Balanced offense spark Wildcats to win
By Tommy Keeler Jr.
FRONT ROYAL — If there was any doubt about Warren County’s passing game before Friday’s game against James Wood, the Wildcats can put their fears to rest.
The Wildcats used a balanced attack to knock off James Wood, 41-20, in non-district football action.
“That’s something we’ve been working on,” Warren County coach Tony Tallent said of his team’s passing game. “We knew we were going to have to be able to throw the ball down the field.”
Warren County quarterback Austen Butler threw for 92 yards on 3 of 6 passing. The Colonels were coming with the blitz during the game, and Butler said he had faith in all of his wide receivers.
“They blitzed and we expected that,” Butler said. “I knew where I was going to go with the ball, and put the ball where I wanted to.”
The Wildcats’ ground game showed its power right off the bat. Warren County senior running back Demetrus Yates ran up the middle for a 69-yard touchdown run on the first play from scrimmage.
“All week in practice we knew that they knew that we were good outside, and we just worked on going through the middle,” Yates said. “I had amazing blocking from my linemen and they opened up a hole for me. I took that and ran with it.”
Yates finished the game with 137 yards on 16 carries and a touchdown.
The Colonels got a safety on Warren County’s next possession, as James Wood’s Landon Rutherford sacked Butler in the end zone.
The Colonels drove the ball down the field on the ensuing possession, but settled for a 39-yard field goal by Willi Spears with 5:19 left in the first quarter.
The Wildcats (2-1) responded with their passing game.
Butler connected with senior wide receiver Jontae Rollins for a 33-yard touchdown pass over the middle for a 13-5 lead with 4:55 left in the opening quarter.
“That felt good,” Butler said. “I got hit off a blitz, but I knew as soon as I threw it, it was a touchdown. It was a great feeling.”
Butler threw his second TD on the Wildcats’ next possession. This time he connected with senior Casey Stewart, a transfer from Skyline.
“He’s coming from Skyline, it was good feeling for him getting his first Warren County touchdown,” Butler said. “It was a pleasure throwing it for him.”
The Wildcats used 10 plays to go 99 yards on their next drive. Butler capped the drive off with a 1-yard plunge to give the Wildcats a 27-5 lead with 6:20 left in the first half.
Warren County extended the lead to 41-5 early in the third quarter, but then started to play sloppy. The Colonels (0-3) were able to cut the lead to 21 points, but it wasn’t enough.
“I think that’s showed us that we still have some maturity to go as a football team — how to close out a team,” Tallent said.
The Colonels were led by Tyler Bishop, who ran for 135 yards on 18 carries and two touchdowns.
Warren County running back Josh Newman ran for 86 yards on six carries and had two touchdowns for the Wildcats.
The Wildcats have a bye next week, before hosting William Monroe on Sept. 20.
“We played well. We came out with a lot of intensity,” Yates said. “This game was extremely big. It really boosts our confidence up.”
Contact Assistant Sports Editor Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or firstname.lastname@example.org Follow on Twitter @tkeelernvd