By Michael Pineda
Okeene proved to be just what the doctor ordered for the Southwest Covenant football team.
The Patriots marched into the district win column with a 52-28 win over the Whippets Thursday night. Southwest Covenant led 46-6 early in the fourth quarter after Andrew Arnould dragged down Okeene quarterback William Woolley in the end zone.
The Whippets would get some morale boosting scores against the younger Southwest Covenant players, but it was much too little and far too late as the Patriots improved to 3-3 overall and 1-1 in district.
The win came on the heels of a loss to Covington-Douglas in the district opener last week.
“I think we got a lot better tonight,” Patriot head coach John Jensen said. “I really think we executed. It was good to see that. It was really good to see us run the ball and throw the ball when we needed to. Sort of do, just what we wanted to do. And we haven’t got to do that a lot this year. That was nice.”
Gabe Ross provided a sign of things to come on the opening kickoff as he returned the ball 68 yards for a 6-0 lead. In the early going, Jensen leaned on Ross and the running game as the Patriots built a lead. Caden Wehmuller added the second score on a 32-yard run for a 12-0 lead.
While the Whippets had some early success in the running game, it was unable to move the ball on the ground consistently until late in the contest.
“We started settling in,” Jensen said. “You know how kids get all wound up and excited. One didn’t do what he was supposed to do, and a big play happens. It’s great to see them settle in and play defense.
“We match up very well with this football team. It was good to our kids fly around and play full speed. It was great.”
When Okeene opted to test the secondary, the Patriots feasted with three interceptions. Trace Brunk, Nate Gerber and Zeke Williams all had picks and Jacob Schmitz had a fumble recovery during the contest.
The Southwest Covenant squandered two scoring opportunities in the first half. The offense turned the ball over on downs after having 2nd and 1 at the Okeene 5. The Pats also fumbled the ball away in the red zone.
Sophomore quarterback Asher Hoover got the team back on track, hitting Brunk on a 23-yard scoring strike over the middle late in the first half. Following an interception by Gerber, Zeke Williams ran the ball in from 13 yards to lift the Patriots to a 24-0 lead going into the half.
Hoover would add two more touchdowns in the second half, hitting Brunk on a 49-yard score and Gerber on a 19-yard score.
“He did well tonight,” Jensen said of Hoover. “A couple of those plays were checks at the of line scrimmage. He just looked at the receiver and did a check and threw it out there. I thought he started throwing much better tonight. I am excited for him.”
Ross and Grady Edmondson tacked on touchdown runs to account for the rest of the Patriot scoring.
Okeene’s Harley Karbs made the score a little more respectable with three fourth quarter touchdowns and all four Whippet scores. He finished with 109 yards on 14 carries.
“Eight-man is an interesting game because we don’t get JV because the teams are so far apart,” Jensen said. “So, when you have the opportunity to let play everybody you want to let them play. And we did this at Alex and were able to get our younger guys playing.”
Ross led the team in rushing with 96 yards on 10 carries. Edmondson added 80 yards on nine totes. Hoover finished 5-of-12 for 117 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. Brunk led the team in receiving with 72 yards on two receptions.
Southwest Covenant will return to action Friday when it hosts Canton. The Tigers were blanked by Covington-Douglas 36-0 Thursday night.