Western Faces Challenges in Defending District Title

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By Jerry Reid

becerra-weyher_13_17Western Albemarle’s home opening game August 26 was a bright success as the Warriors crushed Broadway 40-0, but two away losses came after that. Brookville manhandled the Warriors 41-7 and Spotswood sent them home with a 28-14 loss.

After the opener against Broadway, Coach Ed Redmond, in his 36th year of coaching, wasn’t about to get carried away by butterflies or jitters. But a couple of things no doubt get his attention—the District is loaded with talent this year, and his squad is defending their 2015 title.

“You try to build as much depth as you can,” Redmond said of his players, who get plenty reps on both sides of the ball this year. Last year saw a few who played just one side. “Right now we’ve got our guys out there playing two ways and the goal is to get more guys on the field and get them experience,” he said of the Western culture of having players ready to step up.

WAHS rebounded after those losses with a 29-15 Jefferson District victory against Monticello September 23. That home game had all of the trappings of a rivalry match, filling the stands with vociferous Crozet Crazies, parents and friends. A sizable contingent of Monticello fans found their way to Crozet also.

From the opening kickoff there was a sense of urgency. Monticello received the kickoff, and after Jarret Smith sacked Mustangs’ quarterback Kevin Jarrell, they punted. WAHS started on their five yard line, and a well-executed pass and run combo by Derek Domecq and wide receiver Jack Weyher gave the Warriors breathing room at the 39. The ground grind then began chewing up the clock, and Domecq was carrying the load. The first quarter ended with WAHS fourth and goal at the one yard line, and Domecq punched the ball in for a 7-0 lead as the second quarter began.

Monticello had a dismal series on their first try in the second quarter. Pressure from Robert Sims created an incompletion while Noah Crutchfield, Luke Tenuta, Aidan Saunders and the rest of the Warriors defense shut them down quickly. Western next recovered a fumble at the Mustangs’ 26 yard line. The Warriors reached the 8 yard line, but a holding penalty, a tackle for a loss, a dropped pass and a fumble lost at the 5 put an end to this effort by Tai Atuaia, Domecq, Weyher and Darren Klein.

Monticello had another dismal series and another sack by Smith forced a punt. Starting at the Mustangs’ 31, Domecq hit Victor Becerra on an 11-yard touchdown pass, and connected on a two-point conversion pass to Klein. Domecq scrambling out of harm’s way during on this drive was key to the 15-0 lead. With time running out, Monticello mounted a serious drive, aided by penalties, but was finally stopped when Weyher acrobatically picked off a Jarrell pass in the end zone.

The Mustangs took the second half kickoff, and thanks to stout defense by James Buetow, Trev Awkard and a sack by Crutchfield, they went nowhere. The Warriors were no better on their first drive of the half, stymied by penalties, and at one point a big collision left Smith and Weyher lying on the turf. Both were banged up a bit and the Warriors were forced to punt. Monticello wouldn’t take no for an answer on this series, and Jarrell launched a pass to Reid Huffman that created a 73-yard touchdown run against four defenders.

The score tightened at 15-7 with 6:16 left in the third period, but neither team could make anything happen on their next possessions. Late in the third period the Warriors exploded behind good blocking and protection by Ryan Adcock, Noah Yourkavitch and friends for two big pass plays. The first covered 24 yards to Weyher, who finished the night with 100 total receiving yards. The second was a and 51-yard bomb to Becerra, who racked up 105 yards through the air. They set up a 4-yard run for the score by Domecq.

With 10:52 left in the game, Klein scored from the six yard line after breaking off a dazzling 37-yard run, along with a Domecq to Becerra pass play, that took the score to 29-7. Good defense was the rule for the rest of the game, except for a breakdown allowed a Jarrell to Huffman repeat of their earlier success, resulting in a 41-yard pass for a TD and a final score 29-14.

Last Friday, the Warriors went to Powhatan in another District matchup. With the Indians showing the strength that is evidently abundant in many district teams this season, they dropped a district game for the first time in two years by a 27-13 score. Out-run 489 yards to 128, Western couldn’t make up the difference through passing, converting just one of 12 third-down plays.

Five more District games remain on the schedule starting at Orange this Friday and ending Nov. 4 at Albemarle.

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