Spartans 31, War Eagles 0
Difference maker: Tyquan Statham. After having a relatively quiet game in the season opener against Johnson, Statham was given more opportunities to show both his speed and physical ability on the edge. His 11 yards per carry were helpful for the Spartans to continue their long drives.
Stat that matters: Four sacks. Chestatee’s defense couldn’t seem to allow Cates to explore the pocket and make throws to his often-open receivers.
Turning point: Despite stretching for every inch, A.J. Sijiye just couldn’t earn Chestatee's second first down of the half with six minutes left in the second quarter. West Hall’s defensive players punched the air with joy at the fourth-down stop and came out even hungrier after the halftime break.
Who’s next: West Hall hosts North Hall at Spartan Field next week, while Chestatee travels to Pepperell.
West Hall’s Tony Lotti didn’t want his players to get too high on themselves after soundly defeating county rival Chestatee 31-0 Friday night.
But the third-year head coach couldn’t help but grin when he thought about how he was able to use nine capable running backs to rack up 339 rushing yards on the War Eagles (0-2) in the lopsided victory.
It’s an added benefit that he didn’t have to rely on his starters, Kwon Williams and Tyquan Statham, to dominate the end zone.
Sophomore Tyrese Osborne (six rushes, 60 yards) stole the spotlight by barging for two scores, which were preceded by a Cameron Millsap opening run. Statham’s 26-yard scamper late in the third quarter all but sealed an important victory for the Spartans (2-0).
“I feel very comfortable about the backs we’ve been able to cultivate,” Lotti said. “Tyrese is a very talented back himself, but so is everyone else we’ve been able to play. I’m excited to get us to this perfect rotation system, so we can rest (Williams) and (Statham).”
West Hall scored at least once in each half to defeat the War Eagles for the first time in four years and the first time at Spartan Field since 2004.
Chestatee could muster only 14 rushing yards while losing two fumbles and allowing quarterback Logan Cates to be sacked four times.
Making and maintaining healthy drives was a consistent problem for the visitors, who could only gain five first downs throughout the game. Taking an early chance on fourth-and-1 in the first quarter proved fruitless when Cameron Millsap forced a Chestatee fumble on Cates’ handoff.
It was Millsap who capitalized five minutes later on a seven-play, 51-yard drive. His 3-yard run opened up the scoring and raised questions for Chestatee coach Bill Forman.
“We had kids in position who just couldn’t seem to make a tackle,” he said. “I’ll be working on that in practice, I can tell you that.”
Williams (8 rushes for 72 yards) burst through the right channel for a 33-yard gain to set up the much more manageable touchdown run for Osborne inside the second quarter. Where Williams and Statham found yardage by outrunning corners on the edge, Osborne used his quick speed to surprise Forman’s linebackers.
Osborne showed his ability to elude defenders when he broke a tackle before hugging the right sideline for a 41-yard rushing score to extend the lead to 21-0 just after the halftime break.
Chestatee never broke inside the Spartans’ 30-yard line on Friday night. It didn’t help when West Hall’s Justin Derico forced the second Chestatee fumble of the night in War Eagle territory. It only took five plays for Statham to sneak outside the left hash and use his teammate’s blocks for West Hall’s fourth and final touchdown of the night.
“I think what’s a hidden fact in that is that we never really gave Chestatee that good of field position,” Lotti said. “If you make them play on a long field, it’s a much better chance they’ll get into trouble.”
By the time Bradley Hodgson converted a 30-yard field goal with 7:39 left in the game, the West Hall bench was celebrating a victory long since sealed.
Malcolm Prather, Jay Crawford and Darius Blair all picked up at least 5-yard gains in the win, which will give an additional boost of confidence as West Hall nears closer to region play.
That’s always been the focus, according to Lotti. If he can keep his starters as fresh as possible before then, it’s just gravy.
“I’ve told them, I want you to play hard for 48 minutes and we’ll just let the chips fall where they may,” he said. “So far, they’ve fallen our way each time. We’re not ready to get too excited just yet. It’s two games and we’ve got a long way to go.”