Messenger file photo by Colin Edwards
By Cole Frederick/Sports Correspondent
Westbrook Christian waltzed past West End, 63-29, to open Class 2A, Region 6 play on Friday (Sept. 13) at Jack Osborn Stadium in Rainbow City.
Westbrook forced West End’s potent offense to punt on its opening drive, and the Warriors (4-0, 1-0) quickly scored their first touchdown of the night on a 39-yard pass from Will Noles to Ryan Scott to take a 7-0 lead with 9:57 remaining in the first quarter.
Will Noles to Ryan Scott to take a 7-0 lead with 9:57 remaining in the first quarter.
Later in the opening frame, a screen pass from West End quarterback Eli Pearce to running back Isaiah Roberson set up a 41-yard field goal from Mason Barnett to close the gap to 7-3 with 4:11 on the clock. However, that’s as close as the Patriots (0-4, 0-2) would get for the remainder of the night.
Noles threw his second touchdown of the night to Quinn Morrison for a 48-yard score to extend the lead to 14-3 with 2:01 left in the first. After forcing another stop, the Warriors took over again, and Noles found Joe Tucker for an 18-yard strike with 41 seconds left in the first to push the lead to 21-3.
West End threatened to score on the following drive, but the Warriors stuffed Pearce on 4th-and-1 from the 13-yard line. A physical, assertive drive for Westbrook culminated with a 5-yard touchdown run by Caiden Wyatt with 8:30 left in the second quarter to stretch the lead to 28-3. After forcing another punt, Westbrook scored on a 1-yard quarterback sneak from Noles to give the Warriors a 35-3 advantage with 5:26 left until halftime.
Westbrook’s defense forced another stop, but Noles was strip sacked deep in his own territory, and West End’s Adam Bates scooped the ball and scored to cut into the lead with less than five minutes remaining. However, on the ensuing kickoff, Westbrook’s KarMichael Cattling (pictured above) sprinted 90 yards down the sideline for a touchdown to push the lead to 42-9 with 4:11 left in the first half.
The scoring barrage didn’t stop there. Pearce found Bates for two big plays on the Patriots’ next drive, and the two connected for a 10-yard touchdown to trim the margin to 42-15 with 1:39 remaining in the second. Westbrook went to its hurry-up offense as the half came to a close, and they settled for what appeared to be a 33-yard field goal with eight seconds left in the half. However, head coach Drew Noles dialed up a fake field goal, and Wyatt tossed a 16-yard touchdown pass to John Reese Bellew for the half’s final score as the Warriors took a 49-15 lead into the locker room.
The second half wasn’t quite as action-packed, especially after the Warriors marched down the field on their opening drive of the half and scored on a 4-yard run by Noles to extend the lead to 56-15. West End added a score on a 3-yard pass from Pearce to Jeremiah Roberson, and Pearce found Trevor Willet for the two-point conversion to trim the lead to 56-23 with 1:34 left in the third.
Cattling scored his second touchdown of the night early in the fourth quarter on an 8-yard run to push the lead to 63-23, and Pearce threw his third touchdown of the evening late in the fourth quarter to Willett for the final count of 63-29.
Drew Noles said it was good for his team to see an offense with West End’s passing attack, and he felt like his defense handled it well.
“We’ve expanded tremendously (defensively) since the first week,” Noles said. “We’re doing a lot of stuff and introduced a new defense to them Monday, and we did a pretty good job of handling that. We were still able to be physical even though it was a high scoring ball game.”
The Warriors travel to take on Ohatchee next Friday in a pivotal Region 6 matchup between two undefeated teams. Noles said he hasn’t seen Ohatchee on film yet, but he knows it will be a challenge for his squad against the third-ranked Indians.
“We’ll start working on (Ohatchee) tonight,” he said. “I know they’re a great program and great team. We have tremendous respect for them. It’s an opportunity for us to go down there, and we’re excited about the challenge.”
Cattling finished with 158 yards rushing and a score in addition to his kickoff return touchdown. Noles was 4-for-7 for 78 yards and three touchdowns, and he also ran for two scores. Kicker Will Edwards was 8-for-8 on extra points, and Jai’Shawn Cattling recorded 16 tackles.
West End has an open week next Friday before taking on Ragland (Sept. 27), and head coach Kyle Davis said it will be a good opportunity for his team to regroup as they enter the second half of the season.
“This off week is going to be good for us to regroup and go over some things we’re not doing well right now,” Davis said. “Defensively, we’re looking okay at times, and we’re getting them in third downs, but then we miss plays and miss tackles. I think the guys are trying hard, and they’re working hard, it’s just not clicking yet. We’ve got six games left to get better, and that’s what we’re going to do.
“We just have to keep fighting. We’ve got a couple of injuries. We’ve got a guy out for the season, and we had a couple of suspensions. We were down to 14 guys, and we were gassed. But nobody feels sorry for you in this league. You’ve got to suck it up and go, and our guys have to learn to keep battling. Sometimes I think we’re right there on the cusp of seeing it and understanding it, but then sometimes we really fall back.”