By Brad Fauber
WINCHESTER -- It wasn't flashy, and it certainly wasn't fancy, but Sherando took care of business on the road against winless James Wood in the Northwestern District opener for both teams on Monday night.
Playing on a soggy field at Jerry Kelican Stadium after the weekend's rainy conditions forced the game to be moved from last Friday to Monday night, the Warriors were content just pounding away at the Colonels' defense with its power rushing attack. The simple game plan proved effective, as the Warriors ran for 262 yard and five touchdowns in a 41-6 rout.
"It was more just situational football tonight," Warriors coach Bill Hall said. "We started off, usually we go through kind of an open script just to see how they're going line up in different formations. They were just really loose with coverage and stuff ... so we just decided we were just going to run it."
The Warriors (6-1, 1-0 Northwestern) faced little resistance from James Wood's defense after the Colonels held Sherando to a three-and-out on its first possession, as the Warriors scored on five straight drives to take a 35-0 lead into halftime.
Sherando senior running back George Aston got things rolling on the Warriors' second offensive possession of the night, as he carried the ball on all five plays of Sherando's 66-yard touchdown drive.
Aston capped the drive with a 33-yard touchdown run that gave the Warriors a 6-0 lead with 5:52 left in the first quarter.
"I bounced out there at first, it didn't look like I had much but I broke one tackle and I just slowed down a little bit, let my blockers get out in front of me," said Aston, who had 12 carries for 120 yards and three touchdowns to lead Sherando. "I just followed them into the end zone."
Aston added another touchdown run of eight yards to cap a 67-yard drive to end the first quarter, and Sherando junior LeeQuan Johnson (10 carries, 60 yards) got into the act with a nine-yard scamper that gave the Warriors a 20-0 lead with 8:53 left in the half.
The Warriors took advantage of a short field when senior quarterback Reid Entsminger (5 for 6, 70 yards) found Adam Whitacre in the flat, and Whitacre sprinted 24 yards into the end zone to expand Sherando's lead.
Sherando ended the first half with a 63-yard drive that ended in a one-yard plunge by Aston.
"Coach Hall stressed a lot this week that no matter what team we play ... we've got to play our game, every single play just like we're playing in the state championship," Aston said. "We came out here and that's what we tried to do."
Sherando out-gained the Colonels 332 to 138 in total yardage in the game, and James Wood (0-7, 0-1) managed just 48 total yards and two first downs against the Warriors' first-team defense in the first half. Sherando played its second-string offense and defense for the entirety of the second half.
James Wood was without starting quarterback Cam Butler (knee) on Monday, and the Colonels tried to show some different looks on offense to try and generate yards. The Colonels relied heavily on read-option plays out of the shotgun formation with backup quarterback Brady Hepner, and James Wood even tried some direct snaps to running back Tyler Bishop in a wildcat formation.
The different looks amounted to little against Sherando's defense, which held James Wood out of the end zone until Hepner scored on a one-yard sneak with 7:27 remaining in the fourth quarter.
The Warriors held Bishop to just 50 yards on 18 carries, including just five yards in the first half.
"We talked about it this week, because Cam Butler got injured, that they were going to change up stuff with their offense to try to make plays happen," Warriors senior linebacker Daniel Eppard said. "We didn't know exactly what they were going to do, but we knew they were going to have something up their sleeves. We had to make sure to try and prepare for that the best we could, no matter what it was."
Hall said he was happy with the way the Warriors put the game out of reach in the first half, especially considering the huge district showdown with Handley that is coming up on Saturday night.
"I was really proud of our guys. I think it would be very easy to just overlook these guys and I think that shows some maturity on our guys' part," Hall said. "This week it was all about James Wood, and they did a good job handling the adversity of playing on a Monday night."
Contact sports writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or firstname.lastname@example.org