Jeff Nelson For the Journal Review
Western Boone had too many options in a 55-9 football win over Crawfordsville Friday. The options were in their option running game, as the Stars move to 3-1 on the season and 1-1 in the Sagamore Conference. “Western Boone runs that triple option,” Athenians coach Mike Hammons said. “There are three keys, and if you don’t get to all three of them on every play, something comes back to hurt you.”
The Stars used a stable-full of runners to pile up 331 yards of rushing offense, led by Cameron Cline with 113 yards and three touchdowns on 18 carries. “Our running success is a testament to our offensive line,” first-year Stars coach Justin Pelley said. “We didn’t have a single returning starter on that line, and we’re not that big up front, so they are really working hard on their technique.” While Cline was pounding the middle of the line for his yards, sophomore Nathanial Bye worked outside for 67 yards on seven carries. Riggs Baxter made the most of his five carries, scoring twice and running for 49 yards. The Athenians offense did not find the going nearly as easy, as the rushing totals were a net 17 yards after four sacks were taken off the total. Tyler Gudell was the leading rusher with 21 yards on five attempts, followed by Robert Manns with 19 yards on four carries and Chandler Snow with 17 yards on five carries.
The Stars took the opening kickoff 61 yards on 10 plays to score, and took a dozen plays to go 63 yards for their second score on their next possession.
The Athenians, who fall to 0-4 on the season and 0-2 in the conference, took their second drive and drove all the way into the red zone, looking at a first and goal from the Stars 8-yard line. A penalty, however, pushed them back an extra 10 yards and they had to settle for a Josue Cardenas 26-yard field goal. “We should have had a touchdown,” Hammons said. “Our offense was clicking, and it would have come at a great time.” Crawfordsville wouldn’t find the end zone until the fourth quarter, when quarterback Travis Harris connected with P.J. Schafer for a 17-yard score.
Harris finished the night 12-of-25 for 95 yards and the score. Schafer had four catches for 65 yards, while Garrett Phelps and Snow each had three receptions.
Stars quarterback Logan Wethington was 7-of-13 for 146 yards, including a 63-yard scoring strike to Baxter. The senior also rushed for 57 yards and one touchdown. “He (Wethington) was playing defense last year,” Pelley noted. “He’s a new quarterback but he can throw it well. He’s a downhill runner and throws hard. With our weapons on offense, it is hard to key on any one guy.” The Stars players and team speed were noted by Hammons. “Their speed on the edges offensively got to us,” he said, “and their speed defensively counteracted everything we tried to do. They are a good team, and Coach Pelley has done a good job.” The Stars extended several drives with third and fourth-down conversions, finishing the game 6-of-11 on third and 3-of-4 on fourth down plays. That advantage gave them a nearly 10-minute advantage in time of possession.
Defensively, the Stars were led by Dylan Kortman and Gage Veach with six tackles each, while the Athenians got a big game from Manns, who led everyone with 14 total tackles, including a dozen solo stops. Caden Jones added a dozen, all solo, and had three tackles for loss. “The offense is clicking a little bit better,” Hammons said, “and Mann’s mobility is better. We’ve just got to keep at it, be consistent and persistent.” Both teams are back in Sagamore Conference action next week, as the Stars take on Danville while the Athenians travel to Southmont.