So far in 2017 the newly created Inter-Valley Conference has suited the Garaway Pirates’ football team just fine.
The Pirates improved to 2-0 in league play by crushing Malvern 43-12. Garaway played consistently throughout the game, combining an astute passing game with a grinding ground game that helped the Pirates systematically pull away for an easy win.
Malvern was coming off of its lone win this season, a week four 49-20 win over Newcomerstown. The Hornets lost to United 12-6, fell to Bishop Rosecrans 41-34 and lost a 35-24 game to David Anderson in the season opener.
There were plenty of highlights in Garaway’s third victory of the year.
It’s tough to be perfect
In the game of football every quarterback dreams of never missing a pass, of hitting every receiver in stride and tossing touchdown after touchdown. Dawson Ley didn’t accomplish that feat versus Malvern, but he got pretty doggone close.
Ley picked apart the Malvern defense by throwing three touchdowns while completing 14-of-16 passes. His only black eye on the night was a lone interception, but the 14-of-16 completion numbers show an uncanny amount of precision from the sophomore QB.
“He’s starting to settle in back there,” Garaway head coach Jason Wallick said following last week’s 42-6 win over Tuscarawas Central Catholic. “You can see him starting to gain confidence in his decision-making, and he has been hitting his marks very well.”
Running and gunning: A tale of two halves
The way the Pirates found the end zone in each half of the victory over the Hornets was night and day.
In the first half Ley launched a trio of touchdown passes. The first came midway through the first period when he connected with freshman Brady Yoder for a 13-yard scoring strike. The second came three minutes later when he found Matthew Mullen for an 18-yard catch and romp to pay dirt. The final touchdown toss of the half came halfway through the second quarter when Ley and Austin Fearon teamed up for a 13-yard score.
In the second half the Pirates traded in their aerial attack for a ground and pound game. Brady Winters pushed the Pirates lead to 27-12 to open the third quarter when he raced home from 8-yards out. Winters scored again from 5 yards, and Matthew Mullen scored again from 10-yards out to top off the three-touchdown second half.
Bearing down on D
Malvern kept pace with Garaway throughout the first half, thanks in large part to the running of Austin Patterson and Jason Goldsworthy.
Trailing just 21-12 at the half, the underdog Hornets were starting to have some big ideas of an upset. Garaway’s defense pretty much shut that thought process down in the second half.
Led by Matthew Mullen (seven tackles), Dylan Hershberger (5), Garrett Hershberger (5) and Kory Stress (4), the Pirates’ defense completely shut down the Hornets’ attack in the second half, never allowing Malvern to cross the goal line to make sure that the Hornets’ effort to come up with an upset went unfulfilled.
The Winter season has arrived
After a bit of a struggle to get rolling in the early portion of the season, star junior running back Brady Winters appears to be healthy and ready to showcase the immense talent he possesses.
“Brady dealt with injuries last year after having a great freshman year, and he looks like he is finally back to where he was in his freshman year,” Wallick said following Winters’ week-four break-out game that saw him roll for 165 yards and three scores on just eight carries in a win over TCC.
This game wasn’t quite as impressive but was a great effort nonetheless. Winters toted the ball 18 times for 154 yards as the offense leaned on the running back heavily in the second half when the Pirates pulled away.
Pirates rolling on the high sea
After getting thumped by currently undefeated Dalton (5-0) in the season opener, the Pirates have won three of four with their lone loss coming to perennial state small school power Danville. That loss was a three-point defeat that came late, and Garaway played very well in the loss. Garaway’s three victories in that span have come by an average point differential of 35 points.
Wallick said the wins are great for a young team, but the most important thing about the stretch of quality games is the experience his team is getting.
“We just want to keep getting better and better each time we come out here,” Wallick said. “We’ve got a lot of young kids out here who are still learning.”