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By BRIAN LANGLEY
Morgan County News
WARTBURG — Jim Gibson would have been proud.
The late Gibson, a former Coalfield and Wartburg football coach who was known for defense, would have loved being involved in Wartburg’s hard-earned 13-0 victory over the Jackets Friday night.
It was the Bulldogs first time getting to secure the ‘Hoot Bowl’ trophy, in honor of Jim ‘Hoot’ Gibson. The trophy has been given to the winning team in this game since the 2006 season.
The victory allowed Wartburg (1-1) to snap a 33-game losing streak and was the first win for the Bulldog seniors. The last game the Wartburg seniors had won was the last game of their 6th grade season against Fairview back in 2002. They had suffered through 49 straight defeats.
“Three years, no wins. It was hard. Everybody always there goes Wartburg they suck. We finally won and we beat our county rival, so it’s a big monkey off our back,” offered Wartburg senior receiver/defensive back Eugene Poole.
“I think I’ve lost 49 games in a row until tonight, so it feels great.”
Wartburg senior quarterback Tyler Trout, who was only cleared to play a day before the game, was equally excited about breaking the losing streak.
“I’m glad we broke that streak, that is 100 percent sure. It ain’t hit me right now. I’m excited, but in the morning it will be ten times better,” said Trout.
“It’s great to share this with Philip Daugherty. He has helped me through thick and thin. These seniors deserve this. We have worked too hard for too long not to get this win.”
The win over the Jackets also marked Wartburg head coach Dan Shoemaker’s first career victory.
“I told the seniors in the huddle this was for them. They had never won a high school football game so we’re just extremely happy for them, this whole team and the community,” explained Shoemaker, who evened his record to 1-1.
“Coalfield came out and played us tough and we knew they were going to. We knew we had to play well.”
It was Wartburg’s first shutout against Coalfield since an 18-0 win back in 1984.
“Our defense shut them out. Coach (Rodney) Ellison knows his defense and our scheme worked to perfection tonight,” said Poole, who intercepted a pass.
“We shutout the county rival team that is supposed to be the best with Shawn (Armes) and Ryan (Armes) as two tailbacks that are really good. We shut down their run and we shut down their pass. We had three interceptions and our defense has really came along good.”
Wartburg’s victory against Coalfield also snapped a four-game losing streak to the Jackets, who had outscored the Bulldogs 152-25 during that stretch.
“I told them all week long that this was going to be their game that they were going to find out what is was like to win. I can’t imagine losing that many games in a row,” offered Wartburg defensive coordinator Rodney Ellison.
“You could tell it was an intense rivalry. Just seeing the looks on some of the fans’ faces congratulating us when we were coming up just beating Coalfield, you can tell it is huge deal here. I’m glad that if we were going to break a streak like that, it was a good team to do it against.”
Wartburg held a 266-135 edge in total yards and took advantage of Coalfield’s five turnovers, including one that led to the game’s first and decisive score in the second quarter.
“Give Wartburg credit. They capitalized on mistakes we made. Give them credit for playing hard and getting after us,” offered Jacket head coach Keith Henry.
“We started out on the opening kickoff with a penalty and the penalties and turnovers snowballed all night.”
Big game jitters or just well-played defense by both teams caused both teams to turn the ball over twice each in the opening quarter.
Wartburg’s Drew Jenkins picked off an Adam Doughty pass on the game’s third play from scrimmage, but Coalfield’s Arron Huff returned the favor three plays later when he intercepted a Philip Daugherty pass.
The Jackets got inside the Wartburg 20 before Tyler Browning lost the football and Wartburg’s Travis Hamby recovered at the 17. Coalfield forced a punt three plays later and they used two runs for 27 yards by Shawn Armes to get inside the Wartburg 25 before they were stopped on downs.
The Bulldogs coughed the football back up at their own 32 with Coalfield’s Wayne Fletcher getting the pigskin at the Bulldog 32. The Jackets got as close as the 26 before they ended the drive on downs. Wartburg used a big fourth down stop on Armes by Hamby and Aaron Hutchison.
