Wednesday, September 6, 2006

Grid team starts to feel it, 40-32 in wild one

Wood River beats Preston for the first time

Express Staff Writer

Wood River senior Danny Ward puts a good stick on Preston wide-out threat Justin Yardley early in Friday's football game won by Wood River 40-32 on the Hailey gridiron. Linebacker Jared Rade (#56) follows the play. Photo by Willy Cook

When it became obvious Friday night that Wood River's early 18-0 lead was ancient history and Preston's Indians were rampaging on the warpath, Wolverine football coach Mike Glenn took quarterback Danny Kramer aside and said:

"Danny, we gotta score."

It was a statement of fact from a coach who knows momentum changes and was feeling one coming on.

Moments later, the pressure cooker started boiling over when Preston scored on an 81-yard punt return to take its first lead 26-25 with six minutes left in the third quarter of the non-conference barnburner at Hailey's Phil Homer Field.

That's when junior quarterback Kramer (10-for-17, 185 yards, 4 TD), in his first start of the season, came up with two clutch 46-yard pass completions to senior wide-out Danny Ward (6 receptions, 160 yards, 4 TD). Neither was easy. Neither was pretty. Both were essential.

Wood River (1-1) finally won the two hour-and-forty minute marathon 40-32 over Preston (1-1) in a wide-open display of offense featuring 10 touchdowns, 153 plays and 1,008 total yards by the two teams. It was Wood River's first-ever football win over Preston in six meetings.

The outcome, always in doubt to nervous Hailey fans, boiled down to two throws from Kramer to Ward.

At midfield, Kramer ducked a heavy Indian rush and launched a long 46-yard jump ball that Ward wrestled away from Preston's Kolby Talbot at the three-yard-line. On the next play junior tailback Matt Libert scored from three yards out. Libert (30 carries, 135 yards) then recovered his own fumble for the two-point conversion and Hailey's lead grew to 33-26.

To no one's surprise Preston rallied on the strong arm of senior QB T.J. Adams (18-for-41, 309 yards, 2 TD). His 35-yard TD pass to senior Justin Yardley (8 catches, 153 yards) cut Wood River's lead to 33-32 with six minutes left. The only thing was, Yardley was injured on the play and limped off.

Preston had to regroup quickly for its pivotal two-point conversion attempt and Adams decided to do it all himself. He rolled right, looked for an opening and put his head down. And Wood River's Jeff Conover tackled him short of the goal line, helped by Pat Hurley.

Glenn's advocacy of scoring echoed in Kramer's head on Wood River's next possession, started by a 16-yard Drew Anderson kickoff return. Libert followed the block of big Erik Jacobson for a 15-yard gainer across midfield. Kramer threw another long pass in Ward's direction. Way downfield, Preston's Adams tipped it.

Wouldn't you know but Ward owned the up-for-grabs ball and rambled the rest of the way to complete the 46-yard TD play. It gave the Wolverines a 40-32 lead when Cory Rutkowski made his third extra point of the mild summer evening.

"Danny Ward had a monster game," said Glenn afterward.

The game wasn't over by any means. The last 4:32 seemed an eternity for Wood River fans. They covered their eyes while Preston got as far as the Wolverine 36-yard-line on two separate drives and always seemed to have the wherewithal to tie it, on Adams' arm.

It wasn't until Carter Stewart intercepted the final Adams prayer at the Wolverine four that Glenn and his coaching staff breathed easily.

Glenn said, "The main thing is we made the plays when we had to, offensively and defensively. We had our backs to the wall but the kids answered the bell and battled for four quarters, like we had been talking about doing all week (after the second-half letdown in a 24-10 loss to Fruitland Aug. 25)."

The coach added, "You have to realize we're starting so many young kids. We're still shuffling bodies trying to find the right combinations and the right recipe. The team is slowly starting to have an identity.

"Against Preston we ran the ball a little better and distributed the ball well on offense. Danny (Kramer) did some good things and was putting the ball where it needed to go. Matt (tailback Libert) started feeling the cutback. Hey, we can get so much better if the kids stay focused. It's exciting to think of what we can be."

