West Union rolls in final pre-season tuneup –
Story and photos by Mark Carpenter –
Anyone who believes that the West Union varsity football program does not deserve at least an opportunity at becoming an official part of the Ohio High School Athletic Association should have made their way out to Freedom Field last Friday night.
On that night, the varsity Dragons hosted the Eastern Brown Warriors in a pre-season Foundation Game before a standing room-only crowd starved to see some high school football action. Though the Dragons came out on top in the end by a final score of 34-0, the whole evening was a shining example of how far the West Union program has progressed in both talent and community support.
“We had a great crowd and it is always fun to play under the lights on a Friday night,” said West Union head coach Scott McFarland. “We were so excited to see Eastern Brown joining the high school ranks and I thought they did a great job for their first varsity game.”
“Our guys were excited to play against another team after practicing against each other for a few weeks.”
As may have been expected, the more experienced Dragons controlled the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball, racking up huge rushing yards while continually stifling the Eastern offense, even playing without standout lineman Andrew Weeks who left in the first half with a shoulder injury.
The Warriors won the coin toss and after a pair of offsides calls on an anxious Dragon defense, were forced to punt and West Union took over on the Eastern 47. Eight running plays later the Dragons were in the end zone when fullback Jordan Hendricks barely made it over the goal line from 10 yards out with 5:45 left in the first period. The extra point attempt by Zack Best was wide and the Dragons led 6-0.
A nice kickoff return by Eastern’s Dylan Lainhart gave the Warriors the ball inside West Union territory, but after four plays, the visitors turned the ball over on downs. It didn’t take the Dragons long to capitalize as senior halfback Chris Silhavy broke loose for a 59-yard touchdown run on the first play. A two-point conversion pass from quarterback Ryan Rothwell to Bryan Vincent made it 14-0 in favor of the home team after the first quarter.
Early in the second quarter, another potential West Union scoring drive was stopped when Rothwell was picked off at the goal line by Eastern’s Jacob Bennington and the Warriors held the ball for seven plays before the Dragons’s defense stiffened and forced a punt. Starting at their own 15, it looked like West Union was going to quick strike again when running back Clayton Madden took off on an 85-yard touchdown scamper on the first snap, only to see the score nullified by an unnecessary block in the back.
The penalty was only a temporary setback for West Union as they proceeded to traverse the 85 yards in just four plays, scoring when Rothwell found receiver Dallas Waldron open over the middle. Waldron made one tackler miss and danced into the end zone for the 17-yard catch and score. The extra point attempt was blocked and the Dragons took a 20-0 advantage into the halftime break.
With both teams using backups freely in the second half, the play got sloppy and the penalty flags flew freely as the action slowed down considerably. No one scored in the third quarter as the possessions ended in a turnover on downs, a punt, a West Union fumble recovered by Eastern, and an Eastern fake punt that didn’t work.
The fourth quarter began with sophomore Brandan Cornell under center for the Dragons and he led his team on a 35-yard scoring drive, with almost all of the yardage coming form Silhavy, who closed the drive by going right up the gut from four yards away and then topping it off by running in the two-point try to make it 28-0 with 11:03 remaining.
After both teams turned the ball over on downs on their next possessions, with Jacob Stephens now handling the quarterbacking duties for West Union. With 2:39 to play, the Dragons got the ball at the Eastern 46 and again ti was Silhavy coming up big with his third rushing touchdown of the game, this time from 40 yards out, going nearly untouched right up the middle. The extra point was missed, which left the final score at 34-0 in favor of the home team.
“As with any early season game, there is still a lot of polishing to do on both sides of the ball, but I was pleased overall,” said Coach McFarland. “We will use our positives and negatives to improve for this week’s game with East Carter.”
“I was especially pleased with our defensive effort. Our run defense was very solid with several plays in the backfield and we kept them from the big play. On offense, we did some positive things and will work on improving our blocking schemes to get better. Our running backs had a nice game collectively and our line did a nice job of opening running lanes but we have to cut down on the turnovers.”
“We were able to get everyone some game action tonight which will help build the depth in our program,” McFarland continued. “As always, we want to thank our sponsors and all of those who support our program. These young men are learning about football and life thanks to their support.”
The Dragons open regular season play this Friday night, Aug. 26, back at Freedom Field when they host East Carter, Ky. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.
E. BROWN 0 0 0 0 –0
W. UNION 14 6 0 14 –34
WU- Hendricks 10-yard run (Extra point missed)
WU- Silhavy 59-yard run (Rothwell pass to Vincent conversion)
WU- Waldron 17-yard pass from Rothwell (Extra point blocked)
WU- Silhavy 3-yard run (Silhavy conversion run)
WU- Silhavy 4-yard run (Extra point missed)