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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
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Copyright © 2003 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 24 - 30, 2003


Defense tightens up, grounds the Pilots 21-12

Second-half TDs rally WRHS in
Homecoming victory

Express Staff Writer

Homecoming 2003 was a happy occasion for Wood River High School supporters Friday night in Hailey.

Strong defense, a timely special-teams turnover and two second-half touchdowns lifted Wood River (1-2) to a 21-12 non-conference victory over the Glenns Ferry Pilots (1-3).

Wood River co-captain Scott Sanders (66) shoots off the defensive line with tackle Dustin Selner and, at the left, linebacker Tyler Jackson, early in the 21-12 Homecoming win over Glenns Ferry Friday. Express photo by Willy Cook

"It was a team effort—a win we really needed," said first-year Wood River head coach Dale Martin, who savored his first victory at the helm.

On a mild Indian Summer evening, 2,700 fans turned out and cheered as Wood River rallied from 6-0 and 12-8 deficits with two opportunistic scores—a third-quarter 22-yard TD pass from Huston Brashears to Brandon Silvia, and a 27-yard scoring sprint by Matt Pruett in the fourth.

Setting up the Brashears-to-Silvia touchdown pass that turned the game around was a hustling fumble recovery by Ben Molyneux after a bobble by Glenns Ferry on a punt return.

The defense was the shining star of Homecoming Night.

Collecting three turnovers and holding Glenns Ferry scoreless after halftime, the Hailey defense stiffened and stopped the Pilots a total seven times in Wolverine territory.

Matt Ward, Wood River senior, has been a great addition for coach Dale Martin’s Wolverines this year—returning punts fearlessly and, on Friday, kicking an extra point that put the game away. Express photo by Willy Cook

Most important for Wood River was to withstand the Glenns Ferry assault in the first half. The Pilots had the ball for 18 of 24 minutes before halftime but scored only twice—and Wood River’s defense stopped the Pilots at the 13-, 34- and 25-yard lines.

The Wolverines made defensive adjustments, and the Pilot air attack that threatened to blow it open with 140 yards in the first half was grounded with only one pass completion for nine yards after the half.

Martin said, "The defensive staff and the defense did a great job of making adjustments." Luiz Ruiz (12 tackles) and Tyson Reynoso (10) led the defensive charge for Wood River.

From the opening drive, the defense showed it was willing to bend but unwilling to break.

Clutch tackles by co-captain Scott Sanders, Ben Parker, Matt Ward, Kellen Kinghorn and Dustin Selner brought the first Pilot drive to a standstill after Glenns Ferry’s march reached the Wolverine 10.

Homecoming Week at Wood River isn’t complete with the Powderpuff football game. Last Thursday morning on Phil Homer Field, Alexa Alberdi (carrying the ball here) scored two TDs leading the juniors/sophomoresto a 14-6 win over the seniors/freshmen. Nikki Calzacorta scored for the seniors. Shown here, left to right, are Nikki Stone, Alberdi, Aly Sherbine and Ellie France. Express photo by David N. Seelig

Wood River’s only turnover of the game, on its first drive, turned into the first Pilot score—a 50-yard TD strike on a crossing pattern from QB Scott Gridley to Scott Arellano.

Martin said, "We had a blown coverage in the secondary."

The Wolverines had a trick up their sleeve, however. Kickoff returner Ward picked up the pigskin and returned it 14 yards, then handed it off to Pruett who ran 46 yards the other way and completed a 60-yard kickoff return.

Sophomore Tyler Jackson took a pitch and outran the Pilots down the left sideline for a 35-yard TD run tying it 6-6. Pruett’s conversion run made it 8-6 as the first quarter ended.

Wood River’s only letdown on defense came midway through the second quarter. Glenns Ferry exploited the secondary with a couple of 18-yard pass completions in the flat and finished an eight-play, 60-yard drive for a 12-8 lead.

Center Billy Kramer and quarterback Huston Brashears get ready to attack the Glenns Ferry defense Friday night. Express photo by Willy Cook

The Pilots threatened twice more before the half. But good penetration by Kinghorn followed by wrapping-up tackles by Sanders and Ruiz stopped a reverse for a seven-yard loss. On a last-gasp attempt, Craig Werley and Pruett broke up a pass at the goal line, then Matt Ward intercepted a Pilot pass.

Still struggling to make headway early in the second half was Wood River’s offense steered by sophomore QB Brashears, making his first varsity start. The Wolverines were forced to punt and Tyler Jackson (5 punts, 30.8 average) kicked a very high boomer.

Wood River got a break.

Punt returner and top rusher Scott Black (26 carries, 84 yards) fumbled the punt. The ball bounced wildly toward the sideline. It might have gone out-of-bounds, Pilot ball, if not for the Molyneux’s pursuit. He covered it just before it reached the side.

"It was a big play," said Martin. "Ben has been playing very well for us."

Taking over at the Pilot 37, Wood River kept moving when Pruett carried two Glenns Ferry tacklers on a gritty 13-yard run. Then the Wolverines surprised the Pilots by using their no-huddle offense for the first time.

Brashears threw a long pass in the direction of senior Silvia, who had entered the game at halftime after serving a half-game suspension for his ejection down at Jerome. Silvia made a great catch, wrestling the ball away from a Pilot defender at the goal line.

"I think going to the no huddle confused them a little, although Brandon made a great catch," said Martin.

Wood River led 14-12.

Glenns Ferry shot itself in the foot with a couple of holding penalties on its next drive and QB Gridley started misfiring on his throws. Still, a botched Wood River punt attempt gave the Pilots a golden chance inside the Hailey 40 early in the fourth quarter.

The visitors got as far as the 13, but a false start penalty pushed them back. Then, Reynoso tipped one of Gridley’s passes, which fell harmlessly, and Reynoso hooked face masks with Pilot runner Black on a no-gain end run. A fourth-down pass was overthrown.

Having stopped the Pilots, Wood River embarked on its best drive of the game—a nine-play, 82-yard TD march that featured 11-yard and 37-yard runs by senior Luis Ruiz.

On second-and-11 at the 27, Pruett took a pitch and outraced Pilot penetrators to the sideline. Once there, Pruett turned upfield and turned on the afterburners.

It was no contest. Pruett burned the Pilots for a 27-yard TD run. Matt Ward’s extra point kick was good, which padded the lead to nine points.

"We knew one point would do it for us because Glenns Ferry would then need to score twice. I think they thought we were going to fake the kick and go for two—our kicking game didn’t look good earlier—but Matt Ward drilled the kick. It was a big play," the coach said.

Glenns Ferry had two more chances, but Dustin Selner (9 tackles) had a pair of sacks, one coming with the help of Matt Jost, and Pruett made a one-handed interception of a Pilot pass that may have touched the ground first.

No matter. It took a Hailey Homecoming bounce.



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