Knights show flashes of ‘the hype’ in downing Titans 41-7

Knights show flashes of ‘the hype’ in downing Titans 41-7

Image Credit: Justin Smith

West Holmes’ season-opening 41-7 victory over Triway on the gridiron at Triway High School on Aug. 20 wasn’t as easy as the final score might show, and WHHS showed glimpses of greatness in the midst of some areas of struggle. Overall, it was a nice defensive effort for Zach Gardner’s crew.

Gardner said his team seemed too amped up and overly aggressive, something that paved the way for nine penalties for 73 yards, but once West Holmes got rolling in the second half, the Knights seemed to settle in and adjusted after Gardner and the staff provided some half-time insight.

There was plenty to take away from this back-yard rivalry.

SWD doesn’t have
to dominate

These early season games are great for providing insight into questions coming into a new season. One of those was would the Knights have to have Sam Williams-Dixon dominate play to produce prolific offensive output?

The answer is a strong no.

While Williams-Dixon was very involved in both the running game and passing game, the Knights produced yards in numerous ways without him, which is a great sign, because the more they can utilize other aspects of the game, the more it is going to free up Williams-Dixon to become even more effective.

Dixon ended the night with 107 rushing yards on 18 carries, showed quickness and the ability to lower his shoulder, and was very involved in the passing game too.

Wolfe can sling it

The Knights split the game plan evenly between the run-pass selections, and senior Mason Wolfe threw for 241 yards and a pair of TDs on 17-of-29 passing. After Wolfe provided a glimpse at his talent in filling in for All-Ohioan Noah Clark in one playoff game last season, there were questions included in cautious optimism. Wolfe answered all of those questions with a strong performance that showed plenty of poise in the pocket, an ability to move around and escape pressure, and a strong arm.

Zevin Proper is a
two-way threat

Knights wide receiver/defensive back Zevin Proper was all over the field and heavily involved on both sides of the ball. He proved to be a valuable tool as a possession receiver and made a ton of tackles while playing well in coverage.

Elisha Baldridge is a
major presence

OK, Baldridge patrolling the middle of the field from his linebacker spot doesn’t come as a surprise to anyone who watched him dominate last season, but he did a superb job in shadowing gifted Triway quarterback Zach Miller all night. After Miller stung the Knights a few times with his feet, Baldridge shadowed the quarterback and completely took away the run portion of his game, adding one more quality to his impressive resume.

Zach Miller is as good
as advertised

Speaking of Miller, he showed all of the poise and ability a coach would want in a quarterback. Miller can hoist it, and he can win games with his arm and his feet, and he’s a pretty solid defensive back as well. Asking him to start against a Knights’ team that has its attention firmly focused on some very big things this year was a tall task out of the gate. By the end of this season, Miller will definitely turn some heads. For the game he was 24-of-44 for 179 yards versus a stout Knights defense.

This wasn’t a running clock game

By the end of this contest, West Holmes had flicked on the running clock a team gets when it leads by 30 or more points. For the majority of this contest, it certainly felt like anything but that.

The game was tied at 7-all after one quarter, and the Knights led 14-7 at the half. The Knights pushed the lead to 21-7 on their opening drive of the second quarter when Wolfe hit Proper on a pair of long gainers before finding Kyle Maltarich wide open in the corner of the end zone.

But the Titans drove inside the Knights’ 10 before coming up inches shy on fourth down. Had Triway scored there, who knows where the game would have gone?

Instead, Baldridge stepped in and made a huge stop. After Triway’s defense came up big, the Titans had three deep balls that just missed the mark. Still 21-7 through three quarters, the Knights seemed to wear down the Titans in the fourth, where Williams-Dixon took over for a score and West Holmes never looked back.

A defensive lineman’s dream come true

After a Wolfe to Maltarich 16-yard touchdown strike put the Knights in command at 34-7, Collin Gardner added the exclamation point.

WHHS forced a Triway punt at its own 20. Collin Gardner broke through the line, blocked Miller’s punt, kept moving forward, gobbled it up on the bounce and rambled the final 14 yards for the touchdown. That is the thing of a lineman’s dreams.

Nick Ginsberg is a weapon

Yes, SWD and Wolfe will get a lot of pub this season in leading the Knights offense, but don’t overlook the leg of kicker Nick Ginsburg. The senior kicker consistently mashes kick-offs into the end zone, where they aren’t returned, eliminating the threat of a big play, which the Knights didn’t allow all game.

While Triway crushed through to block a Ginsburg field goal attempt near the half, Ginsburg showed off a strong leg that will be a huge asset.

Triway is going to win plenty of games

Drawing a Div. IV team that is considered a possible title contender is a tough way to start the football season, but the Titans played good football through three-plus quarters before faltering. With Miller and his golden arm leading the way, Triway looks poised to win plenty of game this season as it settles in to a more favorable schedule moving forward.