Westview shocks Southridge, takes possesion of second place in Metro

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Westview tight end Tegan Lind and running back Henry Sundin celebrate Linds game-tying touchdown in the first quarter of the Wildcats win over Southridge.

The Westview football team walked off the Southridge football field standing no taller than their original, listed heights.

Quarterback Austin Brisbee was still 6-foot-3. Tight ends Ian Meyers and Teagan Lind were both 6-foot-4 and 6-foot-5, respectively. Wide receivers Kyle Cox and Jacob Sturtevant stood at 6-foot apiece.

But, make no mistake, the Wildcats had grown considerably on an intense Friday night against the seventh-ranked team in 6A. In a cauldron of noise and pressure, Westview faced its demons and stuck a searing spear in them.

The squad that was picked to finish dead last in the preseason Metro League coaches’ poll, shocked each evaluator by upsetting Southridge, 42-41 on Friday night.

Cox said Westview was “well aware” most had predicted Southridge would run away with the win. What the critics and casual observers didn’t understand was this isn’t the same Westview team that’d tuck-and-run at the first sign of trouble. This Wildcat team had some fangs, not to mention a boatload of gumption and unflappability.

Is Westview really sitting in sole possesion of second place in the Metro League? You better believe it.

“Maybe they need to do some more research on us because we’re for real this year,” said Cox. “We just have fight, and we keep fighting. And, after you get a couple of wins like this, that we didn’t get last year, you get confidence. When we have confidence on top of fight, we’re a hard team to stop.”

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Westview quarterback Austin Brisbee makes his way into the end zone for a 5-yard touchdown run in the first quarter of the Wildcats 42-41 over Southridge.

Keep the fight

“Our motto this year is ‘Turn it around’,” said Lind. “The last couple years, we’ve struggled hard. This year, we’re really coming together as a team, and that’s probably the biggest thing. We’re trying to turn this around and do what we can to build this program.”

“This year, we’re fighters,” said Meyers. “We’ve had three come-from-behind wins this season — just fighting every week to get a win. (The Metro coaches in the preseason poll) said we were going to be in last place, but nobody on our team believed that. Now, we’re in second place.”

Southridge had gone ahead 35-34 on a Jacob Pruitt 28-yard touchdown run with 6:27 to go in the fourth quarter, seemingly completing an improbable 20-point comeback that began in the third when the Skyhawks trailed 34-14.

Westview was 82 yards away from pay dirt when the offense took the field, down one, second place in Metro on the line. All Brisbee and the Wildcat offense did was storm down the gridiron — hitting Meyers twice for 35 yards and taking advantage of two back-breaking Southridge penalties — before Sturtevant took a fly sweep on three and goal around the right side for the go-ahead, 3-yard touchdown with 3:54 left in the fourth quarter. Sturtevant also caught Brisbee’s crucial two-point conversion to go up 42-35.

“Austin’s just a great quarterback, he’s so composed back there,” said Sturtevant. “He was able to find receivers, and the line gave him some good time back in the pocket.”

Sturtevant said the two-point play wasn’t designed to come his way, but he found an open space near the pylon and was able to scoop the knee-high offering from Brisbee for the crucial conversion.

“We’re so resilient,” said Sturtevant. “We’ve been working all summer-long, all during the fall, and it’s just great that we’re able to do this. But, it’s not a surprise. Our offense is incredible, the way we drove down the field like that. We’d been here before, so we knew we could do it. It was just a matter of putting in the work.”

Game-winning drive by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Westview linebacker Matt Lyon wraps up Southridges Jordan Morgan in the open field.

It wasn’t the first time this season Westview needed to put together a game-winning drive. In fact, the Wildcats have three come-from-behind victories this season with Brisbee at the helm. But never had the Wildcats had one of this magnitude.

“That’s what our offense is designed to do, score quickly,” said Lind, who caught five passes for 80 yards. “That’s what we’ve done all year, clutch up, put it together, and the offense works. It was about us playing together. When you run our offense right, with the right personnel, it works.”

“We didn’t have a doubt we were going to score,” stated Cox. “We put our minds to it. Luckily, we’ve been in a couple situations like this before, and we just kept moving the ball. In the last seconds, we know we’re going to come down and win the game.”

