Highlanders punish Timberwolves
HUNTINGTON — For the second-straight week, Huntington High’s defense lived up to its nickname — “Seal Team 11.”
The Highlanders limited the strong Spring Valley offense to 170 yards of total offense to send a powerful statement with a 40-6 win over the Timberwolves at Bob Sang Stadium.
“First off, Spring Valley is a heck of a football team,” Huntington High coach Billy Seals said. “After we settled down, we played really well. Our kids relaxed, started making plays and settled down on defense.”
What makes the defensive performance even more impressive is that Spring Valley had two offensive plays of 65 and 64 yards that accounted for 129 of the team’s 170 yards.
The team’s other 41 plays accounted for 41 total yards.
Spring Valley coach Brad Dingess spoke of what makes Huntington High’s defense so successful.
“They’ve got enough speed and skill on the back end of their defense that they can afford to play more guys in the box,” Dingess said. “We’re not able to do that. We can’t man up on people like they can. If people get behind them, they can make up for it, so they normally have more guys at the point of attack.”
While the Timberwolves had trouble moving the ball, Huntington High’s ground game got rolling behind Paden Christian, who led a balanced effort with 114 yards on 14 carries. Each starting rusher for the Highlanders recorded a touchdown.
Charles Crawford, whose 1-yard touchdown capped the scoring, also finished with 85 yards.
Huntington High’s offense didn’t rack up big numbers in the first half, but the Highlanders scored 17 points in the second quarter to take a 24-6 lead into the locker room.
The biggest momentum swing came in a three-minute stretch of the second quarter when Huntington High seized control.
Huntington High quarterback Clark Wilson found Corey Romans for a 25-yard score on a third-down seam route to make it 14-6 and the Highlander defense forced a subsequent three-and-out.
On the punt snap, Spring Valley punter Kyle O’Neal went to a knee to field the snap and the Highlanders took over at the visitor’s 7-yard line. Two plays later, Nick Tubbs went into the end zone to make it 21-6 before a 32-yard field goal by Zach Stevens wrapped up the first-half scoring.
“We squandered away a couple opportunities — an interception, a dropped completion — and after that, they capitalized and it snowballed really quick.”
After giving up a touchdown on the opening drive of the game, Huntington’s defense dominated the rest of the half.
Colby Webb ripped off a 64-yard run on Spring Valley’s first play from scrimmage to set up a 3-yard touchdown pass from Tyler Brown to Brandon Ash that opened the scoring and gave Spring Valley a 6-0 lead.
On the pass, Huntington High’s Nick Tubbs deflected the pass, which was originally intended for Tyler Robertson, but the ball bounded into the arms of Ash for the score.
Christian ripped off a 31-yard touchdown run to put the Highlanders up 7-6 at the end of the first quarter and start a string of 24 straight Huntington High points to end the half.
Over the final five drives of the half, the Timberwolves had just five total yards. The lack of offensive progress for the Timberwolves resulted in short fields for the Highlanders, who started each of their last four drives of the half in Spring Valley territory.
It was the second-consecutive week the Highlanders had used the battle of field position to its advantage.
“Field position plays a big part of the success on Friday nights and on Saturdays and Sundays, too,” Seals said. “It’s a battle and Zach (Stevens) is doing a great job of that for us and the defense is getting stops.”
Prior to the game, Huntington High assistant coach Toby Holbrook was honored for his 50 years of service as a coach. He has coached at Huntington High School, Huntington East High School and is now an assistant coach with the Highlanders.
Players, coaches and family lined the field to the 50-yard line for the pre-game ceremony.