Wright City dispatches unfamiliar Kansas school


DISRUPTIVE DEFENSE — Wright City senior lineman Alex Polston pressures the quarterback during the Wildcats’ 22-7 win over Bishop Ward last Friday. Polston also contributed on offense, scoring a two-point conversion run in the fourth quarter. Derrick Forsythe photo.
By: 
Derrick Forsythe
Staff Writer

Typically accustomed to being well-versed in his team’s opposition, Wright City Football Coach Jeff Sargent was faced with a unique challenge last Friday. The Wildcats welcomed Kansas-based Bishop Ward Academy in a matchup that was both spontaneous and unfamiliar.

The end result was a 22-7 victory for Wright City, but the triumph was much the result of a learn-as-you-go approach, as the Wildcats improved to 2-0. They were originally scheduled to play Van-Far, who cancelled due to having to quarantine.

“It’s always hard to game plan for a team that you don’t know anything about,” said Sargent. “We had their film from last year, but they didn’t run the same offense. It was very difficult, and you could kind of see toward the end of the first quarter and early second, we started to figure it out defensively and offensively.”

Bishop Ward delivered the first punch, pounding the ball downfield in the run game to move ahead 7-0 on its first drive. The Cyclones continued to experience success, until Sargent was able to make the necessary adjustments.

“The first two or three drives for them — they had us on the ropes,” said Sargent. “Our kids showed poise and didn’t panic, which is a testament to how much we prepare them for these type of situations.”

Wright City blocked a field goal attempt by its visitors to open the second quarter.

With the defense buying time for the offense to settle in, the Wildcats’ balance and depth began to show, led by junior quarterback Hayden Beck, who dispersed the ball to six different receivers throughout the night. He finished 14 of 19 passes, with 196 yards and two touchdowns, to one interception.

“He was throwing slants, fades and out routes, and those are not very easy throws to make,” said Sargent. “He just had a great game, and it shows what he’s able to do. His arm talent was the reason we were able to get so many people involved.”

While Beck kept Bishop Ward on its heels, the Wildcats’ defense actually punched its first ticket to the end zone. Sophomore linebacker Demetrice Le Noir returned an interception 32 yards for the go-ahead touchdown, tying the score at 7-7 early in the second quarter.

“I thought our defense started to come together in particular, and I have to give them huge credit,” said Sargent. “We’ve got guys at every level who can make big plays. Eric Jensen gave us a huge spark, and Baylee Ramey did great this week too. It definitely makes it difficult for teams to run on us when we’ve got those big guys up front.”

Junior receiver Jake Smith, who exited the Week One win at Clopton early, demonstrated what he is capable of given full health. Smith caught the first of his two touchdown passes, a 43-yard strike from Beck, with just 9.6 seconds remaining before halftime.

Wright City held a 14-7 lead until the beginning of the fourth quarter, when Smith snagged a 22-yard touchdown pass. Senior lineman Alex Polston punched in the two-point conversion to secure the win for the Wildcats.

The combination of junior receiver Ian Wolff and Smith spread the Bishop Ward defense thin, but Sargent says the full potential has not yet been displayed.

“We still haven’t had all three of our receivers healthy for a full game,” said Sargent. “If we do, I’m curious to see how defenses are going to stop all three of them.”

Against Bishop Ward, Smith finished with 106 yards on three receptions, while Wolff caught four passes for 58 yards. The Wildcats are eagerly awaiting the return of receiver Michael Hicks.

“It seemed like anytime Jake or Ian ran a fade route, they were open,” said Sargent. “We just have to find a way to get it to them. We really left several touchdowns on the board.”

Wolff, who is playing his first year on varsity, also made a statement defensively, with one of the Wildcats’ three sacks. Beck and Ramey also each recorded a sack.

“Ian had a phenomenal second half at linebacker for us,” said Sargent. “When you look at all that in a nutshell you realize he is getting better fast.”

Senior Dalton Wiser led the Wright City rushing attack with 94 yards on 17 carries, while Jeremiah Davis churned up 43 yards on four carries.

Defensively, Le Noir had five tackles and nine assisted, while Beck recorded three tackles and seven assisted.

“We got dramatically better from Week One to Two,” added Sargent.

The Wildcats will travel to Winfield this Friday.

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