In an early-season MSAC conference clash, the Huntington Highlanders produced just enough offense to come away with a 24-8 victory over a competitive Riverside Warriors team still seeking its first win of the season for new coach Alex Daugherty on Friday night at Warrior Stadium.
“We had some guys out this week due to injuries and disciplinary matters, but let’s give Riverside some credit. They played great.” said Huntington coach Billy Seals. “We played a poor pass-protection game ‘cause they came with blitzes and we just didn’t block.”
The Highlanders took the opening drive straight at the heart of the Warrior defense as Ty Wilcoxon carried six times for 31 yards behind massive senior tackles Darnell Wright and Max Howell, culminating in a 5-yard touchdown for a 7-0 lead.
However, from that point on throughout the rest of the first half, both teams played even. Riverside thwarted a long drive to the 9-yard line when a Tay Blackwell pass was picked off by Riverside’s Kain Ford.
As the second quarter continued, the Warriors continued to gain momentum, scoring a safety by tackling Blackwell in the end zone. The Warriors drew closer at 7-2 with only 70 yards of offense to show for their efforts.
Riverside (0-2) came into the game facing the daunting task of taking down the Highlanders, a 2017 Class AAA semifinalist, who last week knocked off Kentucky power Belfry 17-9 despite several key injuries.
“We teach our kids to play hard every day. We tell our kids to believe in each other and sometimes it’s just the little things and they turn into big things,” said Daugherty. “It’s a process. We have phenomenal players that are buying in to what we are teaching.”
The Highlanders managed two scores in the second half that would be enough to hold off a Warrior team that was trying to gain some momentum.
For the Warriors, Javante Elzy threw for 116 yards to lead his team.
The Highlanders were led by Wilcoxon’s 208 yards on 26 carries.