By David Wagner
Western Albemarle High School opened the 2012 football season August 24 at home against the Albemarle Patriots. Under new head coach Ed Redmond, the Warriors came ready to play.
Western won the toss and chose to kick off to the visiting Patriots. The Western defense was fired up and forced an Albemarle punt after giving up only two yards on three running plays. Albemarle’s punt covered only 26 yards, setting the Warriors up at their own 48 yard line.
On first down quarterback Kent Henry scampered 36 yards to the Albemarle 16. Two plays later Henry found Daniel Kuzjak for a 20-yard touchdown pass. Holland Corbett added the point after and Western led 7-0.
The next quarter and a half proved to be a stalemate as the teams traded possessions. Dante Henry recovered a fumble for the Warriors just before the end of the first quarter and Trevor Harlow made a key interception. Following a failed fake punt attempt by the Warriors, Albemarle took over on downs at the Western 34. Harlow then picked off the Albemarle quarterback, Peyton Alley at the Western 8 yard line, ending the Patriot threat.
After another Warrior punt and a failed fourth down conversion by the Patriots, the Western offense took over at their own 31 yard line. Henry engineered an 11-play, 69-yard touchdown drive including a big play on fourth and three at the Patriot 40 when Henry ran for seven yards and kept the drive alive. Four plays later, Henry hit Nick Drapanas with a 19-yard TD pass and Western took a 14-0 lead into the half.
Drapanas opened the third quarter with a 43-yard kickoff return to midfield. Coach Redmond then went to the ground game. Western reeled off seven straight rushing plays with Henry converting on another fourth down, but the drive stalled. Henry threw twice into the end zone but didn’t connect. Next he was tackled for a two-yard loss. The Warriors tried for a 28-yard field goal, but Corbett just missed to the left.
When AHS took over, running back Nicholas Troche ran for 12 yards and then rambled for 23 more to the Western 40. But the Patriots were flagged for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and ended up back at their 45 yard line. Then Alley connected with wideout Aarron Willy for a 53-yard pass play to the Warrior two yard line. Troche punched it in for a touchdown run, but Western’s Tommy Mullin blocked the extra point kick to keep the score at 14-6 for Western.
Mullin soon came up big for the Warriors again, intercepting a pass from Alley that had been deflected at the line of scrimmage and ending the Patriots’ bid to pull even.
The Warrior offense was ineffective again, though, and with the ball in their hands, AHS head coach Mike Alley decided to go for it on fourthh and three with 10:38 to go in the game. Alley again passed to Aarron Willy, this time for 52 yards to the Western two yard line. Again Troche pounded it in from two yards out. The Patriots couldn’t get the two-point conversion and Western led 14-12.
Albemarle tried an on-side kick, but the Warriors recovered at their own 42. The Western offense came back to life and put together an impressive drive. Henry ran for three yards on first down and then completed his next four passes covering 58 yards. The big play came on an 18-yard completion to Steven Hearn to the Albemarle two yard line. Two plays later Henry ran it in for a 21-12 Warrior lead.
Albemarle then showed great character and came right back at the Warriors. Peyton Alley targeted Willy again for a 23-yard gain to the Western 39, but he was picked off a couple plays later by Hearn and the Patriots’ drive ended.
Albemarle got the ball again with 2:27 to go in the game. The Patriots needed two scores and didn’t have time to waste. After an 8-yard run by Troche and a 5-yard completion to Matthew Crist, the Patriots were within striking distance. But Alley threw his fourth interception of the game, again to Trevor Harlow. It was Albemarle’s fifth turnover of the game. Henry knelt down on the game’s final two plays, giving Western the 21-12 win.
Henry went 9 for 15, passing for 133 yards and two TDs, and had 24 carries for 108 yards and a touchdown. Kuzjak had three catches for 54 yards and a TD. Drapanas had three catches for 45 yards and a TD and Hearn added 3 catches for 35 yards.
After the game Coach Redmond commented on the tough play of the defense and their ability to force big turnovers in the second half. He said the team had a good camp coming into the season and that the coaching staff was placing more emphasis on defense this year, which is already paying dividends.
The Warriors will travel to Liberty (Bealeton) on Sept. 7 and return home to take on Fort Defiance Sept. 14 at 7:30 p.m.
The remainder of the season is:
- Sept. 21 at Spotswood, 7 p.m.
- Sept. 28 at Monticello, 7:30 p.m.
- Oct. 5 Powhatan, 7:30 p.m.
- Oct.12 Charlottesville, 7:30 p.m.
- Oct. 19 at Waynesboro, 7 p.m.
- Oct. 26 at Fluvanna, 7:30 p.m.
- Nov. 2 Louisa, 7:30 p.m.