The Shelbyville Rams (4-5) were on the bubble all season just 6 points away from being eligible. The Rams came with 6 points of upsetting Tuscola in Tuscola and that was as close as they would get, as their bubble burst in the finale against St. Teresa.

Coach Bill Duckett saw his first group of players that started with him as freshman finish their four years. he was moved by that.

“You fought hard, not only early on, but through the whole game,” Duckett said. “You finished the year playing hard.”

Duckett had outstanding skilled players his first two years when the Rams had back-to-back Final Four appearances. When they graduated, the Rams continued to fight hard the next two years, despite missing the playoffs.

Assistant Coach Brad Hilbert acknowledged Kentrell Beck, Rope Hatfield, and Max Beyers for their accomplishments and added some names that people need to remember.

“Josh Agin had a great season and proved that he is an amazingly versatile athlete,” Coach Hilbert said. “Ethan Clark had another solid year on the offensive line as a sophomore and 2-year starter. He finished the year with a strong showing on the defensive side as a linebacker.”

Hilbert saved his highest praise for senior Grant Mose.

“”What could I say about this man,” Hilbert said. ‘I was lucky enough to spend a few hours a day for months at a time with him for the last 4 years. He was the leader of the team and knows this game like few others I have ever coached. Our staff has discussed the idea that we believe Grant has played in more varsity football games than anyone else in Shelbyville history. His ability, attitude, skill, intelligence, and leadership will be missed.”

The bubble began with their first opponent, Pawnee, dropping out to play 8-man football. That left the Rams to find someone to re-schedule. It became a playoff team, Seneca (5-5). The Rams had a long drive and, once there, Seneca had several long drives against the nascent Ram defense, winning 38-15.

That loss put the Rams firmly on the bubble. They needed 5 win for the playoffs. They face three ranked losses down the stretch against Central A&M, Tuscola, and St. Teresa, barring an upset. They would have to win every other game.

The Rams bounced back in their home opener against non-conference Cerro Gordo in week 2, 48-19. They led, 48-6, at the half.

Ram, QB Kentrell Beck was able to get into space and run past the Broncos. He had 7 carries for 227 yards and 5 TDs. He only passed 4 times. He didn’t need to. Kicker Seppe Vitale made 6-of-7 extra-points.

It was the Rams misfortune to play Clinton early in the season. Clinton was improved, but after beating the Rams they barely got past Meridian, then had 3 straight losses, to the big 3 (Tuscola, Central A&M and St T).

Clinton was still hot against the Rams and played much quicker in almost every phase of the game. They won, 48-14. They had over 500 yards of offense.

Meanwhile, Beck had no blocking to get out in space. He ran for just 37 yards. He had to pass and threw for 137 yards and a TD, but 2 interceptions. Josh Agin had the other TD, rushing.

The Rams were on the bubble big time. They were 1-2, needing 4 more wins with 3 pending losses standing in their way. All the Rams could do is win the games they could and hope for an upset.

They beat Sullivan-Okaw Valley, but left the barn door open for some late Redskin scores to make the game look closer than it was., 56-40.

Big plays were the dynamic of this game. Beck caught a pass from Max Beyers and ran 97-yards on the first play from scrimmage. Beck threw a 63-yard pass to Rope Hatfield for another score. Beck then ran 47 yards for a TD.

Shelby was up 21-0 in the 1st, but then let SOV score on an 89 yard kick return and a 59 yard pass play, 21-14. Beck scored on an 87-yard run play. The first six scores of the game were nearly 50 yard plays or better. Shelby had two short TD plays and led at the half, 42-13.

Both teams had a TD in the 3rd. In the 4th, SOV scored again on a 56 yard pass and then a short run. Hatfield answered with a 56-yard run, to secure the win.

Shelby was 2-2 and facing a fairly equal match-up on Homecoming against Warrensburg. Shelby led 7-6 after the 1st and at the half. Warrensburg tied in the 3rd, 13-13.

