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Neighbors Growing Together | Sep 26, 2018

WACO wins game one

Aug 20, 2018
Photo by: Douglas Brenneman WACO’s Jalen Collins tries to haul in a pass after getting behind the defense during WACO’s season-opening win at Janesville on Friday night.

By Douglas Brenneman, Golden Triangle News Service


JANESVILLE ­— The game of eight-man football is usually a high-scoring affair. That was not true Friday in Janesville.

The WACO High School football team used its defense and a big-play offense to take a 25-14 win on the road.

“I thought we played incredible defense for our opening game,” WACO head coach Chad Edeker said.

It was evident in the play of both teams that it was the first game. The first two possessions of each team involved fumbles, turnover on downs, punts and an interception.

“I thought we came out a little bit nervous,” Edeker said. “It was sketchy offensively. We have a whole new offense -- running the spread and throwing it while calling the plays at the line is new.”

Janesville got a 30-yard punt return to start its third possession on the WACO 19-yard line. Five running plays later, it was a 7-0 lead for the Wildcats with 3 minutes, 31 seconds left in the first quarter.

The teams continued to trade possessions as the Warrior defense stepped up, but the Warrior offense stalled on dropped passes.

“We know we have to catch more passes,” Edeker said. “Those kids that dropped them have been catching 80 percent of them in practice, so it will come.”

After a tipped punt, Janesville had possession at the WACO 30, but Nolan Eubanks sacked the Wildcats’ quarterback, which led to a punt. WACO took over on its own 2 when that punt went out of bounds.

On first down, junior quarterback Nik Coble took the snap, faded back and launched a bomb deep down the middle of the field that senior Colton Horak ran under, caught in stride, and headed for the end zone. Elijah McGohan ran in the point after touchdown for an 8-7 WACO lead with 4:19 left in the first half.

“I think the no-huddle offense was an eye opener for us,” Coble said. “It took us the first quarter and maybe a little of the second quarter to cool those nerves.”

Coble intercepted a pass on the last play of the first half to preserve the Warrior lead at 8-7.

“A lot of games we play will be a lot more higher scoring,” Edeker said. “I think Janesville will be a top-tier team in their district. I think they were well coached. The starting quarterback had a foot injury and that would’ve made a huge difference, but sometimes you need a little luck.”

WACO got possession first in the second half and needed a little luck on a fourth-and-4 fake punt when Horak ran into his own man at the line of scrimmage, but scanpered outside and ran 33 yards to get the first down.

Three plays later, it was fourth-and-4 again. Wyatt Harbison caught a Coble pass on a quick slant and ran another 15 yards into the end zone for a 14-7 lead with 9:09 left in the third quarter. McGohan scored on the PAT to make it 16-7.

On the next WACO possession, Coble and Harbison switched positions and Coble caught a 36-yard pass on second-and-10. The drive stalled and Horak converted a 37-yard field goal for a 19-7 advantage with 3:24 remaining in the third quarter.

“I told Coach let’s go vertical and give it to me,” Coble said. “Wyatt came in and I think that is what helped us win.”

The Wildcats scored on their next possession to get within 19-14.

The Wildcats looked ready to score again when a flag came out on a deep pass play in the end zone, but it was offensive pass interference and the drive stalled.

WACO ran two plays to Horak, then Coble went to receiver again on a second-and-8. Sprinting down the Warrior sideline, he made a spectacular catch on a Harbison throw for a first down at the 9.

“I kind of had to tip it to myself to keep it up in the air and then I got it,” Coble said. “It was a very good throw. I was doing anything I could to get the ball and not let the defense get it. I guess it worked out for the best.”

“Wyatt throws a good deep ball and Nick has great hands,” Edeker said. “Nik was the one that suggested the play and and he told me, ‘I will catch that ball.’ He made some big plays for us. I think Nik would rather have 300 yards passing instead of 80 yards receiving but he wants to win more than either. It was a big win for us.”

Two plays later, Horak ran up the middle for an 8-yard TD and a 25-14 lead with 4:16 left in the game.

Horak made an interception to end the last Janesville possession with 2:34 on the scoreboard and the Warriors picked up two first downs to run out the clock.

“The kids did what it took to win,” Edeker said. “We know what we have to do to score more points and that will win us more ball games.”

“The beauty of our team is if somebody is down, other guys help pick him up,” Coble said. “I don’t think you can find an eight-man team that can hold somebody to 14 points.”

“They have played Week Zero the last two years and this was our first time,” Janesville coach Dale Eastman said. “I think we took plays off and they did not. If you take a play off in eight man, somebody’s going to find you.

“I know I am going to cheer for WACO the rest of the year. I want them to go 9-0 because these non-district games are going to count.”

“We have not had an opening-game win in a while,” Edeker said.

Horak ran 11 times for 91 yards and caught five balls for 99 yards. Coble was 8 of 22 passing for 135 yards and his two receptions totaled 69 yards.

Joshua Hahn led the Wildcats with 129 yards rushing on 23 carries.

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