The Sandy Creek Patriots opened the 2018 season with a different mentality against the Whitewater Wildcats. On Friday night, they were all business as they shut down the Wildcats 49-10 on the road.
All offseason, Patriots head coach Brett Garvin has preached the words “focus” and the phrase “do your job” to his players. The message was heard loud and clear as Patriots played with a renewed energy from the opening snap.
Sandy Creek safety Brian Branch led the way, as he needed just three plays to kick his junior season into high gear. Branch left his mark with a first quarter interception, a 75-yard kickoff return and a 14-yard receiving touchdown.
“I felt great as I had to come out there and do what I needed to do,” Branch said. “It is my junior year and I had to play like it.”
The three plays ignited the Patriots attack. Junior running back Rashad Amos fueled the offense with three touchdowns and senior wide out Ahmad Jackson added 100 yards receiving, giving Sandy Creek momentum to start the season.
“I am proud of them as they did exactly what we asked them to do,” Garvin said. “We told them to stay focused and keep the gas pedal to the floor. They did that and I am proud as I can be for them.”
Sandy Creek jumped out to an early lead against the Wildcats. After Branch intercepted Wildcats quarterback Gammon McReynolds, Amos scored a 25-yard touchdown. He would find the end zone two more times.
He scored a six-yard touchdown to cap the Patriots third drive and caught an 11-yard touchdown from junior quarterback Matt Williams in the second quarter.
Sandy Creek put up 21 points in the first half behind their formidable spread offense. Senior quarterback Jamal Lewis earned the long-awaited start, but he ended up splitting time with Williams under center.
Both Williams and Lewis are slated to continue their battle for the starting quarterback position. The duo will be monitored week-to-week and assessed by multiple factors. The quarterback with the highest QBR percentage, at the end of practice week, gets to start that game.
“We are in a unique situation as we have two quarterbacks and both are really good,” Garvin said… “It’s unique as you don’t drop off much with whoever is in there.”
While the Patriots offense took off, the Wildcats found themselves stuck in neutral at times. Elijah Roland got things rolling on the ground as he collected several first downs. McReynolds also made some strong throws to his Adavion Ray and John Solomon.
However, the Wildcats couldn’t turn the ball movement into points. Roland scored the lone touchdown on an 85-yard kickoff return. He also threw a 54-yard completion to quarterback Maddox Mueller to set up a late field goal.
As the game wore on, the Sandy Creek defense started to make life difficult. The front seven provided constant pressure and found a way into the backfield. Linebacker DQ Showers was consistently around the football and defensive tackle Mark Penson racked up a couple sacks.
“We struggled to move the ball a little bit,” Wildcats head coach Bryan Holley said.
Still, Whitewater managed to keep the game close prior to halftime. Wildcats cornerback Jackson Van Meter gave the team a chance with a late interception. Van Meter accurately read Williams’ eyes and made the play. It was sweet revenge after Williams and Ahmad Jackson connected on big plays in the first half.
“Defense did pretty well as they got two turnovers and kept us in the ball game,” Holley said. “We will see some things on the film where we got to get better and execute. We will do that and be fine.”
The Wildcats had a chance to get into field goal range. They got to the 40-yard line, before the clock ran out. Sandy Creek held a 21-10 lead as both teams went to the locker room.
In the second half, Whitewater failed to add to the scoreboard. Sandy Creek added 28 unanswered points to jump ahead 48-10. Branch added his two touchdowns and the Patriots got two late scores from Williams and Lewis on the ground.
Despite the loss, there were some positives for the Wildcats. They had opportunities and had good plays in the second half. The offense has the firepower to be electric and the defense will come around. Holley knows that better days are ahead for his squad.
“We are going to use this as a measuring stick as it’s a non-region game,” Holley said. “We are going to coach our kids up as we play a tough non-region schedule. This game is not going to define our kids, our team or our season. We will take a look at it, get to work and get better.”
Whitewater returns to action in a tough road matchup against Ola High School. Sandy Creek also hits the road to face Hampton High School next week.
“This game means a lot,” Branch said. “We are 1-0 and we still have some work to do.”
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