Winner really likes to run the ball. Then they run again. And again.
In the Class 11B semifinal game Nov. 5, the Warriors literally ran over the Huskies, taking a 22-6 lead at halftime and extending it to 52-14 to win the game.
At the same time Winner’s offensive line was opening holes for their backs, the Warrior defense was frustrating the Husky runners by closing the gaps before they hardly opened.
EPJ did get 1 score in the first half, on a run by Noah McDermott. Otherwise, they had only 29 yards on the ground and 38 in the air.
“Our guys went into this game with their eyes wide open,” head coach Jake Terry said. “They knew what to expect.”
Kudos to the Huskies for not giving up. Winner got the ball to start the second half and took up right where they left off, with a 25-yard run. The next plays showed the EPJ grit, as they shut down the Warrior runners on 3 consecutive plays, forcing a punt to the EPJ 10. The Huskies worked hard to get out from under the shadows of their own goalposts, but a fumble in the end zone, recovered by EPJ, gave Winner a safety.
When the Huskies got the ball back after a Winner touchdown, they started moving the ball on a series of nice runs. That set up a pass from McDermott to Garret Merkley, who ran 34 yards into the end zone. Alex Scarmon caught McDermott’s pass for the 2-point conversion with 5 minutes left in the 3rd quarter.
The Warriors spent the rest of the game making runs of 5, 6, 7 yards that ate up the clock and kept them in the lead.
After the game, coach Terry had nothing but good things to say about his team, especially the upper classmen.
“Those juniors and seniors, they really put in the work, guiding the younger players,” Terry said. “I also want to thank the assistant coaches. They did a phenominal job. Our goal as coaches is to help kids reach their full potential and I really think we did that this year, especially as young as we were.”
This game was the first semifinal match for EPJ since 2006. They end the season 8-3.
“We were always hoping we’d have a chance to play for this [a trip to the Dome], but we maybe never thought we’d actually do it,” Terry said.
After this season, that thinking could change.