Winter has officially arrived, at least on the gridiron.
Last season Brady Winters broke into the Garaway football ranks and made a most impressive impression on the coaching staff and his teammates, even as a young freshman.
Thus, it was almost a given that the flashy tailback would continue to build on that early success this year.
However, the running game has taken a back seat to a prolific passing game that has seen quarterback R.J. Jacobs throw or run for 23 touchdowns in the Pirates’ four-game winning streak to open the season, Winters had his name on the marquee in Garaway’s 41-7 thumping of East Canton Friday, Sept. 16 at the Hill in Sugarcreek.
The sophomore grabbed a pair of Jacobs touchdown passes on the first two series of the game, then scored on runs of two and three yards out on the next two possessions after Jacobs had hit Quinn Miller for TD one possession earlier, to lift the Pirates to a quick 34-0 lead just eight minutes into the second quarter.
“I guess it was my night, but it was really a great team effort,” said Winters, who ended the night rushing for 66 yards on just seven carries while grabbing four passes for 43 yards.
The four scores was a first for Winters, and he said he was excited to be able to pull off the feat as a sophomore.
While he was the one being mobbed in the end zone early and often, he said hat is more satisfying is knowing that this team doesn’t really care who gets into the end zone, as long as they all get to celebrate a lot.
“It’s all fun, and no touchdown is any more meaningful than the next,” said Winters. “The great thing about this team is that absolutely nobody care who scores. We know everyone will eventually get opportunities, and its’ fun to celebrate no matter who finds the end zone.”
Not only did Winters score four times, he also made a pivotal hit early in the game that set a real tone as to how ferocious this Pirates team would come out against the 2-2 Hornets.
After Jacobs quickly directed the Pirates down the field and found Winters on a 13-yard scoring strike, Winter lined up on special teams, whipped down the field and delivered a huge hit to the Hornets’ player who had fielded the kick. The ball came squirting out, and although a host of Pirates dove for the pigskin, none could snag it before it rolled out of bounds.
— OhioSportsTicket.com (@OhioTicket) September 16, 2016
Regardless, Winters’ big hit delivered the message loud and clear that this night was going to belong to the Pirates.
After the defense held East Canton, Jacobs again got the Pirates downfield quickly, and again found Winters for a 12 yard touchdown.
Another stop and a huge 45-yard catch and run from Quinn Miller set up a 5-yard scoring strike from Jacobs to Miller for a 20-0 lead.
Jacobs then found Ty Hamsher and Carson Troyer for big gainers to set up Winters’ next two scores from short yardage runs.
Garaway put the finishing touch on the game to begin the third quarter, when they got an interception from Ian Hershberger, and Jacobs connected with Troyer on a 47-yard scoring toss to make it 41-0.
“He was 18-of-20 passing tonight, that is a pretty efficient night,” said Garaway coach Jason Wallick of Jacobs’ evening of throwing the ball. The senior QB ended the half-night with 275 yards passing and the four scores. “He’s been phenomenal. He has been right around 75 percent completion ratio, and we certainly have the hands catching the ball to make that happen.”
The starters were done for the night, and the second unit came in to gain some more experience, something that has taken place the past three games for the Pirates.
“We have definitely had the opportunity to get our younger kids some meaningful snaps with the way we have played early on, and that is going to pay dividends in the long run,” said Wallick. “Our younger kids have competed very well when given the opportunity and our freshman team has competed very well against some bigger teams in their games. That is a lot of valuable experience.”
With the clock running throughout the second half, the game moved quickly, and the Pirates allowed a late, meaningless score to East Canton, with Travis Nelson cruising to pay dirt from 27 yards out to end the scoring for the evening.
Now at 4-0, Garaway will face its biggest pair of weekends of the season, visiting Sandy Valley in week five before traveling to Ridgewood in week six. That should go a long way in determining the Inter-Valley Conference champion. The Generals claimed their stake by thumping the Cardinals 31-0 in West Lafayette while Garaway was having its way with East Canton.
Last season Garaway lost to both teams, and the Pirates feel like they have something to prove coming into the two key games this year.
“We didn’t play well against Sandy Valley last year,” said Wallick. “We were extremely beat up and we had seven turnovers, and they took it to us.”
After Sandy drilled the Pirates on The Hill, Ridgewood (4-0) came in on a very windy night and won a 7-0 defensive battle that was extremely well contested as the Pirates tried to go to a ground game to chew clock.
“We will find out just how good we are over the next two weeks,” said Wallick.
• The Big Hammer of the Night
Wintes may have delivered a big hit to force a fumble, but the big hammer of the night went to cornerback Tanner Petitte, who absolutely blew up an East Canton running back on a monster hit for a six-yard loss. Petitte isn’t big, at 5-10, 150-pouns, but he can delivers a lot of pain per square inch, and did so on this play. He ended the night with a team-high eight solo tackles, including the beastly one for a loss.
— OhioSportsTicket.com (@OhioTicket) September 17, 2016