HOUSE — Autumn Friday nights haven’t been that big of a deal in towns such as Grady and Elida in the past. At least, anyway, not as much as communities which have football ingrained in their past.
On Friday, though, boys from those towns celebrated their new tradition by staging a six-man contest.
Final score: House 39, Elida 32.
The House football squad is made up of players from the town of House, which was a somewhat sporadic history of competing in football, in combination with athletes from Grady — a school that is trying football for the first time.
It’s also the first year on the gridiron for Elida, which was the visitor in Friday’s contest.
Since only one player on the House team actually played last year for the Cowboys, not to mention the inexperienced Grady players, the field was rife with football neophytes.
But both teams have been competitive this season and were certainly so with each other as House (3-1) rebounded from a 32-24 deficit to pull ahead for good in the fourth quarter.
“We’ve started a program from the ground up and our boys have a lot of heart,” Elida coach Ralph Gawehn said. “We’re just lacking a little bit of experience. I think in this particular game, we just kind of let our guard down a little bit.
“We made a few mistakes and they came back on us.”
A 64-yard kickoff return by Elida’s Levi Massey late in the third period gave the Tigers an eight-point advantage. Three plays from scrimmage later, an interception by Elida’s Cade Cathey put his team back into House territory.
Things can change quickly in six-man football, however. A minute later, House junior Bobby Lee picked off a Tigers’ pass and weaved his way 63 yards for a touchdown.
Elida (2-3), now up only 32-31, fumbled a snap on offense which resulted in a safety — and a House 33-32 lead.
The House/Grady conglomeration extended the advantage when quarterback Tanner Allen found Dustin Provencio — a combination from Grady — for a 13-yard TD pass with 4:24 remaining on the clock. It was Provencio’s first catch of the game.
“I had to keep it away from him in the first half, to set him up in the second,” Allen said.
Elida’s last-gasp was a play as time ran out — a pass that was picked off by Lee at midfield.
“I’ve got guys that have talent, but mainly they have heart and the ability to think,” said Oran Watson, who is the head coach for the House/Grady cooperative venture. “And it’s a beautiful thing to watch.”