War Eagle running back Jeremiah Thomas dives forward.
Wakulla defense brings down the Rickards back.
Photos by Ken Fields
By CHRIS SAVARY
The undefeated Wakulla War Eagles (5-0) were on the road for the second straight week taking the short drive north to Gene Cox Stadium in Tallahassee to take on the Rickards Raiders (2-3).
The scoring started early on in the first quarter for the War Eagles. After a strong opening drive, Wakulla scored at the 10:13 mark of the first quarter on a 38 yard strike from senior quarterback Haden Klees to receiver Del Zanders for a touchdown, and with the extra point good from kicker Luis Quintonilla moved the War Eagles up 7-0.
After an aggressive defensive stand by Wakulla the offense again moved down the field just three short minutes later scoring on a 7-yard touchdown catch by Nehemiah Chandler from Klees. This touchdown and extra point moved the War Eagles ahead 14-0 as the first quarter came to a close.
The Rickards Raiders would not be put down that easily as they took their possession early in the second deep into War Eagle territory and capitalized with a 27 yard field goal putting the score at 14-3 with a little over 9 minutes to go in the second. After a couple of stalled drives between the two teams Rickards again closed the gap around the four minute mark of the second quarter when the Raiders running back took to the endzone on a 7-yard touchdown rush.
The Raiders attempted the extra point but it was partially blocked and no good making the score 14-9 in favor of the War Eagles.
Wakulla would not go quietly into the half scoring with just 19 seconds on the clock on a 25-yard dart from Klees to Chandler for his second touchdown grab of the game. The extra point from Quintonilla was good and the score at the half was Wakulla 21 to Rickards 9.
The third quarter was a heavy sided defensive affair with both teams having stalled drives, however the War Eagles were able to extend the lead on a 13-yard touchdown catch by Jeremiah Thomas from Klees. The extra point was missed and the score settled at 27-9 in favor of Wakulla at the end of the third.
The fourth quarter opened up with a great defensive effort out of the War Eagles putting the ball back in the offenses hands. They stretched the lead on a 19-yard touchdown rush by Thomas and a successful 2-point conversion by Devontae Roberts put Wakulla on top 35-9 with 11:50 to go in the game. Rickards tried to claw their way back into it with two touchdown grabs late in the fourth but it would not be enough as the War Eagle were on top 35-22 as time expired.
The War Eagles now move to 6-0 on the year as the late season push towards playoff football begins with just four regular season games remaining.
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
Overall Player of the Week was Jeremiah Thomas, who had 16 carries for 255 yards and a rushing touchdown, and had 3 catches for 59 yards and another touchdown.
Offensive Player of the Week was Mason Blair, with the offensive lineman grading out at 82%.
Defensive Player of the Week was Jordan Tanner, who had 7 tackles and a sack.
Special Teams Player of the Week was punter Owen Klees, who boomed a 59-yard punt that was downed on Rickards’ 1-yard line.
Other notable players included quarterback Haden Klees, who went 19 of 35 passing for 242 yards and 4 touchdowns. He threw his first interception of the season in the game on a slant and go that was jumped by the Rickards safety.
Receiver Nehemiah Chandler had 4 catches for 50 yards and 2 touchdowns, and Delvon Zanders had 6 catches for 50 yards and a touchdown.
On defense, linebacker Herschel Blackmon had a great night with 8 tackles and 4 sacks.
NEXT UP: ST. JOHN PAUL II
Wakulla will be back at J.D. Jones Stadium next Friday night hosting the St. John Paul II Panthers.
Wakulla Head Coach Scott Klees said the Panthers are 0-4 on the season but they’ve been in every game they played.
“The defense is extremely good,” Klees said. “And they have a very athletic quarterback – he can throw and run. Our defense is going to have to stop him from running.
“On offense, we’re gonna have to be patient and take what they give us,” Klees said. “It’s gonna be another tough game.”
Wakulla Head Football Coach Scott Klees
FROM THE COACHLast week: War Eagles played well against a very athletic and talented Rickards team.
Scouting report: John Paul II has a very good defense and a very athletic quarterback who can run.
Keys to victory: Offense needs to be patient, take what the JP II defense gives them. On defense, contain the JP quarterback.