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Warriors take down Lumberjacks

THE POCAHONTAS COUNTY High School Warrior football team hit the road Friday night, heading to Richwood to take down the Lumberjacks and bring home The Axe – and that is exactly what they did. The final score of the game was Warriors 43, Lumberjacks 16, giving the Warriors possession of the double bit trophy for the next year. Cynthia Broce-Kelley photo

The Axe returns to Dunmore

Aaron Pugh
Contributing Writer

If the first couple of games this year involved rebuilding, and the victory over East Hardy in week four was redemption, then week five of the 2018 season was definitely a reward. With a 2-2 record the Warriors had a lot to prove, and going back to the loss at home to the Lumberjacks in 2017, they also had The Axe to regain. This double bit trophy goes home with the winner of this game every year, dating back to the late 1990s. It definitively has more Pocahontas County wins written on the handle than Richwood. The Warriors wanted it back going into the lastest entry in the longest running series in Warrior Football.

The Lumberjacks came into the game with a 2017 playoff berth, and a 2-2 record in 2018. They won their first two games, 46-36 over Webster County and 37-0 over Gilmer County. In games three and four they fell first to Fayetteville, 28-41, and then Midland Trail, 8-44. The Lumberjacks lean heavily on some excellent athletes, primarily the firm of junior wide-out #8 Michael McGee; sophomore quarterback #1 Caleb Jantuah; and senior running back #22 Jeremiah Johnston.

With the young Warrior team, suddenly even younger with the lack of junior end and guard #51 Reese Kelley out for the week due to an injury, and looking at 90 yards in penalties from week four, they had a lot to overcome. But when the Warriors took the field at Richwood, like so many teams before them, they showed up ready to work and immediately took control of the game.

Pocahontas left no doubt that they had gotten many of the bugs out of their system, dominating the line of scrimmage and firmly controlling the air game on defense.

Offensively the Warriors racked up 23 points to Richwood’s 8 – in the first half.

After a couple of series feeling each other out, the Warriors drew first blood with a field goal by junior quarterback (linebacker, kicker, punter and part-time running back) #8 Dillon Shinaberry from 26 yards out. Then a few minutes later Shinaberry was able to punch in a touchdown on a six yard run, set up by a 21-yard pass between Shinaberry and senior wide-out #1 J.D. Sharp. Score 10-0.

Later in the first quarter senior running back #34 Jacob Jones decided to get in on the act with a 39-yard off tackle run to the right for a touchdown, followed by a point after by Shinaberry. Score 17-0.

The Warriors played an effective game, but not a perfect one. Part way through the second quarter, the Lumberjacks were able to make an interception, that they took to the Warrior 13-yard line and scored two plays later, on a four-yard run by Jantuah, topped by a two-point conversion pass between Jantuah and McGee. Score 17-8.

Pocahontas County quick-ly re-established its claim to the momentum of the game when Shinaberry kept the ball on an option to the left for a 23-yard touchdown to send the Warriors into halftime with spirits soaring. Score 23-8.

The Warriors came out after halftime and put their foot on the gas.

After kicking off to the Lumberjacks, the Warrior defense held the first Lumberjack offensive drive at bay. Junior outside linebacker #83 Brody Buzzard ended the drive and repaid Richwood for their interception in the first half with one for the Warriors, snagging the ball on the Warrior 45 and buzzing up field to the Lumberjack 41 yard line, giving Shinaberry and company good starting field position. Two plays later sophomore running back #10 Keaton Baldwin got in on the act with a 39-yard off tackle rush, capped by a Shinaberry kick. Score 30-8.

The Lumberjacks had their last gasp of hope in the next offensive series, putting together an effective drive, culminating in a one-yard touchdown and two point conversion by Jantuah. Score 30-16.

The next series of offense ended when Shinaberry kept the ball and made another powerful statement, on what was already an excellent night for the first year quarterback, with a sweep to the right and a 16-yard touchdown. Score 36-16.

The final nail in the coffin came in the fourth quarter, after senior defensive tackle #71 Kolton Workman blocked a punt, recovered by #10 Baldwin playing linebacker, at the Lumberjack 26-yard line. After a short offensive series these two would tally up the final touchdown with a six-yard run by Baldwin off-tackle right behind Workman, topped by a kick by Shinaberry.
Final score Warriors 43, Lumberjacks 16.

The Axe is back in Dunmore.

The Warriors cleaned up a lot of mistakes, only having two penalties for a total of 20 yards compared to the 11for 90 yards in their last game. More importantly, they put up impressive numbers in offense on the night, with 433 yards of offense to Richwood’s 187.

In the air Shinaberry made five of eight passing attempts for 110 yards. Senior #8 Kody Kiner had two for 48 yards, sophomore #88 Dalton Hendrick had one for 30 yards, JD Sharp claimed one for 21 and Baldwin had one for 11. Richwood was held to two out of 16 attempts for 41 yards, both to McGee.

The run game for Pocahontas was dominating. A host of Warriors carried the rock behind the blocking unit consisting of: senior guard #71 Kolton Workman, junior tackle #63 Dustin Fitzgerald and sophomores – half back #32 Jacob Barkley, guard #64 John Fitzgerald, center #66 Jesse Bostic and tackle #74 Jarrett Lucanbaugh.

Shinaberry led the way on the ground with 15 carries for 138 yards and three touchdowns. Baldwin had nine carries for 56 yards and two touchdowns and Jones also carried the ball nine times, for 55 yards and one touchdown. Sharp rounded out the varsity running backs with six carries for 41 yards.

Freshman quarterback #2 Cash Keating stepped into the game late in the fourth quarter leading the JV unit and carried the ball once for 25 yards, complemented by freshman running back #5 Cage Burdette concluded the night’s festivities with one carry for five yards. A total of 323 yards rushing, to Richwoods 146.

The Warriors next host the Chargers of Bath County, Virginia, September 28. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.

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