Hatfield ran 10 yards for the go-ahead TD. Warrensburg answered and with 5:00 remaining it was tied, 20-20. A good kick return to midfield by Hatfield set up the go-ahead score. Agin ran to the 25 yard line. Beck threw to Hatfield and he stretched the ball out for a 24-yard TD at the pylon. It was ruled out of bounds.

Beck ran the ball in for the 26-20 lead. The Rams went for 2 rather than chance a tie or a 1-point loss should Warrensburg answer in the last 2:00. Beck outran the Cardinal team to the pylon for 2 points.

Sure enough Warrensburg tried to come back with a kick return to midfield. Some Ram caused a fumble and the Rams recovered. They were still in the hunt and went to 3-2. Beck ran for 90 yards and all 3 TDs. He threw for 178 yards.

Shelbyville then lost to the #1 ranked Class A A&M Raiders, 48-13. The Rams played the best defense against A&M that the raiders faced this season. They made A&M punt and drew first blood, 6-0. But A&m then scored the next 48 points before the half. Hatfield scored in the 3rd and Shelby was back to 3-3.

Beck only ran for 7 yards and was the leading Ram rusher. He threw for 163 yards and a TD.

Shelby faced a struggling Meridian team and Shelby defense stepped up to keep it that way. After two non-conference blowouts, the only team Meridian could beat was SOV. Shelby beat Meridian, 37-21.

The Ram defense had 9 tackles for loss (2 sacks), accumulating 60 negative yards. They scored a 2-point safety. Max Beyers and Hatfield, each, picked off a pass.

Shelby scored firs and led 7-6. They scored the next six times through the 3rd quarter. Beck ran for 3 scores, including a 87-yard run, and threw for one. Seppe Vitale then kicked a 34-yard field goal and Grant Mose tackled the Hawks in the end zone for a safety, 37-7.

With the game out of reach, Meridian got a score on a drive and then a 55 yard pass play. Shelby was now 4-3 with two games remaining and still on he bubble.

In a must win on the road against Tuscola. Tuscola won in a shootout, 54-48.

Both teams combined to score 15 touchdowns and score a total of 102 points. Both teams scored three TDs in the first quarter (42 pts), 21-21. In the 2nd quarter, Tuscola scored 3 times and Shelby zero, with special circumstances. Both teams scored twice in the 3rd period. Shelby scored twice in the 4th and came up 6 points short. Tuscola scored 8 times and Shelbyville 7.

The special circumstances in the 2nd period was the difference in the game for Tuscola. With the score tied, 21-21, Tuscola scored twice in the 2nd and Shelby missed a chance, 35-21.

Shelby went in for a TD to be down one score. An official called a holding penalty and took away the touchdown. The Rams subsequently took the ball in anyway. But on that TD, the officials said that the ball was fumbled in the end zone. Instead of awarding a TD, another touchdown was taken away on the same possession right before half.

Tuscola got the ball at the 20 with almost no time on the clock before the half. A missed assignment in the Ram secondary allowed an 80-yard TD at the half. Instead of being down one TD at the half, Shelby was stripped of two TDs, was down by three scores, 42-21.

They came back. They scored 3 unanswered TD late in the 3rd and the 4th, including an onside kick recovery and an offensive fumble recovery and TD run by Brayden Lynch. A personal foul call on the TD made Shelby kick-off from their 25 and gave Tuscola another advantage to end the game.

Beck ran for 199 yards and 3 TDs. Beck threw 28 of 35 for 357 yds and 2 TDs. Hatfield caught 10 passes for 157 yards and 2 TDs. Hatfield ran for 41 yards and a TD. Vitale made 6-of-7 extra-point tries.

Shelby’s last shot was at home against St. Teresa, ranked 7th in 2A and playing in the quarterfinals this weekend. Shelby had to win.

They were tied 7-7 in the 1st, but St. T scored the next 5 times. Beck had a TD pass to Colten Reed in the 3rd, but St. T scored three more times. St. T led 61-14 in the 4th. Shelby scored twice late, including a Beck 64-yard run. They finished strong, but the bubble burst.