Early on, Wood River looked good against an 18-senior Preston squad that had beaten up on Burley's rebuilding team 44-13 in the Aug. 25 season debut.

Ward's pass interception and 21-yard return on Preston's first possession gave an early indication of his status as Friday night's "big play" producer. It was Ward who did a little hook for a four-yard TD reception and then ran the two-point conversion when the extra-point snap went high.

Jared Rade's QB sack forced a Preston punt, and Wood River put together a 13-play, 74-yard, six-and-a-half minute drive capped by Rutkowski's 23-yard field goal for an 11-0 lead. Libert ran nine times for 36 yards on the drive, and Ward caught a 29-yard pass on third down.

Doing the blocking up front were center Chris Chapman, guards Corbin Miniard and Tyler Hendricks, tackles Casey Bennett and Cody Chandler, and tight end Jacobson.

Grayson Thompson's fumble recovery on a twisting 43-yard Rutkowski punt put Wood River in business at the Indian 25 early in the second quarter. Libert ran 11 yards behind Corbin Miniard's block on third-and-eight, then Kramer rolled right and hit Ward for a 12-yard TD pass reception, 18-0.

But that was only the first act of Friday's melodrama. Preston stormed back with two TDs cutting its halftime deficit to 18-12. So Wood River desperately needed to do something with the third quarter kickoff.

Mission accomplished.

Drew Anderson's 48-yard kickoff return moved the chains into Indian territory and Libert broke two tackles on a 10-yard cutback run. But Preston's defense stiffened at their own 23-yard-line. It was third-and-eight when Kramer called a jet screen or jailbreak play.

Ward, positioned wide right, ran quickly along the line of scrimmage and snuck into the seam between the Indian defensive line and linebackers. Kramer connected with him on a quick drop. Ward did the rest, running behind Chris Chapman's block down the middle of the field for a 23-yard TD.

That made the score 25-12, comfortable for only a moment. Glenn said, "Preston is scary. They have the quarterback, the running back, the wide out and the tight end catching the ball in seam routes. They have a good scheme and they're going take what you give them."

Wood River just had a little more Friday, thanks to the Dannys, Ward and Kramer, and a never-say-die team effort.

Next, Wood River dips into the Magic Valley for two non-league games against 3A foes. Hailey visits Filer Friday, Sept. 8 and goes to Buhl Sept. 15. Filer took its home opener 19-16 over New Plymouth. Buhl won at home over Wendell 34-8.

Filer (1-0) won only one of eight games last season including a season-opening 42-0 loss at Wood River. The Wolverines out-rushed Filer 305-79 in that home rout. In the series between the two schools, Wood River leads 21-10-2 and has won 16 of the last 22 meetings.

WOLVERINE NOTES—Of Cory Rutkowski's 10 kickoffs, nine have gone into the end zone. Opponents can't run the ball out of the end zone, according to high school rules so they get it at the 20.....Rutkowski's 42-yard field goal attempt was long enough but went just wide early in the fourth quarter of the Preston game. The team record is Cory Goicoechea's 37-yard field goal in Wood River's 31-8 Homecoming victory over Kimberly Sept. 22, 2000.....The last time a Wolverine receiver caught four TD passes was Sept. 1, 2000, when Max Paisley snagged 24-, 31-, 40- and 8-yard TD passes from Goicoechea in a 28-22 Hailey overtime win at Wendell....Paisley, Goicoechea, Kellen Chatterton and Scott Bartlett are among Wolverines scoring four TDs in a game in recent seasons.....Like Kramer Friday, Goicoechea tossed four scoring passes—three to Paisley and one to Sky Wolfe—in a 35-20 home win over Buhl Oct. 5, 2000.....Friday's 72-point scoring total represented the most points scored on Phil Homer Field since Pocatello's 70-7 win over Wood River Oct. 22, 2004.

