WHEELING - It does not matter who you are or who you are playing, short drives and big plays are normally going to lead to a very successful outcome.
That was the case for Wheeling Park on Friday night as the Patriots scored early, often and in most cases quickly against a mistake-prone East Liverpool squad.
Senior quarterback Zach Phillips fired three touchdowns passes, while classmate Bryce Ingram rushed for two as the Patriots scored 45 halftime points and never looked back in cruising to blistering 52-0 victory against the Potters on a "Pink Out" night at Wheeling Island Stadium.
Wheeling Park’s Savion Johnson (21) gets a block from teammate Austin Vance (10) on Friday night against East Liverpool.
Photo by Alex Kozlowski
The victory not only keeps Coach Chris Daugherty's club's record spotless at 5-0, it sets up a major W.Va. Class AAA showdown next Friday in Morgantown against the once-beaten Mohigans.
"Our kids are very excited about going there next week," Daugherty said. "We feel like it is going to be one of the bigger matchups in the state, and I am sure they are as excited about it as we are.
"We have played some great games against them in the past and I am sure next week will be another one."
It didn't take Park long to get rolling Friday night, taking over at the Potters' 40 after a flubbed on-side kick attempt and needing one offensive play to find the end zone. Phillips took a quick drop and lofted a 40-yard scoring strike down the right sideline to Eric Banks eight ticks into the contest.
But the Patriots, who had three first-quarter scoring drives and another that ended on the first play of the second quarter, were just getting started. Wheeling Park's worst starting position of the first quarter came following an Elijah Bell interception at his 40.
That drive was kicked off by a 53-yard Ingram dash that put the ball inside the East Liverpool 10. Three plays later, Ingram busted in from a yard away with nine minutes showing to make it 14-0.
Following a Liam Casey 37-yard field goal that made it 17-0, the Patriots put another good march together that culminated with Ingram racing in from 14 yards out on the first play of the second quarter to push the margin to 24-0.
Daugherty's gang used another big play to make it five scores on five drives at 9:13 of the second. Taking over at his own 30, Phillips dropped back to pass, was chased out of the pocket and eventually found Banks streaking down the sideline for a 66-yard gainer to the Potters 4.
On the next play, Phillips found Michael Grove over the middle for a touchdown and a 31-0 lead.
Another short drive, this time from 32 yards away, equated to another touchdown for Park at 4:10 of the second on an 8-yard strike from Phillips to Chalmer Moffett.
The Patriots finished off a perfect first half on offense with five seconds showing when sophomore Savion Johnson danced into the end zone on a 23-yard run to make it 45. It was the seventh scoring drive in as many possessions and put the Park at 310 yards for the half.
Sophomore Nick Nardone's fourth-quarter touchdown run provided the only scoring of the second half.
"We really just kind of click everywhere," Daugherty said. "I think we did a good job both running and throwing the football, and if you can mix it up like that it doesn't matter if you are playing on Friday, Saturday or Sunday good things will happen.
"It was also another great game defensively for us. I was also very proud of our second teams, which played the entire second half. We did not allow them into the end zone and we added a touchdown late. It was just a great team win and I am very proud of these kids right now."