Photo of Trevor Birchfield by Jim Cook
By Dave Morrison
Westside’s struggles continued in a 42-18 loss to Tolsia Thursday night.
The game was moved from Friday due to weather concerns attributed to Hurricane Florence.
The Renegades did move the football. Westside just could not stop Tolsia.
It was the second game in the last three where the Renegades gave up 42 points after holding Liberty to eight points in a season-opening 28-8 victory. Westside has been outscored 120-30 in the last three games.
Now Independence (0-4) rolls into town.
Interestingly, Westside has given up a combined 23 yards passing in the last three games. Opponents have found success in the run game, averaging 277 yards per game, including the Man game when Westside held Man to 149 yards on the ground. Wyoming East rushed for 299 and Tolsia 309 in the other two games.
In the Thursday night special at Clear Fork, the Renegades did score 18, including two touchdown passes from quarterback Bradie Vance, who threw for a career-high 201 yards. He completed a TD pass to Trevor Birchfield (104 receiving yards) for the third straight game. Jace Colucci had the other touchdown reception.
The Patriots are struggling. However, the four teams that have beaten Independence are a combined 14-2, including undefeated Midland Trail and Oak Hill. Westside faces both later in the season.
Independence is led by Niko Burgess with 377 yards rushing. Quarterback Phillip Spurlock is 26 for 51 passing for 302 yards and a touchdown. Burgess has seven catches for 125 yards and Derek Farley has nine catches for 123 yards.
John H. Lilly, the long-time Raleigh County high school coach, is in his first year at Independence.
“I would think they would test our secondary,” Lilly said. “We have two sophomores and a junior (in he defensive backfield). They throw quite a bit and have had success with the deep ball.”
Vance has completed 31 passes for 438 yards, an average of 14.1 yards per completion. Birchfield has 182 yards receiving and three touchdowns.
Westside has run for just 47 yards per game in the last three for an average of 2.1 yards per game (68 rushes, 140 yards). The Renegades have just two rushing touchdowns this season, one in the opener when the team rushed for 222 yards against Liberty (and averaged 5.8 yards per carry).
“They’re going to want to jump on us early because we have struggled to score,” Lilly said. “However our first four opponents are 14-2 so it’s hard to tell. We are inexperienced across the board but we should be growing fast.”
In the last two games though Independence has given up 74 (37 ppg) to Oak Hill and Shady Spring.
It will be homecoming at Westside.
Wyoming East (1-3) at James Monroe (1-2)
If ever a game could be classified as a moral victory, Wyoming East’s 48-47 overtime loss to Class AA No. 11 Oak Hill is it.
Oak Hill is rated and rolling at 3-0, putting up 45 points on an Independence team that, despite being 0-3, had given up a combined 31 points to the explosive offenses of PikeView and Midland Trail.
Class AA. No7 Oak Hill was able to fend off a 15-point comeback by the Warriors and then make a big stop on a game-winning two-point conversion to improve to 4-0.
Wyoming East falls to 1-3 with the loss.
“My kids played their hearts out, I’m just so proud of them,” Wyoming East coach Don Jewell said. “They pulled together as a team. They had a team meeting and sat down and talked to one another. They’re wanting to finish this thing 7-3. They’ve lost their last game according to these guys. We’ve lost to Fayetteville, Nicholas County and Oak HIll. We don’t want to lose another game. They lost for the last time, that was their message to each other tonight. If we play like we did tonight, we can do that.”
It starts this week at James Monroe, coming off a 13-12 victory over a good PikeView squad.
Wyoming East went back to the spread with positive results against Oak Hill. It was their staple last year.
Coming into the game Wyoming East had completed just three of 10 attempts for 47 yards. Thursday quarterback Seth Ross, who missed last week’s game after being suspended for the Nicholas game after leaving the bench during an altercation, was 13 for 26 for 146 yards and three touchdowns.
It was apparent early and East scored first on a 33-yard pass from Ross to Caleb Bower for a touchdown.
“We came out in our spread but we realized we could also run on this bunch (Oak Hill),” Jewell said.
Wyoming East rushed for 310 yards, led by the monster game by Bower, who had 222 rush yards to go with 146 passing.
The newfound passing attack has caught the attention of Mavs’ coach Chris Booth.
“”After watching the film its obvious they can now throw it downfield in the spread,” Booth said. “They can also go double tight end and hurt you with crossbucks, quick pitches and the inside trap with the fullback. We again have our hands full Friday.”
Cody Moore has 113 yards to lead the Mavericks rushing and Monroe Mohler has 98 yards. Mohler also has completed 12 of 27 passing for 175 yards and two touchdowns. Xavier Castillo has nine catches for 126 yards and one touchdown.
Bower leads East with 557 yard and six scores. Alex Hall has 187 and Michael Elkins 184. Jacob Bishop had a breakout game with six catches for 90 yards and two TD.