WRHS Line Score

Wood River 40, Preston 32

PRESTON 0 12 14 6 32

wood river 11 7 15 7 40


1st half

Wood River—Danny Ward, 4-yard pass from Danny Kramer (Ward run); 10:03 1st (8-0 WR)

Wood River—Cory Rutkowski, 23-yard field goal; 1:24 1st (11-0 WR)

Wood River—Danny Ward, 12-yard pass from Danny Kramer (Rutkowski kick); 7:08 2nd (18-0 WR)

Preston—Greg Russom, 2-yard run (kick failed); 3:47 2nd (18-6 WR)

Preston—Michael Kelley, 29-yard pass from T.J. Adams (run failed); 0:21 2nd (18-12 WR)

2nd half

Wood River—Danny Ward, 23-yard pass from Danny Kramer (Rutkowski kick); 10:31 3rd (25-12 WR)

Preston—Brayden Shepherd, 50-yard run (run failed); 7:57 3rd (25-18 WR)

Preston—Justin Yardley, 81-yard punt return (Yardley, pass from T.J. Adams); 6:02 3rd (26-25 Preston)

Wood River—Matt Libert, 3-yard run (Libert run); 3:39 3rd (33-26 WR)

Preston—Justin Yardley, 35-yard pass from T.J. Adams (run failed); 5:55 4th (33-32 WR)

Wood River—Danny Ward, 46-yard pass from Danny Kramer (Rutkowski kick); 4:32 4th (40-32 WR)


Offensive plays 78 75

Time of possession 20:43 27:17

1st downs, rush 7 5

1st downs, pass 7 3

1st downs, penalty 1 0

1st downs, total 15 8

Rushes, yards 29-156 38-164

Yards per carry 5.4 4.3

Fumbles lost 2 1

Completions, passes 18-41 10-17

Completion percentage 44% 59%

Passing yards 309 185

Yards per completion 17.2 18.5

Intercepted by 0 2

Sacks by, yards 3-22 2-14

Returns, yards 2-100 8-130

Total yards gained 551 457

Penalties 6-40 6-45

Punts, yardage 3-60 5-141

Yards per punt 20.0 28.2


Rushing—Matt Libert 30-135 (4.5 per carry), 5 1st downs, 1 TD, 1 conv.; Grayson Thompson 3-20; Danny Kramer 3-6; Danny Ward 1-3, 1 conv.; Collin Hand 1-0.

Passing—Danny Kramer 10-17, 185 yards, 3 1sts, 4 TD.

Receiving—Danny Ward 6-160, 2 1sts, 4 TD; Vincent Vertneg 1-10, 1 1st; Jeff Conover 1-12; Kenny Cardona 2-3.

Fumble recoveries (2)—Grayson Thompson 1; Casey Bennett 1.

Interceptions (2)—Danny Ward 1 with a 21-yard return; Carter Stewart 1 with a 4-yard return.

Sacks (2)—Jared Rade 1-5; Corbin Miniard and Sean Bunce 1-9.

Kickoff returns—Drew Anderson 4-76; Hayden Waller 2-29.

Tackles (55)—Jared Rade 10, Danny Ward 10, Jeff Conover 8, Carter Stewart 5, Collin Hand 5, Corbin Miniard 4, Pat Hurley 3, Drew Anderson 3, Erik Jacobson 3, Sean Bunce 1, Casey Bennett 1, Micah Floyd 1, David Pinkard 1.


Rushing leaders—Brayden Shepherd 19-129, 4 1sts, 1 TD; Greg Russom 5-17, 1 1st, 1 TD; T.J. Adams 5-10, 2 1sts.

Passing—T.J. Adams 18-41, 309 yards, 7 1sts, 2 TD, 1 conv., 2 interceptions.

Receiving—Justin Yardley 8-153, 2 1sts, 1 TD, 1 conv.; Michael Kelley 4-91, 2 1sts, 1 TD; Brayden Shepherd 2-30, 2 1sts, Nick Coates 2-13; Jake Visser 1-13, 1 1st; Kolby Talbot 1-9.

Fumble recoveries (1)—Scott Rallison 1.

Sacks (3)—Brooks Moser 1-8; Michael Kelley 1-7; Kelley and Moser 1-7.

Kickoff returns—Matt Porter 1-19.

Punt returns—Justin Yardley 1 with 81-yard TD return.

Tackle leaders—Bubba Lewis 7, Michael Kelley 7, Hyrum Knapp 5, T.J. Adams 5, Brooks Moser 5.

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