Warriors dominate Colonels

By Tommy Keeler Jr.

STEPHENS CITY — After suffering a loss last week, Sherando wanted to bounce back on Friday night against James Wood — mission accomplished in an emphatic way.

The Warriors dominated in every phase of the game for a 44-7 Northwestern District football victory over James Wood.

“We were anxious,” Sherando senior running back LeeQuan Johnson Jr. said. “First district game, we just wanted to set the statement for the area. I think we did it tonight.”

The Warriors racked up 345 yards of offense in the first half compared to only 17 for James Wood.

Sherando was dedicated to the running game on its first drive. Johnson, who finished with 175 yards on 18 carries, carried the ball nine consecutive times on Sherando’s opening drive. His final carry was a 1-yard plunge to give Sherando a 7-0 lead with 8:23 left in the first quarter.

“I thought it was important that we do a good job establishing the run, and the physicality that we wanted to play with,” Sherando coach Bill Hall said. “I think that’s a credit to our guys.”

Sherando’s special teams gave the Warriors a lift just moments later. After forcing a James Wood punt, Sherando senior Adam Whitacre went to the right, then cut back and went 84 yards for the touchdown and a 14-0 lead with 6:30 left in the opening quarter.

“They told us this week that if everybody blocks we’re going to have a chance to take it to the house,” Whitacre said. “I just followed my blocks, and they led me all the way. I think it was a return left and I saw a hole on the right, but then I remembered that it was return left. So, I had to cut back to the left, because there was a huge hole. And I just read my blocks, and they did a great job blocking.”

After the Sherando defense forced another three-and-out, Johnson struck again. The senior busted right up the middle and went untouched into the end zone for a 57-yard touchdown with 4:42 left in the first quarter.

Most of Johnson’s runs before that had been for short yardage, but he said he knew that he would get a big one eventually.

“We always tell each other you got my back, I got yours, and [the offensive line] told me right before that play came ‘I got your back L.J. let’s get it,'” Johnson said. “I was like, ‘meet me at the house.’ And that’s what we did.”

After another three-and-out, Sherando quarterback Patrick Minteer connected with Brogan McPartland for a 57-yard gain to the James Wood 22. A false start moved the Warriors back five yards, and Sherando struck pay dirt on the next play.

Minteer connected with Whitacre on a 27-yard touchdown pass for a 28-0 lead with 2:04 left in the opening quarter.

“Coach [Hall] came out and told us [before the play] that we need to get ready and get set, because he knew that somebody was going to be open,” Whitacre said. “Pat [Minteer] has a great arm and threw a great pass to me.”

As dominant as Sherando (5-2, 1-0 Northwestern) was on offense, it was just as dominant on defense. The Colonels had only one first down in the first half and finished with just 118 yards of total offense for the game. McPartland had 2.5 of Sherando’s three sacks, including a safety in the third quarter.

Hall said the players weren’t happy with how they played last week, especially on defense.

“I was really pleased with the defense,” Hall said. “Everybody doing their job — we talk about that all the time. I think it’s about taking ownership of your position and also being responsible to your buddies out on the field that you got to do your job. If everybody’s doing their job good things are happening, especially on defense.”

Minteer threw for 153 yards on 4-for-10 passing and two touchdowns.

It was the first district game of the season for the Warriors, who are just trying to improve with each week and gear up for the playoffs.

“You don’t want to take anything for granted,” Hall said. “You get so few games in football. …We’re in week seven, you get one chance a week and you don’t want to live with regrets. You want to live in the present. You’ve got a great opportunity on a beautiful night, do the best that you can, and let’s try to realize our potential. And I think that’s what tonight was about was realizing our potential.”

Contact staff writer Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or tkeeler@nvdaily.com