Wolves cruise to win to open football season
By Neal A. Shipman
Watford City scored three times in the first quarter as the Wolves’ varsity football team handed Justin Johnsrud, their new head coach, his first win of the season on Friday night. The Wolves cruised to a 33-0 win as Watford City picked up 282 yards of total offense, while holding the Cougars to 167 yards.
Watford City got on the scoreboard early in the first quarter as Dalton Wright took the handoff from Keegan Thompson and scampered 49 yards to the end zone.
Brandon Sandvick scored the Wolves’ second touchdown of the quarter on a 20-yard yard. And then with 1:27 remaining on the clock in the first quarter, Thompson hooked up with Brennan Leaming on a 16-yard pass play to give the Wolves a 21-0 lead.
“Offensively, we had some great plays in the first quarter. I thought we got tired in the second quarter which accounted for some high snaps and mental lapses on the offensive side,” stated Justin Johnsrud, Wolves’ head coach. “Most of our mistakes are things we can work on and get better at in practice. Keegan Thompson had a good game at the quarterback spot with some good scrambles and he threw the ball well. But he still needs to work on making his read and getting the ball out quicker.”
After a scoreless second quarter, Watford City would score its final two touchdowns in the third quarter. Leaming was again the target for Thompson as the pair connected on a 3-yard pass play with 4:30 left in the quarter. Thompson then capped off the Wolves’ final scoring drive on a 29-yard run.
“Friday’s game against Heart River had its ups and downs,” stated Johnsrud. “Overall, I was pleased. We played very physical on both sides of the ball which is something we have been talking about all preseason. I thought we executed very well offensively on about a dozen plays, and not so good on about 25.”
But even with a first win under his belt, Johnsrud believes that there is a lot of room for improvement as the Wolves move into their season.
“We need to do a better job of taking care of the ball and holding on to it,” stated Johnsrud. “It could have been the first game jitters, but it is something we need to correct and will work on in practice this week. I was pleased with the attitude and effort put forth by the players and saw some really good things we can build on and some kinks we need to work out.”
Offensively, Thompson was five of six in passing for 68 yards and two touchdowns and was Watford City’s leading rusher as he carried the ball 17 times for 112 yards and one touchdown. Brennan Leaming had three receptions for 36 yards, while Dalton Wright had two receptions for 32 yards.
Watford City’s defense, which recorded its first shutout of the season, drew big praise from Johnsrud.
“The entire defensive front seven had an excellent game,” stated Johnsrud. “They had good penetration and wrapped up when tackling the ball carriers.”
Dalton Wright led the defensive effort for Watford City with three solo tackles and six assists, while Beau Heiser had four solo tackles and three assists. Derrike Hayden had the lone interception for Watford City’s defense, along with two solo tackles and two assists.
“Defensively, we played very well. Our starting defense didn’t give up many yards,” stated Johnsrud. “Coach Suter did a good job of getting those guys ready.”
Watford City will be hosting the Minot High JV this Saturday afternoon at 3 p.m. at Fridley Field, and Johnsrud expects a good game.
“Minot was one game away from making it to the AAA championship last season, and they have a really talented group of athletes back for this season, so their JV should be a solid team,” states Johnsrud. “We will need to shore up our blocking assignments this week and take better care of the ball on Saturday to be successful.”
1st 2nd 3rd 4th Final
Heart River 0 0 0 0 0
Watford City 21 0 12 0 33