Southridge responded suddenly, racing 78 yards in just under two minutes and punching in a Devin Martinez 1-yard touchdown run on four and goal to pull the Skyhawks within 42-41 with 1:18 left in the fourth.

However, instead of tying the game with an extra point and sending the game to overtime, Southridge gambled and put its offense back on the field for the game-winning two-point try.

Quarterback AJ Woodin had Jordan Morgan open in the end zone, but his pass whizzed over the 6-foot-2 receiver’s head and out-of bounds, leaving the score at 42-41. Sturtevant locked into Morgan on the game’s deciding play and stood strong enough for long enough to disrupt Woodin’s timing on the throw.

“I was looking for a flag, but thankfully it was a bad pass,” said Sturtevant. “(Morgan) wasn’t able to get a hand on it, but he’s a great receiver. I had a lot of fun covering him all day.”

Cox recovered the ensuing onside kick, and running back Jacob Short was able to run out the clock with 12 yards on the ground to throw dirt on the Skyhawks.

“Last year, after a momentum swing, we’d kind of get down,” recalled Cox. “This year, we have confidence in ourselves. We know after anything happens, we can come back, put the ball in the end zone and make a stop when we really need to.”

‘Come out with a punch

Southridge’s crowning undoing was arguably a meager first half in which Brisbee and the Wildcats were sharp and streamlined offensively and the defense made huge stops. Lind caught 22-yard touchdown pass from Brisbee on four and 10 that tied the score, 7-7 with 7:41 left in the first quarter. And, after Sturtevant picked off an underthrown ball by Woodin, Brisbee scampered 5 yards through a gaping hole for a score to go up 14-7.

Twice in the first half, Westview’s defense halted Southridge on fourth down and turned the ball back to a Wildcat offense that scored on a Brisbee-to-Meyers 10-yard touchdown and an alley-oop 22-yard score from Brisbee to Sturtevant to push the lead to TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Southridge defensive lineman Willie Eteaki celebrates a big hit on Westviews Jacob Short in the fourth quarter of the Wildcats win.

“In the first half, we didn’t come out with a punch,” said Southridge defensive tackle Willie Eteaki. “We picked it up, but we just need to start finishing. We have to be more disciplined as a team and execute our plays.”

At halftime, head coach Doug Dean woke the Skyhawks with a rousing speech reminding his team that nothing’s given to them, and if they wanted the game, they’d have to take it. Southridge certainly pulled out all the stops in the second half, with Martinez running like a mad man behind a short-tempered offensive line and the defense starting to get off the field on third down.

“We got pumped up,” said Eteaki. “Everybody decided to play as a team and for each other. We played with our hearts and left everything on the field.”

“The important thing is our line came together in the second half, and we really opened up some good holes,” said senior offensive lineman Nicholas Stahl. “We came together as a team a little bit more, and that should give us a better shot at going further in the playoffs.”

Cut the deficit

Southridge’s offense did everything in its power to bring the Skyhawks back into the contest in the third.

After Brisbee hit Trevor Bovero for an unbelievable 27-yard touchdown pass on four and 19 to push the Westview advantage to 34-14 in the third, Martinez scored two touchdowns on runs of 2 and 30 yards to cut the deficit to 34-27 with 1:45 left.

“We have a mentality that we’re going to bring it to you, and you’re not going to be able to stop us,” said Stahl. “That’s how we play.”

Martinez had a huge outing with 293 yards and three touchdowns, though he didn’t get a chance to touch the ball on the game’s final play. Nonetheless, Southridge continued to show how dominant it can be, running the rock.

“I have to give it to our linemen,” said Martinez. “They made huge holes where I didn’t even get touched. And, our fullback (Zack) Wilbur was effective opening holes too. I just get in there, and when I get the ball, it’s like a different world. I just start running, it’s kind of fun.

“Honestly, this game was phenomenal,” continued Martinez. “I’m proud of how we did. We were giving it our all. We’ll just have to come back next week swinging harder.”

At 3-1 in the league, Westview faces another important contest with archrival Sunset this Friday on the road. The Wildcats have one of the league’s three state playoffs berths sown up already, but they want that second-place stature to themselves and plan on using the Southridge win as a springboard versus the Apollos.

“To come in here, on their home turf and take this win, it’s just incredible,” said Sturtevant. “This is definitely a statement game. This is a quality win over a top 10 team. It’s really impressive for the whole state to see.”

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