By J. Daniel Rollins
Register-Herald Sports Writer
NEW RICHMOND —
When both Westside’s Justin Cogar and Wyoming East’s Jacob Summe followed their team onto the field on crutches, it was a safe bet that much of Wyoming County was on pins and needles as to how their teams would react.
Westside came in off a convincing win against a young Liberty squad, while Wyoming East picked up a hard-fought victory against Mingo Central.
So when the teams came together with the Golden Shovel on the line, fireworks were expected.
It wasn’t quite the fourth of July in New Richmond.
Junior quarterback Aaron Griffith, who completed 12 passes for 210 yards and three touchdowns, paced the Warriors to a 35-6 victory over Westside, bringing the shovel — and bragging rights — home for the Warriors.
“This means everything,” Griffith said. “Bringing this trophy home for these seniors is huge.”
“Bringing this thing home is huge, especially in my last year. We’ve just got to find some place to put it,” Wyoming East senior Christian Hedinger added.
Griffith took control of the game early in the first half, leading the green and black express down the field and connecting with 5-foot-11 junior receiver Jacob Dulcie for a 36-yard touchdown pass. He followed that up in the second quarter with a 3-yard pass to Dulcie to go into the half up 14-0.
Griffith wasted little time in the second half, finding senior Christian Hedinger down the Westside sideline for another touchdown.
He wasn’t done there.
Griffith added another one on the ground for good measure to go up 28-0 and finally drive a dagger through the heart of Renegade Nation.
“We knew that we had to step up when Jacob wasn’t playing,” Griffith said. “We couldn’t let that get in the way. We have a lot of spots, and anyone could take those spots. Jacob’s a great running back, but Brian (Whitt) is great as well. I think we proved we could compete with anyone.”
The Renegades struggled to really gain momentum, despite Griffith’s two turnovers in the redzone early in the first half.
“You know, throwing two interceptions, you’ve got to erase it and keep moving forward,” Griffith said. “We can’t let anything get in the way.”
Mike Mullens, who finished last week’s battle with Liberty with 290 yards and six touchdowns, failed to find the end zone until late in the game, preventing the Renegades from being shut out against their biggest rival.
“Mikey is a great running back, and we knew we had to stop him from getting outside,” Hedinger said. “We read the option well and prevented that.”
The loss marked the first blemish on Larry Cook’s coaching record with the Renegades.
“We’re just disappointed,” Cook said. “(The Golden Shovel) is something we’ve owned for five years. I’m not sure we were really hungry. Wyoming East was bigger and stronger than we were. Our coverage broke down a few times, and they executed well. I have to say they were better than us.”
Westside will get a chance to right the ship next week when it welcomes Man. Wyoming East will welcome Sherman to The Warzone.
— E-mail: jrollins
@register-herald.com and follow on Twitter at @JDanielRollins.
W (1-1) 0 0 0 6 - 6
WE (2-0) 7 7 14 7 - 35
WE: Jacob Dulcie 38 yard pass from Aaron Griffith (Tristan Jones kick)
WE: Dulcie 2 yard pass from Griffith (Jones kick)
WE: Christian Hedinger 24 yard pass from Griffith (Jones kick)
WE: Griffith 2 yard run (Jones kick)
WE: Nik Walker 46 yard run, (Jones kick)
W: Mullens 4 yard run (pass failed)
RUSHING – W: Mullens 12-87, Larry Cook 8-(-20), Brice Robertson 1-14. WE: Dulcie 4-29, Nik Walker 2-67-1, Coty Bishing 11-21, Aaron Griffith 14-49, Brian Whitt 11-41.
PASSING – W: Larry Cook 3-5-0-54, Mike Mullens 1-1-0-62 WE: Griffith 12-16-3-210.
RECEIVING – W: Corey Bowles 1-62, Mullens 3-54. WE: Dulcie 4-84, Witt 2-14, Andrew Shirley 1-7. Hedinger 5-105.
TURNOVERS – W: Bowles (2 INT).