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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
208.726.8060 Voice
208.726.2329 Fax

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 October 9 - 15, 2002


Declo bursts past 
Wood River 50-8

Conover is hurt in SCIC setback

Things went badly in a big hurry for the Wood River High School varsity football team during Thursday’s Sawtooth Central Idaho Conference clash at the homefield of two-time defending SCIC champion Declo.

Heavily-favored Declo (4-1, 2-0 league) held a slim 15-8 lead late in the first, after Matt Conover’s 42-yard kickoff return led to a Wood River score—Conover rolling to the right on fourth-and-goal and hitting Dylan Welcome for a five-yard TD toss.

Wood River will miss the leadership and big play opportunities offered by injured senior QB/CB Matt Conover. Express photo by Willy Cook

Wood River’s defense did its part, too, holding Declo’s 41.0 ppg offense to no rushing or passing first downs and only 49 rushing yards in the first 12 minutes of action. Then the wheels fell off, and they fell off all at once.

Declo’s 6-1, 200-pound senior Jordan Bagwell scored three touchdowns in a three-and-a-half minute span midway through the second. The outburst turned a close game into a 36-8 Hornet blowout at intermission.

The Hornets, 12-0 in SCIC games since entering the 3A league in 2000, scored twice more in the second half and left the field with a 50-8 victory. Declo (252 yards rushing, 438 total yards) turned two Wood River turnovers into touchdowns and added another score after a blocked punt.

Even worse for Wood River (1-4, 0-2 league), team leader Conover injured his knee making a crushing tackle late in the third quarter and is likely lost to the Wolverines for the remaining three games of the season.

Wolverine coach John Blackman said, "Things went south in the second quarter and the kids were on their heels for the rest of the game.

"I hadn’t seen that side of our team—they hadn’t been rocked like that. They had always played well even in the games we had lost."

Blackman said Conover will return to the doctor Thursday, but the initial diagnosis was an injury to his patella tendon in the knee. Blackman said, "The tendon tracks the kneecap. It is stretched and there seems to be some damage. But it doesn’t appear that Matt will need surgery.

"He will be out at least two to three weeks, which probably means the rest of the football season. Matt brought so much leadership to the team as a senior that we’ll need to go out there and overcome some of our self-doubts without him playing."

Conover’s replacement at quarterback, junior Brandon Silvia, "knows how to run the offense and throws well on the rollout," said Blackman.

Last year’s state champion Wood River wrestler Conover will probably be missed more on defense (at cornerback) and on special teams (a fearless kickoff and punt returner).

Blackman said the Wolverine pass defense will need to improve quickly in Conover’s absence—and with Buhl’s offensive powerhouse coming to Phil Homer Field Friday, Oct. 11.


Letdown at Declo

Focusing on Bagwell, who rushed for only 57 yards on 15 carries, Wood River’s gang-tackling defense did its job on Declo’s stud during the first Hornet drive—but shot itself in the foot with two untimely penalties.

A face mask penalty turned a punting situation into a Declo first down in Wood River turf, and the Hornets drew the Wolverines offsides for another first down. Ken Webb’s 24-yard TD pass to Wade Osterhout helped Declo to an 8-0 lead.

Wood River took over and started moving, propelled into Hornet territory by Conover’s 30-yard pass completion to Christian Blackman.

Heard the phrase, "Never a good deed goes unpunished?" Never a good play goes unpunished when a Wolverine team does something right.

Inexplicably, the officials whistled a late hit penalty against a Wood River blocker who was trailing the Blackman pass catch. They brought the ball all the way back to the Wolverine 23. Wood River then punted.

And Declo’s Billy Allphin returned the punt 31 yards to the Wolverine 28-yard-line. Two plays later Declo senior Terry Darrington (83 yards on 6 carries) darted on a counter 28 yards to paydirt. Bagwell kicked the point and Declo led 15-0.

Coach Blackman said, "Those two penalties, the face mask and the late hit, were momentum changers."

The determination of Conover got Wood River out of its first hole. His 42-yard kickoff return—another in a series of highlight film returns from the 5-11, 170-pounder—was rewarded with another 15 yards on a face mask call against Declo’s tacklers. The ball went to the Hornet 29.

Kellen Chatterton did a stutter step for a 13-yard gainer on fourth-and-three. Then Conover turned a fourth-and-goal into a touchdown to Welcome, and Conover ran the two-point conversion for a 15-8 game at 0:43.

Those were Hailey’s highlights.

Darrington ran three times for 43 yards on Declo’s nine-play, 63-yard TD drive that ended with Bagwell’s one-yard plunge. The next two Hornet TDs were bang-bang, created by the Declo defense—an interception and a punt block. Suddenly it was 36-8.

The Hornet lead was 43-8 and Declo’s second string offense was in the game when Conover was hurt making a bone-rattling tackle that stopped a fourth-down Hornet run at the Wolverine 31-yard-line. He finally got up and walked off the field.

Whether Wood River’s hopes for the final three games walked off with Conover will be determined by the teammates he left behind on the field.



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