By Lamonte Dewindt
From the opening possession on Friday, it was clear that the formula for the Washington High School football team was going to be to run, run and run some more.
The Eagles struggled to score in non-league play but showed they were not fazed by their early-season struggles in a 41-16 win over visiting Marshall in each team’s Academic Athletic Association opener on Friday.
Washington senior running back Jerron Williams followed a dominant effort by the Eagles’ offensive line and ran for 175 yards and three touchdowns, and also caught a screen pass for a touchdown.
“We got the best offensive line,” Williams said. “For the past three years we’ve had the best offensive line. That’s the best part of this team right now.”
Ricky Lee Johnson also ran eight times for 131 yards and a touchdown for the Eagles (1-3, 1-0), and if not for continuous cramps, likely would have finished with much more.
“We worked really hard for it,” said Washington head coach Taylan Plasch. “We just needed to play four quarters and we did that today,”
Washington scored on its first offensive possession on a 7-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Simon Ma to Thomas Flores, but Marshall (1-4, 0-1) answered back quickly on of a 69-yard touchdown run by Quintrell Anderson on their second play from scrimmage. After a successful two-point conversion, the Phoenix were up 8-7.
It was the last time they saw the lead.
Washington rattled off 20 unanswered points, capped by a 15-yard touchdown reception by Williams to give the Eagles a 27-8 lead.
Marshall scored on the following possession when quarterback Joey Sagiao found 6-foot-5 wide receiver Albert Collins on a 1-yard fade route that cut the lead to 27-16, but any chance of a second-half comeback was eliminated by frequent Marshall turnovers and an opportunistic Washington defense.
Ma, who also played on defense, intercepted his Marshall quarterback counterpart Sagiao three times.
While the Marshall defense allowed 354 rushing yards, the Phoenix countered with 217 yards on the ground, led by Anderson team-high 168 yards. Many times, the junior looked like a man amongst boys, bouncing off Washington tacklers to gain extra yards.
While the Phoenix looked far from the championship contender head coach Nicholas Wilson predicted before the season, the first-year coach is still optimistic.
“Nothing [has] changed – same guys. We’ll be fine,” Wilson said. “We have to regroup. [On] Aug. 1, I knew eight of these guys. I’m not backing down from that. I still think we got the best team in the league.”
Until they regroup, it will be Williams and his teammates who get to enjoy the victory.
“It’s a great win,” Williams said. “People think we don’t have what it takes to go back [to Turkey Day]. We’re back, we never left, and we’re still the best.”
W: 8:25 – Thomas Flores 7-yard pass from Simon Ma (Mondo Bayasqalon kick)
M: 6:55 – Quintrell Anderson 69-yard run (successful conversion)
W: 4:35 – Jerron Williams 15-yard run (Bayasqalon kick)
W: 3:48 – Ricky Lee Johnson 35-yard run (kick failed)
W: 2:14 – Williams 15-yard pass from Ma (Bayasqalon kick)
M: 0:05 – Albert Collins 1-yard pass from Joey Sagiao (Draker Donaldson run on conversion)
W: 1:50 – Williams 10-yard run (Bayasqalon kick)
W: 11:13 – Williams 6-yard run (Bayasqalon kick)