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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
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Copyright © 2002 Express Publishing Inc.
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 

For the week of September 11 - 17, 2002


The 2002 Wood River High School varsity football team is looking forward to Friday’s Homecoming game against Jerome. Courtesy photo


Slow start, then Wolverines scare Wendell

Trojans escape 24-14, Homecoming next

Express Staff Writer

It was almost a tale of two different games Friday when the Wood River Wolverines visited the Wendell Trojans for a non-conference varsity football game that opened the 2002 campaign for both teams.

Wendell (1-0) escaped with a 24-14 win, sending Wood River (0-1) to its sixth straight loss covering two seasons. But the fast-starting Trojans felt intense pressure from the slow-starting Wolverines down the stretch.

"We came out of the game a much better team than we went in," said Wood River coach John Blackman.

Coming off back-to-back seven-win seasons and last year’s State 2A playoff berth, Wendell dominated the first 20 minutes. The Trojans scored on three of their first four possessions and built an 18-0 cushion with a 173-41 advantage in early yardage.

It looked like a rout. "We had a lot of first-game jitters. Simple, little mistakes," said Blackman. "I made one on our first series, when we went for it on fourth down and fumbled at our 30, and they scored the first touchdown of the game."

Confronted with the stodgy Wolverine two-yards-and-a-pile of players double wing offense, a Wendell coach shouted encouragement to his defense by comparing Wood River’s attack to a junior high school offense.

Then, Wood River senior Matt Conover moved over from slotback and took the helm as quarterback. His presence injected the offense with confidence—and the Wolverines started rolling. They ripped off big chunks of yardage, six yards at a clip.

"Matt took command in the huddle. The quarterback is a big part of our offense because he makes the lead block in the hole," said Blackman.

A 12-play, 69-yard drive stalled at the Trojan 13-yard-line as the first half ended. Then, the third quarter was all Wood River—24 to 5 in offensive plays, 10:30 in time of possession, and 89-21 in yards gained. The Wendell defense was stunned.

And the Trojan coaches changed their tune, thankful for the smallest favor of even a five-yard penalty that briefly slowed the Hailey momentum.

Marshall Hooten’s fumble recovery set Wood River’s first scoring drive in motion. Dylan Welcome (16 carries for 53 yards) rushed four times for 22 yards during the eight-play, 49-yard attack that ended with Matt Pruett plunging to paydirt. Luis Ruiz ran the two-point conversion, 18-8.

"We ran power seven times in a row and they couldn’t stop it, then we punched it in," said Blackman. "That double wing offense allows you to control ball possession."

A big third-down play on the drive was a 12-yard pass completion—Wood River’s first of the game—from Conover to Joe Paisley. "For the most part our guys were open on out patterns all game," Blackman said.

Wood River, trailing by 10 points, had a golden opportunity to draw a little closer when Kellen Chatterton pounced on another Wendell fumble at midfield. But the Trojan defense came up big stopping Welcome’s fourth-and-one plunge at its 30.

Having weathered Wood River’s comeback with two defensive stops, Wendell stayed conservative on offense and put the ball in the hands of 6-0, 200-pound senior Sean Goodbody (16 rushes for 129 yards).

Goodbody’s runs and a key personal foul call against Wood River moved Wendell to the Wolverine 22-yard-line. From there, on third-and-three, senior Dane Beorchia broke loose on a 22-yard TD run that put Wendell ahead 24-8 with 1:28 left.

It was a game-winning drive.

Wood River ended the contest with a 70-yard scoring drive featuring an 11-yard Conover-to-Paisley pass, a 22-yard Chatterton run on a trap play and good fortune on two underthrown Conover passes down the middle.

A pass interference call drawn by tight end Christian Blackman installed Wood River at the Trojan 22. Then, with 16 seconds left, Conover threw in Paisley’s direction. Wendell’s Steven Koning tipped the pass, then Paisley caught it and dove over the line for a 22-yard TD.

It wasn’t the most consistent of performances, and Wood River didn’t come home with a win, but the Wolverines certainly left Wendell with things to work on and improve.

Punter Dylan Welcome did a good job averaging 34 yards on four kicks. Wood River ended up out-gaining Wendell 336 to 317 in total yardage. The Wolverines committed only two penalties, and the only fumble was on Wood River’s first offensive drive.

Blackman said, "In the second half we showed we could play. From a coaching standpoint we learned things and we got a lot of players in the game. But we’ve got to be able to run the counter and the sweep to make our offense more effective."

And Wood River’s defense, outscored 83-36 in the first quarter of games last season, and 12-0 on Friday, has got to stop other teams early.



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