Wheeling Central Cruises Past East Hardy

McGhee III and Creighton form big connection

Photo by Alex Kozlowski Wheeling Central’s Jordan Waterhouse runs the ball as East Hardy’s Nathan Phillips goes in for a tackle. Waterhouse had his best game to date as he compiled 134 total yards for the Maroon Knights.

WHEELING — After watching his team suffer a 47-7 mercy-rule defeat at the hands of West Virginia Class A No. 1 Wheeling Central on Friday night at Bishop Schmitt Field, East Hardy coach Devon Orndorff made no bones about it. The Maroon Knights (3-0), who are the defending state champions, are by his estimation going to be difficult to keep from a second straight title.

”Our standard is a loss is never acceptable, but seeing almost six sophomores and a couple freshmen play and compete with the best team in the state at least for a while, I was pleased with that aspect of the game,” Orndorff said. ”I believe they are the best team.

”I think Week 1 (a 33-0 road victory against Williamstown), in my opinion, they played the second-best team. But Doddridge is showing a lot right now. We’ll find some things out as we go along.”

The Cougars (0-3) seemed to have the mindset of taking away Central speedster Bray Price, but had mixed results. He still finished with 112 yards of total offense and a pair of scores, but other guys hurt even more.

Jalen Creighton had a career night with seven catches, 106 yards and a pair of touchdowns — 85 and 13 yards — and sophomore Jordan Waterhouse had his best game to date with 134 total yards — 74 receiving, 60 rushing.

Oh, and Curtis McGhee III completed 15 of 19 for 322 yards and four touchdowns to three different receivers, in what was perhaps his best performance of many in a Central uniform.

”We try to look at it in terms of what they’re taking away, we have the alternative,” Knights coach Mike Young said.

”If you’re not running the power with Vinny (Mangino), you’re swinging it out to Bray or running it off-tackle with Curtis based on what their reads are and what (the opponent) is scheming.

”If they overload Bray too much, we’ve got the backside. If they overload the backside too much, we’ve got counters, reverses, misdirections and things like that.

”If our line continues to get better, which we have to, and our defense continues to play as aggressive, which I think they will … .”

Speaking of that ”Landsharks” defense, it has not allowed a point this season. The lone East Hardy score came on a 21-yard fumble return by Adam Larson as a Central player lost the football running back a punt. The Cougars were held to 43 yards — minus-30 rushing — and five first downs.

East Hardy quarterback Aden Funkhouser was under constant pressure including a trio of sacks by Anthony Robbins. Despite the punishment, Funkhouser hung in there and took one shot after another in throwing for 78 yards.

”He’s a first-year quarterback for us and he’s an all-state defensive back, so he’s not in his true position but he’s a leader,” Orndorff said. ”We came into the offseason with a quarterback void and he said ‘give me the ball and I will do it. Just teach me.’

”He’s not 100-percent comfortable with it yet, but he’s a tough one.”

Despite holding a 238-26 advantage in total yards during the first half, Central only led 21-7 on the strength of a 7-yard McGhee run, an 8-yarder from Price and a connection between the two that covered 73 yards on a third-and-14 screen pass.

The third quarter was a different story, however. The Maroon Knights put 26 points on the board, aided in part by an interception by Payton Marling.

McGhee found Creighton who split two defenders and did most of the work on an 85-yard score. Five plays after the Marling pick, McGhee connected with Creighton again from 13 yards.

Waterhouse then made several Cougars miss on a middle screen and took it 74 yards for a touchdown. The final score came as second-string quarterback Jacob Rine went around left end on a keeper for a 21-yard touchdown.

”With the exception of the fumble on the punt and them scoring, I thought we had a pretty good defensive scheme against them,” Young said. ”The catch Creighton made between two guys and kept going and the screen over to Bray and he’s gone, things like that are explosive plays that cause you to wonder.

”I’m proud of our kids and I think we’re better than we were last week. We’re off for two weeks so we’ve got to get ready for Fayetteville.”

Mangino was a moose early, picking up 51 yards on the Knights’ first drive. He finished with 66 on six carries.

Wheeling Central 47, East Hardy 7

East Hardy 0 7 0 0 — 7

Wheeling Central 14 7 26 0 — 47

W — McGhee III 7 run (Rine kick), 10:50

W — Price 8 run (Rine kick), :30

E — Larson 21 fumble return (Funkhouser kick), 9:46

W — Price 73 pass from McGhee III (Rine kick), 4:41

W — Creighton 85 pass from McGhee III (kick blocked), 9:07

W — Creighton 13 pass from McGhee III (Rine kick), 6:51

W — Waterhouse 74 pass from McGhee III (Rine kick), 5:00

W — Rine 21 run (kick failed), 10.5

Rushing: East Hardy 22-(-35) (Alt 4-11, Swanson 2-1, Cha.Dove 2-(-4), Chr.Dove 1-(-4), Iman 3(-9), Funkhouser 10-(-30). Wheeling Central 39-210-3td (Mangino 6-66, Waterhouse 5-60, McGhee 11-37-td, Rine 2-25-td, Turner 3-20, Price 4-19-td, Anderson 2-6, Johnson 2-5, Team 4-(-28).

Passing: East Hardy 5-17-78-2x (Funkhouser 5-16-78-2x, Swanson 0-1). Wheeling Central 15-19-322-4td-x (all by McGhee III).

Receiving: East Hardy 5-78 (Tharp 3-44, Cha.Dove 1-30, Larson 1-4). Wheeling Central 15-322-4td (Price 6-93-td, Creighton 3-106-2td, Robbinso 2-23, Marling 2-12, Waterhouse 1-74, Sherman 1-18).

First Downs: East Hardy 5, Wheeling Central 19.

Penalties: East Hardy 3-10, Wheeling Central 8-60.

Fumbles: East Hardy 0-0, Wheeling Central 1-1.

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