The Rams leading rusher was the fleet quarterback Kentrell Beck. He rushed for 881 yards on 104 carries (8.5 yd avg) with 18 TDs. Running back Rope Hatfield covered 450 yards on 84 carries (5.4 yd avg) with 5 TDs. Josh Agin ran for 214 on 26 carries (8.2 ydavg).

Beck threw more as the year went on and became an effective passer. He completed 95 of 175 passes (54%) for 1469 yards (8.4 yd avg) and 12 TD, with 8 interceptions.

Hatfield was the leading receiver with 41 catches for 576 yards (14.1 yd avg) with 3 TDs. Three receivers had over 200 yards. Colten Reed had 20 catches for 242 yards (24.2 yd avg) and 3 TDs. Colten Miller had 12 catches 219 yards (18.2 yd avg) for 2 TDs. Max Beyers had 17 catches for 212 yards (12.4 yd avg).

The leading tackler was Josh Agin with 78 tackles and 66 were solo with 4 tackles for loss (-22 yds). Hatfield followed with 55 tackles with 37 solo. Max Beyers had 48 tackles with 30 solo. Seth Robertson made 41 tackles with 30 solo, plus 2 for loss (-12).

Karson Johnston (5-9, 140) was little, but quick and racked up the most tackles for loss. He had 37 tackles, 22 solo with 8 for losses, totaling 51 negative yards.

Grant Mose (6-0, 285) was big and strong. He racked up 37 tackles with 24 solo and 4 for losses totaling 24 negative yards. Bryce Matthews (37 tackles, 22 solo) had 11 tackles for loss for -41 yards.

The Ram kicker, Seppe Vitale (5-8, 155), played an important role this year. He kicked 31 extra-points and one 34-yard field goal.

2019 Ram Stats (4-5, 3-4 CIC)

Points for 280, Points against 356

OFFENSE- 3227 yds, 39 TDs; RUSHING-240 for 1587 yds, 26 TDs; Beck 104 for 881 yds, 18 TDs, 1 2-pt; Hatfield 84 for 450 yds, 5 TDs, 1 2-pt; Agin 26 for 214 yds, 3 TDs; Winings 15 for 44 yds; Beyers 11 for -2 yds; PASSING-112 for 196, 1641 yds, 13 TDs; Beck 96 of 175, 1469 yds, 12 TDs, 8 INTs; Beyers 17 of 21, 172 yds, TD; RECEIVING-Hatfield 41 for 576 yds, 3 TDs; Reed 20 for 242 yds, 3 TDs; Miller 12 for 219 yds, 2 TDs; Beyers 17 for 212 yds, 2 TDs; Beck 2 for 90 yds, TD; Winings 6 for 49 yds; Johnson 3 for 33 yds; Stokes 5 for 27 yds, TD; Agin 1 for 14 yds; McDonald 1 for 11 yds; TACKLES-Agin 78 (66 solo, 12 assist), 4 for loss (-22), Hatfield 55 (37/18), 1 for loss (-2); Beyers 48 (30/18), 1 for loss (-2); S Robertson 41 (30/11) 2 for loss (-12); Johnson 37 (22/15), 8 for loss (-51); Mose 37 (24/13), 1 sack, 4 for loss (-24); Bra Smith 32 (24/8), 4 for loss (-14); Matthews 31 (25/6), 2 sacks, 11 for loss (-41); Bro Smith 31 (17/14) 3 for loss (-20); Reed 27 (17/10); Stokes 25 (22/3); Winings 21 (10/11) 4 for loss (-8); Lynch 15 (11/4), 1 for loss (-5); Clark 13 (9/4), 1 sack, 1 for loss (-9); Beck 7 (6/1); McDonald 4 (3/1) 1 for loss (-5); C Robertson 3 (1/2) 1 for loss (-6); Lape 1; Ward 1 (0/1); Nohren 1 (0/1); Rice 1 (1/0); FUMBLE RETURN-Agin 1, Clark 1. Johnson 1, Lynch 1, Matthews 1, Winings; INTs-Beyers 1, Stokes 1, Hatfield 1; FG- Vitale 1 (34 yd); XTR-PT-Vitale 31

John Curtis can be reached at

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