Steele, Wildcats stifle Cougars

By Tommy Keeler Jr.

FRONT ROYAL — Blake Steele loves the feeling of bringing down the opposing quarterback. Whether it’s getting a sack or making the opposing quarterback make a mistake, the senior defensive lineman can’t help but get excited.

“As soon as you take him down, or you make him stumble and other people bring him down, or even just making him rush or throw an interception, it’s just awesome,” Steele said of making a play on the quarterback. “You get the jitters, you get loud screams. I have to take a couple breaths after a sack because I’m losing it all, screaming.”

Steele and the Wildcats’ defense had plenty to scream about Monday in a 21-7 Bull Run District football victory over Manassas Park, in a game that was postponed from Friday.
The Wildcats held the Cougars to only 21 yards of total offense, and Steele led the way in helping Warren County to four sacks. Manassas Park had zero passing yards.

“After the first quarter or so, when we got to see what all they were running and their formations, we were sort of calling out three possibilities and a lot of times we were right,” Steele said. “We adjusted well to the ball.”

The Cougars didn’t pick up a first down after the third play of the second quarter.

Warren County (4-2, 3-1 Bull Run) looked sharp on offense to start the game. The Wildcats went 59 yards on their first possession on eight plays. Warren County running back Demetrus Yates ran on all but one of the plays.

Yates, who rushed for 177 yards on 30 carries, finished off the drive with a 3-yard touchdown run to give the Wildcats a 7-0 lead with 7:35 left in the first quarter.

“We emphasized it was going to be wet,” Yates said. “I knew it rained all week so I knew that I couldn’t be as elusive and cutty as usual, but I just planted my feet in the ground, and took to the holes the line gave me. They did a great job blocking and opened up a lot of holes, and I hit the hole and I got some touchdowns.”

The Cougars (2-4, 0-4) put together their best drive of the night on the next possession, but it stalled at the Warren County 32.

The score remained the same until the fourth quarter. The Wildcats had several opportunities to add to their lead, but came up empty on back-to-back red zone possessions in the second half.

The Wildcats finally added to their lead in the fourth quarter. Warren County quarterback Austen Butler capped off a 48-yard drive with a 1-yard plunge for a 14-0 lead with 6:43 left in the game.

The defense then came up with its most impressive series of the game. They sacked Manassas Park quarterback Jonathan Bunner on three straight plays to turn the ball over on downs.

“There in the fourth quarter, when you know they have to throw, it’s your job as a defensive lineman to put pressure on the quarterback, especially when you know he’s throwing,” Steele said. “[Assistant] Coach [John] Hare teaches us some pretty good moves to get a rush on the quarterback. That’s how we had to do it.”

Warren County needed only three plays to take advantage of the 15-yard drive, with Yates capping it off with a 2-yard touchdown.

Manassas Park’s Forest Corado picked up a Warren County fumble and returned it 56 yards for the Cougars’ only score with 2:04 left in the game.

The Wildcats were coming off a tough loss to Clarke County last week, and the win over the Cougars was a good boost for the team.

“Having no school [Monday], I was real happy with how focused we were,” Steele said. “We came in here knowing what the job was and it was a big win.”

Contact Assistant Sports Editor Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or tkeeler@nvdaily.com Follow on Twitter @tkeelernvd