Wartburg’s Hamby provided what turned out to be the biggest offensive play of the night when he ripped off a 44-yard run early in the second quarter to flip the field in the ‘Dogs favor. Coalfield’s defense stepped up and stopped Wartburg on downs at their own three when Huff tripped up Hamby.
Two plays later and Coalfield’s Armes fumbled the ball away and Daugherty recovered at the 8 for the Bulldogs. Wartburg needed all four downs before Hamby found the end zone on a three-yard run up the gut. Jenkins added the extra point and the Bulldogs led 7-0 with 5:25 left in the first half.
“It was huge (first touchdown). Defense played well, but you always wonder in the back of you’re mind can I score. They Wartburg) answered everything we asked them to do,” said Shoemaker.
Coalfield crossed midfield on their last possession of the first half, but Wartburg’s defense forced another drive to end on downs when Hamby tripped up Doughty behind the line. Wartburg took a 7-0 lead into the locker room.
“You knew this was going to be a defensive battle and our defense was able to make some big plays in key moments. The first half I felt like we had our backs against the wall before the offense got clicking, but they kept coming up with big play after big play,” said Ellison.
The Bulldogs punted away their first offensive series of the third quarter and Jenkins’ 39-yard punt pinned Coalfield back to their own nine. A false start penalty against the Jackets and then a Hamby and Hutchison sack on Doughty back to the two forced Coalfield’s first punt of the game. Coalfield’s Armes was roughed on the kick and it wiped off a 21-yard punt and gave the Jackets the ball at the 18.
Armes ripped off a 30-yard run, but it was called back on an illegal shift. Four plays later, Coalfield’s Doughty went deep, but was intercepted by Eugene Poole, who tried to make a big return, but was popped by Armes to cause a fumble for Coalfield’s Matt Roberts to recover at the Wartburg 39. Three plays later and Hamby and Hutchison combined to sack Doughty to force another punt.
Wartburg was backed up to their own 10 and after a false start, they got moved on back to the five. The Bulldogs then went on an impressive 18-play, 95-yard scoring drive capped by a 12-yard touchdown run by Hamby. Wartburg milked nearly ten minutes off the clock to put them two scores ahead with under three minutes left in the game. Jenkins missed the extra point, but Wartburg led 13-0 with 2:53 to play.
“That drive from about the five was a big momentum boost. To get that one stuck in the end zone was a great thing,” said Shoemaker.
The Jackets came out passing on their final drive of the game and Doughty hit Forrest Adkisson for two passes covering 21 yards and hooked up with Anthony Wilkins for a 10-yard pass to get them past midfield before Wartburg’s Adam Spence picked off a pass to preserve a 13-0 win for the Bulldogs.
“Our defensive backs came up huge tonight. It was Adam Spence’s first game back and he put a spark in us and he played his position perfect,” said Ellison.
Wartburg won the battle of the turnovers as they gave up three and forced five.
Wartburg’s 266-yard offensive attack was led by the 1-2 rushing punch of Travis Hamby (20-149, 2 TD) and Drew Jenkins (5-38). Tyler Trout was 2-10 for 26 yards passing and added 16 rushing yards on 4 carries. Eugene Poole (1-30) was the top receiver for the ‘Dogs.
“Tyler (Trout) gave us a boost and we were happy to get him back. He prepared himself this week, even though we didn’t know we would have him back or not, and he knew what we wanted to run and was able to run it. He (Travis Hamby) had both scores and I knew when I had to have it, he was the guy to get the ball in his hands. It was a tremendous effort by him,” said Shoemaker.
“I want to play close and have a shot at the end. We didn’t throw the ball as well I wanted to, but we were able to run it tonight. You gotta find what works and with this offense we were able to do that.”
Wartburg’s offensive line of Dustin Heidel, Josh Jackson, Logan Bunch, Brian Williams, Cody Sexton, Timmy LeComte and Jon Young, got a lot of credit and some pats on the back after the game.
