By Chris McCarthy, Publisher/Editor
Photo: Westbrook Christian’s Ryan Scott follows the blocking of John Harvey (right) and Brandon Morgan (42) during the Warriors’ 35-0 victory over Vinemont last Friday (Sept. 6) in Rainbow City. (Colin Edwards)
It’s so far, so good for the 2019 Westbrook Christian football team.
After a scoreless first quarter, the Warriors scored touchdowns on four straight possessions on the way to a convincing 35-0 shutout over Vinemont on Friday (Sept. 6) in Rainbow City.
Westbrook is 3-0 for the first time since the 2010 season.
Playing their third straight non-region game, the Warriors dominated on both sides of the ball over the last three quarters. The hosts outgained the Eagles 345 to 114 in total yardage and held Vinemont to 62 yards on the ground.
Following the game’s opening series, the visitors gained only 37 yards, earned just two first downs and failed to cross midfield.
Westbrook head coach Drew Noles said a key to the victory was containing the Eagles running back Dallin Dinkle.
“He gained 227 yards last week [against Falkville], so we had to stop that. [Vinemont] is a big football team, and I’m proud that our kids handled the challenge physically. We still not playing anybody both ways, which allows us to play really fast on offense. I thought that was a big factor tonight.”
Karmichael Cattling spearheaded the Warrior rushing game with 116 yards on 15 carries. Ryan Scott ran seven times for 88 yards and a pair of touchdowns, while Asher Keck added 45 yards on nine carries.
Jai’Shawn Cattling led the Warriors defensively with 10 tackles, followed by John Reece Bellew and Bryce Wood with six each and Will Vice and Carl Henry with five each.
It looked as if the hosts would fall into an early deficit when on the eighth play from scrimmage Vinemont quarterback Jack Hill found Clark Whatley alone and in stride deep in Westbrook territory.
But Clark lost control of the ball as he crossed the goal line, and Scott recovered the fumble in the end, giving the Warriors a first down at their own 20-yard line.
“I’m not really sure what happened when their guy was crossing the goal line,” said Noles. “All I know is that if we didn’t have people hustling, then [Vinemont] picks the ball up.”
The initial Warrior drive ended after five plays when Dinkle intercepted a pass. But Henry’s sack of Hill on fourth down negated the turnover.
A heavy dose of Karmichael Cattling set up the Warriors’ first score. The freshman halfback carried the ball eight times for 47 yards, his last run being a 6-yard TD run at 5:40 of the second quarter. Will Edwards pushed through the first of his five extra points to give the hosts the lead for good.
Westbrook cashed in again following an Eagle three-and-out. A 30-yard punt return by Karmichael Cattling set up the Warriors at the Vinemont 35, and a 25-yard run from Scott put the ball at the 14.
Bellew took it in from the 9 two plays later, pushing the advantage to 14 points with 2:31 remaining in the first half.
On the first play of the next Eagle series, Joe Tucker picked off Hill and returned the ball to the Vinemont 43. Westbrook’s fourth down conversion attempt came up short but the Eagles were flagged for pass interference on the play to extend the Warrior drive.
Scott scored from 25 yards out on the next play with just under a minute left in the half, sending Westbrook into the locker room up 21-0.
The Warriors wasted little time in padding their lead in the second half.
A 30-yard run by Karmichael Cattling on the first play from scrimmage helped set up Scott’s 15-yard touchdown at 10:31 of the third period. Vinemont never made it past its own 42-yard line the rest of the way, and Keck capped off the scoring with a 2-yard touchdown run with 7:09 left in the game.
“Not to take anything away from our first two opponents (Coosa Christian and Ragland), but we knew that this [game] was going to be a fourth-quarter test,” said Noles. “I thought our guys handled that well tonight.”
Westbrook opens its Class 2A, Region 6 schedule this Friday (Sept. 13) at home against West End.