Wayne moving like machine toward title defense
HUNTINGTON — For Wayne’s powerful rushing attack, it’s more about quality than quantity.
The Class AA No. 1-rated Pioneers (8-0) have been so successful offensively this football season that the leading rusher is averaging just 8.5 carries per game.
However, Wayne is rushing for 9.5 yards per carry as a team en route to a 55-point average.
It’s all part of the program Wayne coach Tom Harmon has built during his 15 years.
The unselfishness of players and doing things the right way are what have contributed to
Wayne being the defending state champion and owners of a 17-game winning streak heading into a Friday contest at No. 25 Chapmanville (4-4).
“You can’t say enough about guys who have put that time and energy into it, you like to see them do well,” Harmon said.
The Pioneers are led by senior Brandon Spurlock, who has rushed for 1,119 yards and 16 touchdowns despite only carrying the ball 76 times all season.
If you do the match, he’s averaging a touchdown every 4.75 carries.
Last week, Spurlock erased the Poca Dots, finishing with 201 yards and three touchdowns on just nine carries in a 56-22 win.
What’s funny is Spurlock’s 14.7 yard-per-carry average doesn’t even lead the team.
That honor goes to Mason Hodge, the Pioneers’ sophomore wingback, who checks in at 6-foot, 230 pounds and is averaging 27.9 yards per carry.
Due to the Pioneers averaging nearly 41 points in the first half of their games, Hodge has carried the ball just 15 times. He has 419 yards and more than half of his carries — eight, to be exact — have gone for touchdowns. He also has caught eight passes for 135 yards and two touchdowns.
Balance has been the key for the Pioneers.
Nine Wayne ballcarriers have eclipsed the 100-yard mark in games and 17 different players have scored.
During Harmon’s tenure, Wayne has been known as a power rushing team and they’ve proven such this season. However, the Pioneers have also shown a keen ability to go to the air.
Quarterback Grant Ferguson is 42-of-73 for 733 yards and 10 touchdowns with no interceptions. The top four targets have all caught at least two scoring passes and are also over the 100-yard mark.
But, just as the offense has been completely in sync, so has the defense.
In fact, heading into the ninth game of the season, the first-team defense has given up just one touchdown.
The team has also forced 24 turnovers en route to a dominating advantage in the first 24 minutes of games.
For Harmon, whether it’s offense or defense, the little things are what create the big picture.
“Lining up right, not nearly as many mental mistakes, those things — along with turnovers — are what gets you beat,” Harmon said. “I think we’re getting better at that, but we’re not where we need to be.”
As the team gets ready to travel to Chapmanville for its final road contest of the season, all the pieces are in place for the defending Class AA state champs to continue their 17-game winning streak and continue their march toward a second-consecutive state title.
Quotes for story provided by The Herald-Dispatch contributor Ryan Epling.