“The guys up front blocked extremely well once we figured out what we were doing and what scheme they (Coalfield) were running against us. Once they figured it out, we were able to make it happen,” Shoemaker praised.
“We had great blocking and everything. That is the best blocking I’ve seen in years,” offered Hamby, who scored both touchdowns behind the blocking of the offensive line.
“Our offensive line was connecting today. Just like quarterbacks and wide receivers do, they connected. They were putting up the blocks and they were doing everything they had to do to win this ball game,” explained Trout, who was only sacked once the whole game.
Coalfield’s 135-yard output was led on the ground by Shawn Armes (12-54). Quarterback Adam Doughty was 12-21 for 92 yards and 3 interceptions passing. Forrest Adkisson (4-40) and Anthony Wilkins (2-19) were the top receivers.
“We were in Wartburg’s scoring zone several times and ended up turning the ball over or penalty would move us back with different mistakes. They (Wartburg) took advantage of those things. A good football team can’t do that. In the last two weeks, we have made more turnovers and penalties than all the scrimmages put together in the fall. The good thing is they are correctable. It doesn’t mean I like them or I like to live with them. We have to get back and get to work and get better for next week,” said Henry.
Wartburg’s defense was powered by Travis Hamby (14 stops, 8 behind the line, 4 sacks, 1 FR), Aaron Hutchison (9 stops, 3 behind the line, 2 sacks), Drew Jenkins (6 stops, 1 INT), Eugene Poole (5 tackles, 1 INT), Adam Spence (5 tackles, 1 INT) and Rusty Phillips (5 tackles, 2 behind the line). Philip Daugherty (1 FR) and Dustin Heidel (1 stop in the backfield) each made a big play on defense.
“The key was being able to stop the run and contain #14 (Shawn Armes). Watching them on film, he was the one that I thought if he got in the open field he is the one that could hurt us. I knew that if we could just keep him in check and under control that we would be fine, and we were able to do that,” said Ellison.
“One way we thought we could force turnovers was bringing pressure to the quarterback with our linebackers. Travis Hamby, our middle linebacker Philip Daugherty and Aaron Hutchison did a great job at that. I noticed on film, that bringing pressure he wasn’t that good under pressure and that forced a couple of bad throws and we got some interceptions.”
Hamby believed the Bulldogs were ready from the start.
“We came out fired up. That is a good thing. That is something that hasn’t been happening around here. We just dominated pretty much. They gained a little bit here and there, but we just stopped them,” said Hamby.
“We faked some blitzes and bounced around and stuff to try and confuse them. We tried to smash it into them.”
The Jackets were paced on defense by Arron Huff (11 tackles, 1 behind the line, 1 INT), Austin Hensley (9 stops), Shawn Armes (8 tackles), T.C. Armes (8 stops), Ryan Armes (7 tackles), Luke Jackson (7 stops), Boone Wilson (6 tackles), Tyler Browning (5 stops) and Forrest Adkisson (5 tackles). Wayne Fletcher (1 FR), Matt Roberts (1 FR) and Blake Farmer (1 sack) each made a big defensive play for Coalfield.
“Coalfield’s defense was alright. They was coming at me hard, I knew that. After coming off a shoulder injury, they was coming at me so I was kind of watching that a little bit, but it is football and you can’t be scared,” said Trout.
Despite an 0-2 start, Henry likes the fight his players have shown the last two weeks.
“I’m proud of the young men that they didn’t quit and they kept getting after it for 48 minutes and that is something we challenged them to do,” said Henry.
Coalfield (0-2) hits the road for the second straight week as they go to Oneida this Friday night to take on the Region 2-A favorite Indians (2-0) in a crucial Region 2-A game.
“We have a tough opening region game this week and we have got to work hard to get better. We’ve got to cut down on our mistakes. We have to work hard and prepare, cut down on turnovers and penalties. We have to give good effort and get after it,” said Henry.
The Bulldogs are off this week before they return to action at home against Harriman next Friday night.
“We’re going to celebrate this weekend. We’re going to enjoy this, because it has been a long time coming,” said Shoemaker.