After a 3-0 start, the biggest test of the year was coming at home on Friday night for the East Webster Wolverines.
It was a special night for the Wolverine faithful. WTVA made the night its game of the week complete with some pregame tailgating, a large crowd for the game, and even state championship ring night for the Lady Wolverine softball team. But the night belonged to the Baldwyn Bearcats.
Baldwyn entered one of the teams to watch for in the North State championship in Class 2A, and it took care of business in a 45-23 win. It was a game, though, that coach Ron Price thought would be much different if his team would have protected the ball.
“I’m disappointed in the fact that we turned the ball over. We had a turnover in the first quarter that allowed them to separate a little bit. Late in the game we scored, recovered an onside kick, and throw an interception. We turn around and get a stop and then throw a pick six. You’ve got to play a perfect game to beat a team like that, and we’re not there,” Price said.
“We had guys blowing coverage, some guys running the wrong route, missing tackles on defense. We’re young, but we’ve got to get better if we want to compete at a high level.”
Despite two interceptions from Kaleb Warnock, the passing offense had some plays in the game. EWHS was 13-of-22 for 155 yards, and a touchdown as Warnock was 10-of-18 for 100 yards with a score. Junior Cade Morrow continues to add some flavor to the offense as well and went 3-for-4 with 55 yards.
Daygan Crowley had a huge game as the freshman hauled in four catches for 102 yards and a touchdown, rushed three times for 30 yards, and had a 28-yard punt return. Additionally, EWHS had 35 carries for 135 yards with RT Moye rushing 16 times for 55 yards and Warnock 11 for 40 and two scores.
“We’ve got a lot of talented skill players and we’re trying to distribute them the ball and get it to them,” Price said. “We want the defense to not have to shut down everybody and be a one-dimensional team.”
Warnock’s first touchdown run came as the Wolverines had tied the game up at 7-7 early, but Baldwyn would start to get some distance. Three-straight touchdowns in the first half saw the lead balloon to 28-7 for the Bearcats. Warnock hit Crowley for a 31-yard touchdown late in the half to cut into that lead, but the Wolverines allowed Baldwyn to get down the field and kick a field goal for the 31-14 advantage at the half.
After a third quarter field goal from Gabe Brown was countered with a touchdown from the Bearcats, EWHS got another touchdown on Warnock’s run to cut it to 38-23.
A big moment in the game came on the kickoff when the Wolverines recovered an onside kick, but then threw an interception returned for a touchdown that would seemingly kill the Wolverines chances in that fourth quarter.
It was a tough loss for Price and his players to swallow, but he can’t help but also see some progress happening every single week. His young team is growing up.
“Going into the South Pontotoc game, we didn’t know what to expect. To be able to start the year 3-0 was really what this young group of kids needed,” Price said. “We played a team this past Friday that some people think are the best team in the North. You want to be playing good football teams to find out who you are because in two weeks we start division play, and we want to know where we are. I see we’re taking steps in the right direction but to get to where we want to be, we’ve got to continue to get better.”
At 3-1, EWHS looks to move forward this week with the final tune up before a challenging Class 2A, Region 2 schedule hits.
East Union is next up at home on Friday night, and the Wolverines have had some major battles with the Urchines over the years. Last season, a regular season and playoff game came down to the wire, but the Wolverines survived both. Despite an 0-4 start for the Urchines, it’s a game that Price always says will be a challenge.
“East Union and East Webster has turned into a football rivalry,” Price said. “We’ve played them several times in the last few years and last year we had to play them twice. Our kids last year said that was the best team that they played all year. They turned the ball over six times against Eupora last week, and you can’t count on that happening again. Every game that we play against them is tough, and we expect the same to happen again on Friday.”