Warriors play hard, win big against Tucker

Pocahontas County High School Warriors’ Senior Captains #51 Reese Kelley, #88 Dalton Hendrick, #83 Brody Buzzard and #6 Dillon Shinaberry walk to the center of the field to meet the Tucker County Mountain Lions for Friday night’s coin toss. The Warriors won the toss, elected to receive, and it was “game on” from there. Final score: Warriors 54, Mountain Lions 6. Photo courtesy of Cynthia Broce-Kelley

Aaron Pugh
Contributing Writer
The Pocahontas County High School Warriors showed up for their home opener Friday night to face off against the Mountain Lions of Tucker County High School – and showed off. Following the 2018 season’s middle of the road final record of 5-5, which started with a loss to the Mountain Lions, the Warrior football team made a statement that they were there to work, to push each other, to push themselves, and left no doubt as to who the dominant team was on the field.

Energy and anticipation of the kickoff was thick in the air – like the smell of buttered pop-corn. The Warriors took the field with all the pomp and pageantry that you could ask for and an electric edge that was almost palpable as Captains Dillon Shinaberry, Reese Kelley, Brody Buzzard and Dustin Fitzgerald went to center field.

Pocahontas won the toss and elected to receive.

The opening kickoff was fielded at the Warrior 15-yard line by Senior Wide Receiver #83 Brody Buzzard, who sprinted for 30 yards, setting up good field position on the Warrior’s 45-yard line, where Senior Quarterback #6 Dillon Shinaberry and company got to work.

Setting the tempo early, the first play was a 15-yard gash by Shinaberry up the right and through the TCHS defense. Eight plays later Buzzard, grandson of longtime PCHS Coach Jerry Buzzard, drew first blood with a 2-yard jet sweep touchdown, followed by a point after by #14 Junior Jacob Davis. 7-0 Warriors.

Following Davis’ kickoff, the Warriors forced the Mountain Lions to a four and out and a total of -4 yards of offense. A Tucker County punt allowed Pocahontas to set up shop on their own 40 yard line. PCHS quickly marched down the field and five plays later, including a 30-yard connection between Shinaberry and Sophomore Wide Receiver #5 Cage Burdette, punched another touchdown in, this time a 15-yard carry by Shinaberry on an outside sweep to the right. The point after by Davis was good. Score at the end of the first quarter: 14-0 Warriors.

In the second quarter, the Warriors continued to mash down on the throttle. A nine-play series fizzled out for the Mountain Lions with a failure to complete on 4th and 4 on the Warrior 24. The Warriors then took command with an 11-play drive right down the field, capped off with a 2-yard touchdown by Shinaberry and point after by Davis. 21-0 Warriors.

Special teams picked up things a notch as Davis put the remaining kickoffs of the night through the back of the end zone – starting with his third – forcing the Mountain Lions to start on their own 20-yard line. Not to be outdone, Matt Buzzard’s defense stepped up when two plays into the TCHS drive Senior Corner #88 Dalton Hendrick intercepted a pass by Quarterback #19 William Hood on the Mountain Lion 28-yard line and ran it in for a touchdown. The point after kick succumbed to a bad snap. 27-0 Warriors.

After the kickoff by Davis into the end zone, the Mountain Lions went back on offense on their 20-yard line and, on play five of their drive, Hendrick struck again, this time forcing a receiver to cough-up the ball on the TCHS 47-yard line which was promptly pounced on by Junior Linebackers # 10 Keaton Baldwin and #24 Logan Ryder. Six plays later Baldwin slipped in the fifth Warrior touchdown of the half from 3 yards out, Davis’ kick after was good to make the score 34-0.

The finish of the stellar first half by the Warriors came after #42 Josh Calloway was forced to fumble when Shinaberry, Baldwin and DE #51 Reese Kelley pummeled the Mountain Lion running back behind the line of scrimmage, and Kelley recovered the ball. Two plays later Shinaberry found the end zone around the right side after bulldozing for 16 yards. Davis’s kick after was good. Score at half time, 41-0 Warriors.

The second half saw a drop in scoring as the Warriors began to rotate through their depth chart to allow younger players a chance at the Mountain Lions. The third quarter saw no scores by either side. The top highlight being an interception by Sophmore Safety #4 Frankie Burgess to stall out one Mountain Lion offensive series. Early in the fourth, Baldwin capped off a 10-series drive with a 3-yard touchdown up the middle – point after by Davis. 48-0 Warriors.

Later in the 4th quarter, the Mountain Lions found success after a six-play drive when Quarterback #19 William Hood connected with Wide Receiver #44 Jeremy Liller in the end zone for a 25-yard passing touchdown, but failed to complete the two point conversion. Score 48-6.

The final foray by the Warriors was when the JV unit took the field to set up their offense. On the third play of the series, up-and-coming Sophomore Quarterback #2 Cash Keating rocketed up the right side for a 35-yard touchdown, followed by a failed two-point conversion and a short defensive stand by the Warriors. The final score of the night was 54-6.

The stats on the night were very one sided in favor of Pocahontas County and their run game. Doug Burns’ Warrior offense totaled 346 yards: 318 on 46 rushing attempts and 28 yards on 2 of 4 passing; averaging 6.9 yards per carry and 14 yards per reception. The Mountain Lions were held to 151 yards of offense which they got predominantly in the air. They were held to 3 yards on 14 attempts on the ground and 148 yards receiving on 14 of 28; an average of 0.2 yards per carry and 10 yards per catch.

Leaders for the Warriors included Shinaberry with 132 yards on 16 carries; Baldwin with 125 on 19 carries; Keating with 35 yards on 1 carry; #24 Logan Ryder with 19 yards on 5 carries; Buzzard with 4 yards on 3 carries; and Burdette with 1 carry for 1 yard. Passing was limited with little need for it. But Shinaberry completed 2 of 3 for 28 yards, targeting Burdette for 30 yards and Buzzard for -2.

Defense was led by a stout front six that held TCHS to 3 yards rushing and a greatly improved secondary that faced a decidedly pass heavy offense and held it to 6 points. Ryder led the defense in solo tackles, and Burgess and Hendrick each had an interception; Kelley and Baldwin/Ryder recovered 2 of the 4 TCHS fumbles.

An exceptional night of Warrior football.

Senior Wide Receiver and Defensive Back Brody Buzzard summed up the evening well and gave us a glimpse into the game plan for week two.

“I think as a team we played energetic against Tucker,” he said. “Our offense could score at any time, and our defense claimed four turnovers.  This Friday, our defense needs to be able to adjust to an ample amount of formations and be able to stop the deep passing threat.”

The Warriors will next face a stout and proud program in the form of the Moorefield Yellow Jackets who will travel to face PCHS at home Friday night at 7 p.m. 

Please join us for more Warrior football.

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