By Tommy Keeler Jr. - email@example.com
WINCHESTER -- As the finals seconds ticked off the clock, the Warren County crowd started chanting 'Four-and-0.' Senior Damien Caison couldn't help but smile proudly as he heard the chants after the Wildcats' 19-0 win over James Wood on Friday.
"It gave me goose bumps," Caison said. "I heard the cheerleaders saying something, but I couldn't hear what they were saying. Then when I heard the fans, I knew they were saying 'Four-and-0.' It just gave me goose bumps. It just felt great."
Warren County entered the game 3-0, but the Wildcats' first three wins were against two first-year programs and a single-A school. Caison said that the players felt they weren't getting respect because of whom they played.
The Wildcats (4-0) left no doubt against the Colonels (2-2) that they are a team to be taken seriously. Warren County had several big hits and the Wildcats were clearly more physical than the Colonels.
"We didn't feel like we were getting a lot of respect," Caison said. "That really fueled our fire. We decided we didn't want to have respect, we wanted to earn it. I can't think of any better way to do that than to lay a big goose-egg on James Wood.
"We knew James Wood was known for being a physical team and we wanted to show we were more physical than James Wood, and we did that."
In the first half, the Wildcats completely dominated the game. They used long, time-consuming drives on offense to build a 19-0 lead.
On the Wildcats' first possession, they used nine plays to go 67 yards. Warren County junior Gage Steele ran five times for 41 yards on the drive, which was capped off by an 8-yard touchdown run from Caison with 7:41 left in the first quarter.
The Colonels were without five players due to injuries, including normal starting quarterback Matt Copley. Junior Jake Lewin made his first start at quarterback and had a rough opening series, as he was intercepted by Warren County's Jeremy Vogt with 4:48 left in the first quarter.
The Wildcats went right back to work. They used nine plays once again, this time to go 51 yards. Steele, who finished the game with 22 carries for 111 yards, finished off the drive with a 2-yard touchdown for a 13-0 lead with 17 seconds left in the opening quarter.
"The linemen just opened the hole and I ran through it," Steele said of his touchdown. "They made it easy for me."
James Wood put together a solid drive on its next possession, but was stopped on fourth-and-6 from the Warren County 29. The Wildcats took over and held onto the ball for almost the rest of the first half.
Warren County put together a 17-play drive, which ended with a 7-yard pass from Tyler Post to Caison on third-and-goal with 10 seconds left in the first half.
"They called a bootleg and I got excited, because that's my favorite play," Caison said. "The offensive line did a great job giving Tyler time to throw the ball. He made a nice pass right out in front of me. I just tried to box out [the defender] like I do in basketball. And I just caught the ball."
The second half was mostly a defensive struggle, but there were several ferocious hits by the Wildcats, which excited the team.
Midway through the fourth quarter, Lewin fumbled, but teammate Cory Schrock picked it up the ball and tried to run with it. He didn't get far before Caison came up and drilled him.
"I saw the quarterback rolling out and I didn't even realize he fumbled," Caison said. "Then I saw [Schrock] pick it up. Gage [Steele} and I made eye contact. I just went up and made the hit.
"It felt good. When you make a hit like that you don't feel anything. It's just great. It felt too good."
It's the second straight loss for James Wood, which plays at Brentsville next week. James Wood coach Mike Bolin said the team just has to move on from the loss and get better.
"It's been a long time since we've been on the other side of one of these," Bolin said. "We're not blocking people and we're not tackling people. We just have to get better, and we have to keep working at it."
The Wildcats have another big game next week at rival Handley. On Friday night, at least for a little while, the Wildcats were able to bask in their glory of what they had accomplished.
"We wanted to come out and hit harder than them," Steele said. "We out-hit them. We pounded it down their throats."