Warhill High is 2-0 to start a football season for first time in school history. The Lions followed their season-opening upset of Heritage with a 41-0 win over Grafton on Friday at Wanner Stadium in a Bay Rivers District opener.
The Lions (2-0, 1-0 BRD) were as dominant on both sides of the ball as the score suggests. They netted nearly 8 yards per carry in rolling to 353 yards rushing, while the defense limited the Clippers to 22 total yards — minus-2 on the ground.
“This is a real good win for us, because we have a not-so-good history of starting the season,” said linebacker Noah Holmes, who had at least six tackles for zero or negative yardage. “All of the hard work in the offseason is paying off.”
Warhill built a 21-0 halftime lead by methodically controlling the ball on the ground out of the Wing-T. The Lions did not pass in the first half, running the ball 27 times for 187 yards.
Doug McGhee (98 yards rushing, 1 TD), Rodney Hudson (108 yards, 3 TDs), Jalen Fowler (73 yards) and Noah Holmes (44 yards, 1 TD) accounted for 23 of the carries on the three time-consuming touchdown drives. Fowler’s 27-yard run was the big play on the Lions’ six-play first possession, which culminated in Hudson’s 9-yard touchdown run up the middle.
“Coach (Thad Wheeler) says that we’re a six-headed monster and all of us have different running styles,” Hudson said, referring also to quarterback Jamin Hazelaar, who ran sparingly Friday, and to Armond Fannin, who was injured. “We’re all hard to take down and we get the hard yards when we need them.”
Following a three-and-out on their next possession, the Lions finished the first half with a pair of nine-play touchdown drives. McGhee starred on the second, cutting up the middle for 19 yards to move the ball into Grafton territory before finishing the march with a 6-yard TD run.
Holmes carried three times for 27 yards the next time the Lions had the ball, helping to set up Hudson’s 2-yard run that made it 21-0 with 1:10 left in the first half.
Rebuilding Grafton had several big gains on runs early, the most impressive being a 37-yard romp around left end by Kelani McLean. He would’ve had a 65-yard touchdown on the play, but he stepped out of bounds by inches on his way to the end zone.
For the most part, however, Warhill, which got great play from defensive lineman Trysten Welch and linebacker Jack Schulz, dominated. No one more so than Holmes.
Wheeler turned him loose on the blitz most of the night, and the Clippers could not block him. Holmes recovered a fumble at the Grafton 11-yard line late in the third quarter and, one play later, McGhee ran for a touchdown to make it 28-0.
Holmes gave the Lions a 34-0 lead early in the fourth quarter with a 3-yard touchdown run set up by Hudson’s 44-yard burst. A fumble recovery by Jacob Shore set up the Lions’ final touchdown, a 6-yard run by Hudson.
“Our goal was to go after them, and I thought that’s what we did,” Wheeler said. “It wasn’t pretty, and we’ve got to cut down on the mistakes, but overall it was a good team win.”
O’Brien can be reached by phone at 757-247-4963 and follow on Twitter @MartyOBrienDP