West Holmes scored about every way imaginable in the 55-12 rout, whether it was Garrett Mackey pounding one in from in close, Layne Perone breaking tackles left and right on a 37-yard dash to pay dirt, Gabe Snyder finding Brady Arnold on a 66 yard scoring strike over the top or Brock Macauley mad-rushing the quarterback, forcing a fumble and having Keaton Leppla pick it up and return it for six.
Maybe the most tired guys on the night were the ball boys who were racing after kicker Logan Gallion’s extra points.
From the beginning of the game, West Holmes imposed its will on the Black Bears, doing whatever they wanted to do through the air or via the ground attack, which again proved to be incredibly deep and ferocious.
After the Knights defense held on the Bears’ first drive, West Holmes drove a short field and Mackey plunged in from six yards out for a 7-0 lead.
The Knights held on to River View’s second possession, and took a 14-0 lead when Perone scored the first of his four TDs on a 37-yard romp around the left side.
River View showed some moxie on their first play from scrimmage following the score, when Josh Knight was off to the races after grabbing a short pass. He galloped 73 yards for a score, and even though River View missed the extra point, it looked like it might be game on.
On the Knights next possession, Snyder found Arnold on a beautiful 66 yard scoring strike that was wiped away on a holding call, and then he just missed a wide open Grant Hay on what would have been another score. That proved to be the only time in the first half River View was able to stop the Knights offense.
After a Knights punt, Derek Rose jumped on a fumble on a hit by Mitch Sheely, and West Holmes made the Bears pay.
A series of short but effective runs traversed the 27 yards to the end zone, with Mackey scoring from four yards out to make it 21-6.
The next series Macauley found himself all over the quarterback, forcing a fumble that led to another Knights touchdown by Perone and a 28-6 lead.
Another forced fumble and it was Perone’s turn again, this time dancing his way down the left side, eluding several would-be tacklers for a 37 yard score.
Snyder hit Arnold on a 66-yarder that held up this time around, and by the time Macauley recorded his second sack and forced his second fumble, Leppla was gobbling up the leftovers and running it in for a score.
“Our coaches set us up in the right position all night,” said Macauley on his team’s ability to live in the Black Bear backfield. “We knew they were running plays similar to what we run, and I just hit the gaps hard. The entire line did a great job of doing that, and that made it easy to get into the backfield.”
The way the scoring was coming at the Black Bears like an oncoming tsunami, it was almost a surprise when Barry Phillips only returned his interception to end the half 44 yards instead of going to the house.
After Perone scored his fourth TD of the evening, head coach Kevin Maltarich quickly went to his bench often, getting some valuable playing time for the youngsters and giving his starters a well deserved breather on the sideline.
While the Knights escaped last weekend’s game with Triway with a 41-22 win, the team seemed much more relaxed and focused this time around, and both the players and coaching staff saw the results.
“Last week I think we were a little overconfident,” said Macauley. “This week everything was one step at a time, and we had really good practices all week.”
“We did a lot better coming out and playing hard as a team this week,” agreed Snyder, who threw for 108 yards on the night and made two sacks on defense. “We were pounding the running game and that opened up the passing game for us. The offensive line gave me plenty of time to throw the ball.”
Maltarich felt good about his team’s effort, noting too that the team played with great focus and intensity in week two. But he also realizes that there is much work to be done and plenty to do yet to get where they want to go.
“It was a lot better,” said Maltarich, “There was still mistakes in there, but overall we’ll take it. We wanted to get off to a quick start and take control early and we did that. I am really happy with the effort and the way we executed, took care of the mental mistakes and put the ball in the end zone when we needed to.”
Maltarich said that a big key to the game was the Knights front four on defense. He noted that the game plan coming in was to create a huge push up front and really stymie the Bears’ rushing game. That was exactly what happened, as River View got very little accomplished with the game on the line in the first half.
“Our kids were chasing down the quarterback and putting a helmet on him and that is exactly what we want. We want to create pressure and turnovers.”
He said, too, that the team’s mental approach all week long leading up to the game was far better than it had been in week one, a week in which he felt his players were a little overconfident going in against a young Titans team.
He said that the Knights now had to learn again from this contest, keep climbing the ladder and improving, rather than resting on the laurels of the early success.
Both he and his players know that tougher games lie ahead, and that the only way to survive in the rough Ohio Cardinal Conference is to play aggressive, mistake-free football.
Were the Knights close to that in this Friday night contest?
Yes, they were, but they weren’t perfect. As any good coach does, striving for that is the ultimate goal in pushing your team to improve.