Down 36-32 at halftime to the Bulverde Living Rock Academy Bobcats in the teams’ TAPPS 6-Man, D-III state semifinals game Friday night at Temple’s Holy Trinity Football Field, the Weatherford Christian School Lions (12-1) faced the possibility of a premature exit from postseason contention.
However, the deficit would not shake a Lions squad hungry for a chance at redemption following the team’s loss to Baytown Christian in the 2018 state finals, one which gave way to WCS’ rallying cry “Unfinished Business” this season.
The Lions in turn came out and dominated the second half, scoring 12 and 22 points in the third and fourth quarter, respectively, while WCS’ defense pitched a shutout during the final two frames.
Lions’ Head Coach Stephen Cox said the Bobcats’ offense admittedly flustered his team early, largely in part because of a complex scheme with ample pre-snap motion.
“They had a scheme with a lot of moving parts,” Cox said.
“They were crossing our guys up. We were in man coverage and they would cross us up, so it was getting hard. We were making a lot of silly mistakes in our coverage.
“We had a good rush on the quarterback, and everything was going well, but we were losing sight of our guys. They’d either cross us up and hit a short route or they would extend the play, our guys would start looking in the backfield and the receiver would take off and they’d throw a deep pass on us.
“We knew it was going to be a handful to take care of, but we came out in the second half and did a lot better job with the coverage.”
Cox said the Lions’ defense made several halftime adjustments related to coverage as well as pressuring LRA’s quarterback, changes which paid dividends during the final two quarters.
“Our defense really stepped up,” Cox said.
“Jarret Foland had a rough first half, but come the second half he really clamped down on his guy and stayed with him. They tried him a couple times deep in the second half, and one of them he intercepted and two others he knocked down.
“We made a little adjustment with Drew Meeks on how he was rushing, bringing him from a little wider angle, and Drew had a heckuva game. His stats weren’t crazy but what he did with that quarterback, not letting him get out and run was a big deal.
“We scored and then held them on their first series of the second half and then we scored again. Then Jaxon Foland came up with a huge interception late in the third to really start extending our lead.”
While the team’s defense came through in the clutch late, WCS’ offense made sure the team kept pace from start to finish, racking up 446 rushing yards (out of 550 total) and eight TDs on the ground.
Cox said the Lions’ rushing attack made great use of differing styles of senior Wyatt Berry (212 yards, four TDs on 24 carries) and junior Colton Hasenjeager (163 rushing yards, two TDs on 14 carries).
“We’d line up in a wing set and leave the end unblocked, and Jackson Floyd was either gonna hand it to Wyatt Berry or use a double option between Wyatt and Colton,” Cox said.
“A lot of times [LRA] started clamping down on Berry because we were running straight forward at them. But Floyd is really good about [shadowing] Berry and then pitching it out, so Colton got a lot of his yards with his quickness out there. That kept working, any time we were in a bind we’d go to that play.”
In addition to his success toting the rock, Berry paced WCS’ defense with 15 tackles, while Meeks came away with a sack.
The Lions also came away with a pair of picks, courtesy of Jarrett Foland and sophomore Jaxon Foland, in addition to the team’ pass defense collecting 10 defended passes.
WCS advances and plays the Fredericksburg Heritage Christian Eagles (12-0) in the TAPPS 6-Man, D-III state finals at 11 a.m. Thursday at Midway ISD Panther Stadium.