WHS FOOTBALL: Cardinals corral Trojans

WORTHINGTON -- With four seconds left in the first quarter in the season-opening high school football game at Trojan Field Friday night, the visiting Fairmont Cardinals -- having already scored touchdowns on their first three series -- snapped of...

Aaron Hagen/Daily Globe Worthington's Nate Mejia looks to shed a pair of Farimont tacklers during Friday night's football game in Worthington.

WORTHINGTON -- With four seconds left in the first quarter in the season-opening high school football game at Trojan Field Friday night, the visiting Fairmont Cardinals -- having already scored touchdowns on their first three series -- snapped off a 55-yard run into the end zone, building a 27-0 lead on a non-aggressive Worthington squad.

On the play, Fairmont's Alek Borchardt broke into the clear -- along the left sideline -- and crossed the goal line standing up, as two potential Trojan tacklers were unable to knock him off his feet.

Then on the extra-point kick, the Cardinals bobbled the hold and were slow to get the ball spotted. But yet, Fairmont's Logan Peymann split the uprights with the boot -- as not one of the Trojan defenders was aggressive enough to block the attempt.

Those two plays -- or lack of plays -- seemed to epitomize most of the first half for the 2010 Trojans, as Fairmont eventually built a 42-0 advantage by intermission.

The Cardinals went to their bench much of the second half and the running time "mercy rule" went into effect throughout the fourth quarter.


The final score was: Fairmont 48, Worthington 6.

"Our preseason practices really went well and prepared us for this," exclaimed FHS head coach Mat Mahoney after the post-game hand shakes. "We have great depth on our offensive and defensive lines and those kids really allowed us to execute well."

The same could not be said for the Trojans, who missed assignments, missed blocks, dropped balls -- and missed tackles.

"We need to elevate our game," said first-year WHS head coach Brad Grimmius in an understatement. "We need to learn how to play with heart and emotion -- on the football field the 'nice guy' has to go away."

The Cardinals, who return a lot of veteran players from a team which sported an 8-3 record last year (including a 33-13 victory over the Trojans in the first game of '09), scored in a variety of ways in the first half, breaking attempted tackles on most of those touchdowns.

"We did not get to the ball and make tackles," said Grimmius. "We do spend a lot of practice time working on tackling -- but tonight we missed a lot of them that we should be able -- and need -- to make."

WHS senior linebacker Matt Steffl delivered a hard-hitting, fundamentally-perfect tackle on a Cardinal ball carrier on Fairmont's third drive of the game.

But during most of the first half, there were few Trojan hits that resembled Steffl's tackle.


"We did get to the ball better in the second half with better pursuit and had a couple of 'gang tackles' as our aggressiveness picked up," said Grimmius. "We need everyone to step up and play hard for all four quarters."

FHS scores on first four drives, return pass interception for 35-0 lead

Fairmont first lit the scoreboard when junior running back Adam Schultz ripped off a 23-yard touchdown run on the Cardinals' sixth play of the game.

After the Trojans went three-and-out, forcing junior quarterback Lucas Henning's first of six punts, the Cardinals sustained a drive, capped by a two-yard TD burst by junior fullback Ross Wilken with 4:39 remaining in the first quarter.

Again, Worthington was unable to get a first down and Fairmont scored on its third series when junior quarterback Ben Kain tricked the Trojans on a nifty "bootleg-like" option run to the left, covering 11 yards and giving the visitors a 21-0 edge.

"We actually made a good tackle on that play," noted Grimmius. "But that guy didn't have the ball."

After Henning's third punt, there were just four seconds left on the first-quarter clock when Borchardt broke his 55-yard TD run and the Trojans were unable to make a tackle -- or block the delayed extra-point kick.

The quarter ended with the Cardinals leading, 28-0.


Then, two minutes into the second period, Fairmont defensive back Bryce Holm -- a sophomore -- leaped high and picked off a pass right in front of the Trojan bench and sprinted 42 yards for Fairmont's fifth TD of the night.

Trojans have nice drive on fifth series

A 12-yard run on a reverse by senior receiver Nate Mejia sparked Worthington on its next drive, giving the Trojans their initial first down of the game.

After an apparent 25-yard pass play from Henning to Meija was nullified by a holding penalty, Henning connected with 6-7 junior Mitch Weg on a 34-yard pass play, as Weg made a great catch -- pulling the ball down amongst a crowd of Cardinal defenders.

The drive stalled, however, and Fairmont later responded with another drive and capped it with a 36-yard touchdown pass from Kain to Schultz with just 57 seconds remaining in the second quarter.

Peymann's fifth extra-point kick (he missed the first one and Fairmont converted a two-point pass play from Kain to Peymann after the second touchdown), the halftime score was 42-0.

The Trojans had a good defensive stand prior to that late drive by the Cardinals as senior lineman Jordon Bents batted down a pass and sophomore defensive end Morgan Traylor came up with a sack.

"We started getting more aggressive near the end of the second quarter," praised Grimmius. "We made some plays."


Cards go up 48-0 after more missed tackles

Worthington moved the ball some on its first drive of the second half, but after another Henning punt, Fairmont scored again when Peymann caught a pass on a short crossing pattern -- broke several 'arm' tackles and then carried a couple of Trojan defenders into the end zone to complete a 37-yard TD play.

"That was another example of missed tackling," summed up Grimmius. "It was nice execution by Fairmont to complete the pass underneath, but there's no way that should have been a touchdown."

Worthington's Tanner Rogers aggressively went after Peymann on the extra-point try, forcing a missed kick by the all-around Cardinal.

Rushes by Trojan backs Ethan Spittle and Basey Williams gave Worthington a spark on its next drive and the Trojan defense kept the Cardinals from scoring the rest of the game.

Henning, Weg team up twice; Spittle, Meija complete WHS drive

In the fourth quarter, the Trojans put together a touchdown drive -- keyed by a 39-yard pass hook-up from Henning to Weg (three catches for 79 yards), sustained by a seven-yard run by Spittle and then capped by Meija's one-yard touchdown run with 3:21 to play.

Henning and Weg had connected on a long pass (about 35 yards) just prior to the successful completion, that was ruled to be caught out of bounds.


On Fairmont's last series, Spittle -- a 135-pound sophomore -- made a nice tackle to help stop the Cardinals from approaching the end zone for an eighth time.

The Trojans, who will practice in full pads on Monday, have a week to prepare for their Southwest Conference opener at Jackson County Central Friday.

Fairmont 28 14 6 0 -- 48

WHS 0 0 0 6 -- 6

Aaron Hagen/daily Globe Trojan quarterback Lucas Henning (4) throws over Fairmont's Logan Peymann as receiver Nate Mejia calls for the ball during Friday night's football game in Worthington.

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