Knights’ defense huddles with Cougars in 60-14 playoff romp

Knights’ defense huddles with Cougars in 60-14 playoff romp

Image Credit: Justin Smith

When an offense posts 48 first-half points against a playoff opponent, the casual fan might immediately start to think about the incredible offensive numbers that must have been posted.

However, in the West Holmes Knights Div. III playoff opener against Sylvania Southview on Friday, Oct. 30 at Knights Stadium at West Holmes High School, that point total was spurred by a defensive effort that paved the way to a West Holmes 60-14 win.

After watching the first half, some might think Knights junior middle linebacker Elisha Baldridge was lining up in the Cougars’ backfield, or perhaps he was involved in their huddles because the talented tackler was crawling all over anyone who touched the ball, most of the tackles coming 3-5 yards deep.

If it wasn’t Baldridge making negative plays happen for the Cougars, it was fellow linebackers Blake McCombs and Bret Shearer or defensive linemen Walker Graham.

How devastating was the Knights’ defense? Here is a taste of what went down on Southview’s first-half possessions.

Series 1: Graham bursts through the line for a loss of 2 on the first play from scrimmage. Shearer drops a runner for a loss of 2 on the next play. Cougars punt.

Series 2: After a screen pass goes for 19 yards, McCombs and Sam Williams-Dixon make a pair of tackles for minus-5 yards, setting up Tucker Kaufman’s school-record eighth interception of the year.

Series 3: A Baldridge sack is followed by a swarm of Knights converging on a running play for a loss of 1. Cougars punt.

Series 4: A bad snap puts the Cougars back 11 yards. On the next play, Graham forces a fumble in the backfield, and the ball is recovered by Gardner.

Series 5: After an incompletion, Baldridge makes a tackle behind the line of scrimmage for a loss, and a herd of Knights sniff out a reverse and Southview loses 4 more yards. Cougars punt.

Series 6: Baldridge leads two other Knights into the backfield for a sack, followed by an actual gain of 2 yards and an incompletion. Cougars punt.

Series 7: Leading 34-0, West Holmes punts and recovers a fumble that leads directly to a 35-yard touchdown from Noah Clark to Shearer, who runs untouched down the left sideline for a score.

Series 8: Yet another Baldridge tackle for a loss sets up a throwing down, and Sawyer Pritt steps in nimbly to pick off the pass and race 26 yards back to the Cougars’ 22-yard line.

Series 9: An errant toss leads to a loss of 3, and two incompletions later, the Cougars punt.

Series 10: Owen Jeffries collects WHHS’ third interception of the half, adding to the team’s single-season interception record that stands at 22.

That is a prefect playbook that leads to completely shutting down an opponent.

While all that was going on, the Knights offense was rolling.

Here’s a quick synopsis of what it looks like to dominate the line of scrimmage and score at will.

Series A: Four chunk plays of around 8 yards and an errant snap that sets up a second-and-25 for the Knights results in a 41-yard screen pass from Clark to Williams-Dixon, 7-0.

Series B: Williams-Dixon bolts 46 yards for a score, 13-0.

Series C: Just about the only thing that went wrong in the first half as Kaufman drops a punt and Southview recovers.

Series D: On third-and-8, Kaufman finds retribution, snagging a bubble screen from Clark and dodging in and out of traffic for a 55-yard score, 20-0.

Series E: Short passes to Garret Eastep and Kaufman set the stage for Clark’s winding and mesmerizing 32-yard scramble for a score, 27-0.

Series F: Shearer plows over five would-be tacklers for a 34-yard gain. Clark scrambles 20 yards for a score, but it gets called back on an illegal block. No matter, Williams-Dixon hauls in a short pass and bolts 14 yards for a score, 34-0.

Series G: Shearer romps down the left sideline on a Clark screen pass, 41-0.

Series H: With the subs already coming in for the Knights, quarterback Mason Wolfe finds fellow junior Zevin Proper for a 10-yard TD, 48-0.

Series I: An interception halts a drive, but this one is done.

What makes this dominant performance so impressive is Southview isn’t a bad team. The Cougars came in 4-6 and had posted a pair of big wins over Maumee and Bowling Green.

It was just one of those games where West Holmes’ defense set the tone and the Knights fed off that energy all evening, proving it was the better team.