WEST MADISON — All offseason long, Winfield coach Craig Snyder insisted that the Generals weren’t changing much, if anything, even after quarterback Andrew Huff graduated after starting 37 games in four years.
Maybe everyone should start listening.
Certainly not much looked different, including the final result, as Winfield controlled the line of scrimmage and punished Sissonville 30-0 in the opener of the Cardinal Conference Grid-o-rama on Saturday in the driving rain at Scott High School.
Teams traded off 10-play possessions for the most part, with a couple down-and-distance drives in the middle. A 75-minute running clock was implemented for each game as all 10 league teams squared off against one another.
Neither Sissonville nor Winfield went anywhere on their opening drives with the rain wreaking havoc on ball security and the passing game. But after the first series the Generals got going, riding their signature misdirection power running game that rolled up 262 yards on 42 carries. Sissonville, meanwhile, was limited to 38 yards rushing and completed just 5 of 15 passes for 45 yards with the Generals swarming in the Indians backfield throughout.
“I thought we did what we wanted to do for the most part,” Winfield coach Craig Snyder said. “We had planned to spread it out and throw it more, but in the conditions it would’ve been a waste of time.
“We’re big up front and we were without a starter. We’re still pretty similar to what we were a year ago, but we’ve got a ways to go in terms of execution.”
Saturday’s result, especially in adverse weather, likely isn’t a direct representation of where both teams are, and it’s the Indians who have arguably received more preseason buzz with quarterback Will Hackney back to lead what was an explosive offense a year ago.
But Sissonville coach Marc Wilson admitted the Indians were dealt a bit of a wake-up call on Saturday after turning the ball over four times, recovering two of its own fumbles and getting hit with six pre-snap penalties.
“If we put the ball on the ground, we won’t win a lot of games, it’s as simple as that,” Wilson said. “Our [defensive] line got their butts kicked. We got tired and just kind of leaned on people instead of blocking. It was just poor football, all around.”
John Covert led the rushing attack for Winfield, picking up 118 yards on 21 carries, including a 7-yard touchdown run to start the scoring. He and the rest of the Generals backs found running lanes behind an offensive line led by the likes of Jacob Huff, Johnny Trail, Kadin Jarrouj, James Shingleton and Devin Childers.
Matthew Atkinson came up with a 32-yard interception return for the Generals for the game’s second touchdown. Sam Ingram later hauled in an 11-yard pass from Nick Vance and Carter Perry completed the scoring with an 8-yard scamper.
Hackney, under duress for the majority of his drives, completed just 3 of 9 passes for 41 yards and was picked off once.
n It’s not hard to see a difference in Poca as the Dots rolled out 50 uniformed players Saturday and looked bigger, stronger and faster than in recent seasons.
The Dots came out with their hair on fire, sparked by a 68-yard touchdown run from Ethan Payne, and were able to hold on for a 13-6 win over Herbert Hoover in the day’s second scrimmage.
However, Poca coach Seth Ramsey saw his team sputter a bit offensively after a fast start that saw the Dots claim a 13-0 lead after a 32-yard pass from James Cook to Owen McClanahan.
Yet while offensively, the Dots struggled to finish strong, the defense held Hoover out of the end zone on three straight possessions that started in Poca territory late in the game.
While final scores matter little in scrimmages, Ramsey admitted it was nice to see his defense rise to the challenge late, something it will have to do for the Dots to build on a 2-8 campaign a year ago.
“They did a good job,” Ramsey said. “We had a little trouble with our [I-formation] discipline and some of the things they were doing with their veer, but we rallied around a little bit and made the plays we needed to make. Overall, I was pleased with how the day went. Guys played hard and we saw some guys do some things we were wanting to see.”
n Like Winfield, Hoover was able to make some nice adjustments to compensate for the weather, and its offense found some life after struggling trying to throw the ball.
The option/veer offense has been a staple of the Huskies for years, but coach Tim Meyer has recently made more of an effort to become more multiple on offense.
Still, as Saturday proved, when the going gets tough, Hoover can get going behind its staple rushing attack.
“That’s what we do,” Meyer said. “We do it every day in practice so, obviously, we should be able to fall back on that. That’s one of those things, you come out in scrimmages you try to work on some new wrinkles that you’re throwing into the offense, and then things aren’t working out for us we go back to what we feel like we do well.
“I feel like we made a big improvement [from a scrimmage against Riverside last week]. I think our kids played a heck of a lot better and harder. More consistency.”