Culver clubs Wahtonka
- Brian Liebenstein
- Madras Pioneer - Sports
>Bulldogs secure playoff spot
Culver High's football Bulldogs handled visiting Wahtonka with more ease than their own Homecoming festivities Friday.
The teams' showdown for the second seed in the 2A state football tournament from the Columbia Basin Conference turned into more of a showcase -- for Culver senior running back Mark Coy and his teammates.
"They were obviously bigger and more powerful," Wahtonka coach Rory O'Halloran said after the Bulldogs won 55-7.
Coy ignited Culver's attack with two first-quarter touchdowns, including one of 64 yards, before Anthony Alley ended the contest with a one-yard stroll with just seconds left in the third quarter.
Culver improved its conference record to 4-1 and overall mark to 7-1 as Wahtonka slipped to 4-4 overall and 4-2 in the conference.
Creating havoc for Wahtonka's would-be tacklers, Coy went off tackle or swept outside looking for holes. By "just reading my holes," as he put it, Coy finished the game with 256 yards on 15 carries.
Wahtonka challenged Culver early. The Eagles attained a pair of first downs and penetrated Culver territory after taking the opening kickoff. Senior running backs Tylor Huxel and Erik Velador served as a one-two combination for the Eagles. Wahtonka gained four yards, nearly three yards, and another three to create a fourth down in which it needed less than a ball's length for first on its first drive. After converting that risk by having quarterback Jordan Schmidt sneak to the 32, Wahtonka's was stalled later in that opening series.
Culver's defense gave its offense -- which included at least seven two-way players -- an opportunity by stopping Wahtonka on a fourth-down play at the Eagles' 48.
Coy then came on the scene by gaining all 48 of the yards. After runs of 16, 11 and 13 yards, Coy capped the drive with an eight-yard touchdown. The first of seven extra-point kicks by Nate Lewis left Wahtonka permanently behind.
The Eagles' best threat of the game came in the ensuing first-quarter series. A.J. Long got behind Culver's pass defenders. Its pass defense proved Culver's lone inconsistency Friday.
Culver quarterback Jared Adams had a four-for-four passing day to go with Coy's running.
Brennan Whitaker intercepted for Culver just a few plays after Wahtonka's completion to Long to begin the drive which netted Coy a 64-yard touchdown, his longest run of the game.
Its passing proved Wahtonka's one scoring weapon.
Tight end Chris Sasse aided other Wahtonka drives with catches but Culver only bent defensively while scoring on the offensive chances it created to extend its lead to 28-0.
An 18-yard pass from Adams to Robber Mason gave Culver its fourth touchdown.
At that point Wahtonka showed its explosiveness.
A return to the 27 by Fernando Alvarez set Wahtonka up for a 73-yard strike from Jordan Schmidt to Barry Washington that cut Culver's lead back to three touchdowns in the middle of the second period.
But Culver showed its penchant for scoring quickly at the end of the half for the third time at home this season.
Throws from Adams and catches by Mason and Chris Dix marched Culver downfield before Coy followed running mate Nick Hagman's block for a 16-yard touchdown.
A break for Homecoming festivities only seemed to reenergize Culver. Driving after taking the second-half kickoff, Culver expanded its lead to 42-7 on a seven-yard Hagman run.
Wahtonka's woes were punctuated on the following kickoff. It sailed off the fingertips of Alvarez to pin the Eagles at the five-yard-line. While gaining a first down, Wahtonka was forced to punt from inside its own 20. Culver capitalized.
Adams gathered in the kick and dashed to his right and into the endzone for a 39-yard touchdown.
"We did move the ball at times but defensively, we couldn't stop them," O'Halloran said.
Culver's coaches were not wanting to see the game ended by the 45-point rule used in the conference, noted co-head coaches Mike Funderburg and Ed Legace, but with a lot of seniors making what might be their final appearance at home, it was "time to spotlight them," noted Funderburg.
A blocked pass by Culver added to Wahtonka's headaches in its final drive before some frustration manifested itself. A penalty against the Eagles for hitting the kick returner before the ball arrived left Culver near midfield again. Marching behind some replacements, the Bulldogs closed the game on Anthony Alley's touchdown run from the one.
Coaches Funderburg and Legace made it clear that Culver won't be taking Sherman County lightly when it visits there Friday evening, but that it will try to gain enough control to allow some regulars a slight rest and some less-experienced players a little more playing time.