Heritage's Speed Too Much For James Wood

Posted: August 27, 2016
The Winchester Star

WINCHESTER — Mistakes and turnovers made it a long night for James Wood’s football team in its season opener against Heritage.

The Colonels turned the ball over four times, and Heritage scored on three of its first five offensive series en route to a 34-7 victory over the Colonels at Jerry L. Kelican Stadium on Friday night.

Heritage senior quarterback Alex Carlin threw for 171 yards and a touchdown and added 43 yards rushing and another score to lead the Pride.

The Colonels’ four turnovers (two fumbles, two interceptions) proved to be costly, but so did eight penalties (for 50 yards) that pushed them back into long yardage situations.

"We’ve got to keep the running game going. We had a lot penalties and [four] turnovers, and we can’t do that," said James Wood coach Mark McHale. "They had more speed than we did, and if we’re going to give them that many chances [from turnovers] then they’re going to make big plays."

Heritage’s defense forced the first turnover when James Wood quarterback Dade Carroll was strip-sacked, and Pride linebacker John Wooden recovered the ball at the Wood 32.

Carlin, who threw for 326 yards and five touchdowns and ran for another score in a 55-21 win over Wood in last season’s opener, didn’t waste any time on the Pride’s second possession.

On second-and-10 at the 21, Carlin connected with Tyrique Moss for an 18-yard gain down to the Colonel 3.

Heritage running back Luke Schaub scored from three yards out, and Bryan Henriquez added the extra point to put the Pride ahead 7-0 with 5:29 left in the first quarter.

The Pride defense forced James Wood to punt on its ensuing drive, and Heritage marched down the field once again with its passing game.

Carlin connected with D.J. Hutcherson for 30 yards, and then hit Aaron Maisus for another 28 on the next play to set up the Pride at the Colonels 10.

After a fumble that resulted in a four-yard loss, Carlin scored on a 14-yard keeper off left tackle to push Heritage’s lead to 14-0 with 10:42 left in the first half.

After both teams traded punts, Maisus intercepted Carroll to give Heritage the ball at its own 36 following an illegal block on the interception.

Facing a third-and-3 at Wood 41, Carlin connected with Gio Wooten for a 15-yard gain, and then hit Wooden for another 21 yards on the next play to set up the Pride with a first-and-goal at the Colonel 5.

Carlin’s third straight completion, a 5-yard connection with Wooten, extended the Pride’s lead to 20-0 after Henriquez’s extra-point attempt failed because of botched snap.

Carlin, who completed passes to five different receivers, went 11 of 17 for 162 yards passing in the first half. The Pride quarterback said his teammates were excited to get the season started and it showed with their performance.

"We were pretty revved up in the locker room and we knew we could come out and execute on all cylinders and that’s kind of what we did," said Carlin, the Conference 21 East Player of the Year a season ago. "I thought we played extremely well overall. There’s definitely things to work on, but second half it was kind of just getting some JVs in because we’re up. Overall, I think we did well."

The Colonels first five offensive drives resulted in two turnovers, two punts and a turnover on downs. Heritage outgained James Wood 241-80 in the first half.

"I thought the kids played hard and I thought we got better from scrimmage [No.] 2 to now," said Heritage coach Reed Prosser, who coached at Millbrook from 2006-12. "Coach [Kevin] Copley did a spectacular job getting the defense ready. James Wood does a lot of things that makes it difficult to prepare, but I thought our kids played really hard and with a lot of energy. For the most part, we minimized our mistakes and made some plays on offense and defense."

James Wood’s power-running offense led by senior Isaac Schrantz struggled to keep the chains moving.

The Colonels turned the ball over on their first play of the second half, and their second drive ended after a fumbled pitch on third-and-four that resulted in a seven-yard loss.

Heritage put together a nine-play, 62-yard scoring drive.

Carlin hurt the Colonels with his feet this time, breaking off a 27-yard run to open the drive. Seven plays later on 3rd-and-4 at the Colonel 17, Carlin made a pair of defenders miss on a 12-yard gain down to the James Wood 5.

On the next play, Wooden scored from five yards out to put Heritage ahead 27-0.

The Colonels’ third drive of the second half, Heritage’s Aaron Walsh sacked Dade Carroll for a 10-yard loss. Facing another long-yardage situation, the Colonels punted just three plays later.

The Colonels also struggled with field position with five second-half drives starting inside their own 30.

"We were just behind the chains [most of the time]," McHale said. "We’d have some rhythm going and then fumble or have two penalties in a row. Little penalties that just shouldn’t be there. We’re not the type of team that can make up for that, and it put a lot of pressure on Dade."

Schrantz led the Colonels, rushing for 59 yards on 14 carries.

"We kind of shot ourselves in the foot and kind of defeated ourselves tonight," Schrantz said. "We just had too many penalties and turnovers — especially for our scheme on offense relying on short-yard runs."

The Colonels only score game on special teams. Freshman William Crowder returned a kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown with 4:50 left to play. "They weren’t going to kick it to him, but we made sure [Crowder] got it," McHale said. "He’s on the JV team, but we brought him up to return kicks for us. He’ll help us in the future."

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