Ball control offenses, in addition to excellent defenses, can go a long way in the game of high school football.
Throughout the course of the 2017 season, that has proven to be the case for the West Senators, and on Friday, the No. 9-ranked team in the Ohio AP Division V Football Poll strutted its stuff once again as West pounded Wellston, 31-6, in a road affair that was held on Friday evening in Wellston.
From the outset, West never had any trouble obtaining momentum against the Golden Rockets as the Senators, after obtaining a defensive stop, went on a six-play, 59-yard drive that was capped off by a 17-yard scamper from Garrett Hurd with 6:15 to play in the opening quarter of action.
For the next 12 minutes, the Senators used its stingy defensive unit to take over matters as Brandon Weaver, Jakeb Guilkey, Cole Gilley, Cole Staggs, and Hunter Reed combined to collect 6.5 sacks over the course of the contest in making life miserable for the Wellston offense. Weaver and Guilkey led the charge with 10 and eight tackles respectively — with the pair combining for four tackles for loss on the evening — while Josh Berry and Cole Gilley combined to collect a dozen tackles, with Berry adding a tackle for loss on his own.
With exactly five minutes remaining until halftime, the Senators got back on the scoreboard as Drew Cassidy — who collected five tackles and a pick in his own right on the defensive side of the football — showed off his leg by collecting a 20-yard field goal. Hurd, who ran for a team-best 115 yards on 18 carries, added his second and final touchdown of the evening, a 10-yarder, to put West up by a 17-0 tally with 1:31 remaining in the half. That margin ultimately held up to the halftime break.
In the third quarter, the Senators didn’t play around as Gabe Skaggs capped off a 10-play, 65-yard drive by plowing his way into the end zone on a one-yard dive with 3:30 to play in the third quarter.
Then Weaver — a 6-1, 204-pound defensive tackle — plowed his way through to block a punt, which the senior recovered for a two-yard blocked punt return touchdown with 1:34 to play in the third quarter as the Senators started the running clock. Wellston obtained a nine-yard touchdown from Zack Draff with 2:05 left in the contest to put the Golden Rockets on the board.
For the contest, the Senators proved to be absolutely electric on defense, with West holding Wellston to just 158 total yards of offense on 40 plays (an average of less than four yards per play). To make the defensive effort even more impressive, 56 of those 158 total yards were gathered in on one single run, with Weaver and Reed adding in their blocked punts to boot in capping off another complete performance from the Senators’ defensive unit.
In addition to Hurd’s 115 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries, Josh Berry, who collected 86 all-purpose yards on 11 touches, and Dylan Bradford, who added 66 yards on an efficient 7-of-8 through the air, were critical efforts in the outcome for West.
For the season, Hurd leads the unit in rushing with 439 yards on 77 carries (5.7 average) and has collected five touchdowns so far, while Berry sits just behind Hurd with 391 all-purpose yards in 2017. As for Bradford, the junior quarterback now sits at 383 yards passing in 2017 and has completed an impressive 34 of his 49 passes for a 69 percent completion rate.
Defensively, Berry leads the Senators’ defense with 38 stops, while Guilkey, Weaver, and Skaggs hold 35, 34, and 33 tackles to their credit, respectively. In addition to their overall tackle marks, Weaver and Guilkey have combined to collect an impressive 13 tackles for loss in 2017.
With the win, West will now turn its attention to a road bout against the Raceland (Ky.) Rams, who collected a 47-6 victory at Valley on Friday to move to 4-1 overall in 2017. Raceland has only given up a touchdown over its last 14 quarters of play, while West has surrended just two scores over its previous 10 quarters of action.
Reach Kevin Colley at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930 OR on Twitter @ColleyKevin7