Knights dominate Red Riders

Knights dominate Red Riders

Image Credit: Justin Smith

The West Holmes Knights left little doubt as to the victor when they traveled to Orrville to take on the Red Riders under the Friday night lights on Aug. 26.

It was just a matter of how wide the margin was going to be.

West Holmes stormed out of the gates, never looked back, built a 44-0 half-time cushion and rolled to a 51-14 victory that saw WHHS improve to 2-0 while the Red Riders fell to 0-2.

“We made some adjustments from game one,” said Zach Gardner, WHHS head coach. “We focused more on doing what we were supposed to be doing and not trying to do too much.”

Once again as was the case in their opening win over Triway, defense and special teams played a pivotal role in West Holmes building the lead, with Zevin Proper making a pair of interceptions and the defensive line wreaking havoc on the Red Riders backfield.

The Knights opened the game by marching down the field in a picture-perfect effort that concluded when Mason Wolfe found Kyle Maltarich in the corner of the end zone for a 7-0 lead after Nick Ginsburg knocked home the extra point.

After stopping the Red Riders, head coach Zach Gardner put the ball in the hands of All-Ohio running back Sam Williams-Dixon, who reeled off runs of 26 and 12 yards to the Orrville 16-yard line. Wolfe then hit Maltarich on a bubble screen, and he made a spin move, juked by two defenders and bolted into the end zone to make it 14-0.

“We take pride in distributing the ball, and we got a lot of guys involved early on,” Gardner said.

Within the game’s first three minutes, the Knights had seized control, and things were about to get worse for Orrville.

After the Red Riders moved the ball out to near midfield, Elisha Baldridge and Collin Gardner teamed up for a huge sack, and one play later Gardner and Jack Marmet crashed through for another, forcing an Orrville punt. The ensuing snap sailed over the head of the punter and through the end zone for a safety, making it 16-0.

There would be one more highlight in the first quarter. Orrville took over, moved the ball and threatened to put up points; however, Zevin Proper stepped in front of a pass, picked it off and went 80 yards for a defensive touchdown that made it 23-0, completing WHHS’s near-perfect first quarter.

Williams-Dixon would slam in from 8 yards out in the second quarter, and the Knights would get a stop midway through the period, setting up an electrifying drive that consumed all of one play. Wolfe hit Logan Zollars, who raced 72 yards for a score to make it 37-0.

Again, the Red Riders would gain yards and move the ball, but Maltarich stopped that effort with an interception deep into West Holmes territory. The speedy defensive back took flight, rolling 33 yards to the West Holmes 45-yard line with just a few seconds left.

West Holmes wouldn’t waste those precious seconds.

Wolfe took advantage of the turnover immediately, hitting Maltarich on a long pass play to the Orrville 7-yard line. He then found Maltarich again, connecting on a TD pass to end the half, pushing the lead to 44-0.

“Regardless of what the score is, you want to work on things like the two-minute drill early in the season under game situations, and we did a tremendous job with the clock we had,” Gardner said.

As for the contributions of Maltarich, Gardner said people are realizing the type of talent this team missed after he was injured in the early going last season.

“He’s a special talent, a tough kid to defend because he’s tall and lanky, but he’s just afootball player,” Gardner said of Maltarich.

In the third quarter, the special teams would get into the action, blocking an Orrville field goal attempt. The tumbling football would be snatched up by Zollars, who was off to the races, churning out an 80-yard touchdown.

The running clock in the second half made short time for the game clock, and with a 51-0 lead, Gardner had opportunity to get everyone playing time. Orrville would score on a pick-six by Ethan Brede and would score late to cap off the game.