was no good and Meigs led 27-12.

In the fourth quarter, the Marlins closed it down with Moran connecting with Jaden Carlisle in the right corner of the end zone for a 6-yard catch and score. The two-point try failed for a 27-18 game with 5:57 left on the clock.

But right after Destin scored, the Wildcats came back with a TD of their own. On third down, Garland, who was almost caught in the backfield, scrambled and connected with Hunter who then took it 55 yards for the score. Noble kicked in the point after for a 34-18 lead.

Meigs scored one last time on a 27-yard field goal by Noble.

For the game, Meigs had 385 yards total offense, while Destin had 290.

Meigs’ Garland completed 16 of 34 passes for 316 yards and four TDs. Destin’s Moran was eight of 18 for 169 yards and two touchdowns.

On the ground, Hill led Destin with 80 yards in 21 carries, including a TD. Meigs was led by Garland on the ground with 80 yards in 10 carries, including a touchdown.