Warren picks up first ever playoff win
Warren picks up first ever playoff win
VINCENT –The high-powered Warren offense has been earning plenty of attention this season as the Warriors reeled off five wins in their first six games.
Some of that attention might need to be given to the Warrior defense after they secured their third shutout in four games Saturday night as they claimed the first playoff victory in school history with a convincing 45-0 win over the visiting Columbus East Tigers in a Division IV, Region 15 opener at Warren High School.
As usual the Warrior offense did its part as well as senior quarterback Kurt Taylor fired three touchdown passes, two to favorite target Evan Gandee and running back Brayden Gerber rushed for over 100 yards but it was the Big Blue defense that set the tone of the game from the opening kickoff.
“They say defense wins championships… I’ve heard that saying all of my life and I think these kids defensively have been playing at a championship level,” said Kimes, in his second year as Warrior head coach. “I’m really proud of the kids and their understanding of what their assignment is top notch and we are just playing really physical and really fast.”
After the defense stopped the Tigers on the opening possession of the game, the Warrior offense turned the ball over on downs to Columbus East at their own 33-yard line.
Two plays later Warrior linebacker Josh Welch intercepted Tiger quarterback Malachi Williams to give the ball right back to the potent Warren offense.
A 15-yard run by Gerber moved the ball into the red-zone where Taylor connected with Gandee on a 16-yard touchdown pass to give the Warriors a 7-0 lead.
Columbus East put together its best drive of the night keyed by a 50-yard pass from Williams to sophomore speedster Ishmeal Spann-Bowers to move the ball deep into Warrior territory.
The Warren defense responded and the Tiger drive stalled at the Warrior 8-yard line.
Warren quickly moved the ball into Tiger territory but it looked like their drive would stall as well when they faced a fourth-and-11 at the 36-yard line.
With the Tiger defense looking for Taylor to try to get the ball to Gandee, the senior signal caller double clutched and then hit a wide open Peyten Kellar in stride for a 36-yard touchdown pass with less than 30 seconds to play in the opening quarter.
Warren senior kicker Joel Chevalier was perfect on the night and his 33-yard field goal increased the WHS lead to 17 before the defense came up with a big play that resulted in points on the board.
With a pair of penalties backing East up deep in their own territory, a slew of Warrior defenders sacked Williams near the goal-line forcing the ball to come loose where junior linebacker J.T. Rice pounced on it in the end zone to give Warren a 24-0 lead.
Warren used their timeouts wisely late in the half giving them a chance to add points in the closing minute of the half and the tandem of Taylor-to-Gandee came through once again on a 51-yard pass-and-run with 43 seconds left to give the home team a commanding 31-0 lead at the half.
“We’ve been friends (Gandee) since we were little and we have a great camaraderie,” said Taylor, who connected with Gandee seven times for 115 yards. “We’ve always had a connection and it’s great to be able to take it onto the football field.”
Warren added a third quarter touchdown when Gerber scored on an 18-yard run that put him over the 100-yard mark and capped the scoring in the final period when freshman Jason Williams accounted for all 80-yards of a Warrior drive that culminated with his one-yard plunge for a touchown.
The Warren defense limited the Tiger running game to negative yardage as they registered nine tackles for loss in the shutout.
Taylor, who completed 9-of-19 pass attempts in the game for 161 yards was quite pleased to play a key role in a historical night for his team and school.
“We have been working so hard for this all year and we were lucky to get the chance to play due to Covid but we took the opportunity and we ran with it,” said Taylor. “Its just awesome for this team and this community to be back to what Warrior football should be.”
Warren will remain at home next Saturday when they host John Glenn and Kimes feels they have an opportunity to continue to win football games if they play up to their potential.
“I told the kids to enjoy it but we are not done, we are just getting started,” said Kimes. “These kids believe in each other and believe in what we are doing and it’s going to take a pretty special effort to knock us out.”
Warren improved to 6-1 with the win while Columbus East fell to 1-3.