After going 17 wins without a win, the Woodland High football team suddenly has a winning streak, albeit a two-game one.
The Wildcats won the Region 7-AAAAA opener and an intracounty rivalry game Friday night by a score of 20-6 to move to 2-1, their first winning record at any point in a season since 2011.
A game light on passing and riddled with penalties went Woodland’s way. The two teams combined for 15 penalties, a good bit of which took away most of the exciting plays the game had. Gains on the ground were negated by holding penalties, especially by Cass.
On one drive in the third quarter, the Colonels had a taunting penalty called on Thomas Gilliam after the tailback busted out a 24-yard run. They were then called for successive holding penalties, drive killers for a team that struggled to move the ball otherwise.
“That’s not taking advantage of opportunities,” said a clearly exasperated and frustrated Bobby Hughes after the game.
Hughes takes these things personally — the hurt on his face after this loss displayed the wear and tear of a third straight week of underwhelming performances.
His Colonels trailed by seven at half — and those points were gift wrapped to Woodland.
After seemingly stalling the Wildcat drive, Cass was called for defensive holding on a third-and-13 incomplete pass. Woodland head coach Tony Plott decided to go for it on fourth-and-4 — both teams were aggressive in utilizing all four downs — and Woodland converted. They would push the ball to the 1-yard line, where quarterback Brody Williams, who carried the ball 10 times for 60 yards, rushed it in for the score.
The half took just 45 minutes to complete, an illustration in large part of Woodland’s ability to hold on to the ball and control the clock, something Plott said his team had placed an emphasis on coming into this intracounty game.
We wanted to keep their offense off the field,” Plott said.
The second half was more of the same, with Woodland running the ball out of their wing-T formation. Given its setup, it was often hard for the Cass defenders to discern who the ballcarrier was on any given play.
“It kind of confuses them a little bit.” Woodland halfback Demarcus Williams, who had 15 carries for 67 yards, said.
Six different Wildcat players carried the ball, with four going at or over the 60-yard mark.
The game’s second touchdown was scored about two-thirds of the way through the third quarter by Kaison Williams, who led the Wildcats with 11 carries for 105 yards.
“[Woodland] run[s] three/four base plays and that’s it,” Hughes said. “Just run them and run them and run them and we didn’t do a good enough job of stopping them.”
Down two scores, Cass did not give up. Facing a fourth-and-11 and needing to make something happen to stay in the game, Logan Nelson — who received most of the snaps over Rett Moore — found Cameron Gonyea for a deep ball for 37 yards. They would miss the extra point, adding to kicking woes that extended to the first half after Anthony Robledo missed a field goal in the first half.
Woodland’s next drive stalled, but Cass was unable to capitalize, falling victim to penalties and turning the ball over to Woodland.
Cass had an opportunity to get the ball back with around three minutes left defending a fourth-and-7, but in its only pass attempt of the game, Brody Williams connected with Zach Pitner inside the 10-yard line.
“That was probably the difference in game,” Plott said.
Woodland drove the ball to the 1, and facing another fourth down, were stopped inches away from the goal line.
Cass was facing an almost impossible situation — drive the ball 99 yards in 90 seconds. A few plays into the drive, Nelson made a costly mistake, throwing the ball into the waiting arms of Austin Potter, who punctuated the win with a pick-six. Woodland missed the extra point.
The Wildcats seem to have found an identity and execute what it is they try to do well. They didn’t disguise what is was they wanted to do — Cass just had trouble stopping it.
“They did exactly what we thought they were going to do,” Hughes said.
This was as much a game about Woodland’s newfound winning ways as it was Cass’ continued struggles. It marks Plott’s first win over the Colonels, and the first time Woodland has beaten Cass in five years.
“At our school, they used to doubt us, just the team we was,” Williams said. “Now it’s about the team we’re becoming right now.”