Pirates game-plan their way to 35-0 victory over Warriors

Pirates game-plan their way to 35-0 victory over Warriors

Image Credit: Dave Mast

Four weeks into the OHSAA football season, the Garaway Pirates were supposed to finally face an opponent that would challenge them.

Garaway hosted undefeated Carrollton on The Hill in Sugarcreek on Friday, Sept. 9, and in a matchup of undefeateds, the Pirates scored on their first possession and never looked back in a 35-0 win.

While the offense did its usual thing, this game belonged to the defense, which completely shut down the Warriors’ high-powered running game led by star running back Chase Oehlstrom.

The defense for Garaway shone brightly with Jarrett Wallick, Ethan Kimble and the rest of the defensive line dominating the trenches and gobbling up Warriors runners.

However, this game was more than just a dominant defense. Garaway’s victory came courtesy of a game plan that forced Carrollton to abandon its run game and throw the ball.

It was a textbook example of preparing for an opponent that could serve as a blueprint for every team.

“This was a great atmosphere tonight,” Garaway head coach Jason Wallick said. “We set the tone early, and people are finding this is a tough place to play. We take pride in The Hill.”

As for the preparation, Wallick was pleased with the way his defense shut down a talented Warriors’ running game.

“The kids bought in, watched a ton of film and took this assignment very personally,” Wallick said. “Our coaching staff really put our guys in a place where we could restrict what they wanted to do, which is run the ball. I’ve said for years I am blessed to have the staff I have, and these guys had our kids prepared and ready to stop the run at all cost.”

The scoring

The Pirates put the pressure on Carrollton early, welcoming back injured All-Ohio running back Ethan Miller by feeding him early and often. Miller reeled off an 18-yard run on his second carry, caught a key third-down pass for seven yards and hauled in a 20-yard reception from Logan Yoder, setting up Yoder’s 4-yard TD run.

Near the end of the first quarter, Miller would plow in from 3 yards out to make it 14-0.

The Pirates would add three second-quarter scores to round out the evening’s scoring, the first coming on Yoder’s 12-yard scamper and the second courtesy of Yoder’s 54-yard screen pass to Dillon Soehnlen that saw Soehnlen race down the left sideline for a score.

The straw that broke Carrollton’s back came in whirlwind fashion. With 31.8 seconds left in the half and the ball on their own 35, Yoder dropped back and hoisted a bomb downfield to a wide-open Alexander Roden, who hauled it in and fell down at the 4-yard line. Yoder would then plow ahead for a score with 12 seconds remaining for a 35-0 lead.

A running clock made the second half fly by as Garaway’s defense remained staunch and both teams allowed their backups to garner playing time.

The return of the king

Brady Roden has been an integral part of the Garaway defensive backfield for four years, patrolling with his twin brother Alexander. The two also have been contributing wide receivers, but it wasn’t until just recently Brady Roden found a home as a punt returner.

He played a key role in this win, setting the table for the Pirates with four long punt returns that put the Pirates in great field position.

“Last week was actually my first week of returning punts,” Roden said. “So this week was me getting a little more comfortable back there. As I get more comfortable and confident back there, it’s going to be a matter of following my blockers. I’ll do whatever I have to do to help the team win.”

Back home in the backfield

Ethan Miller played all of several minutes in the season opener before being injured with a shoulder injury. Since then the star running back had to sit and wait for a chance to contribute. He got that chance in week four, when he finally returned.

His impact was felt immediately, and his first-quarter touchdown run signaled to all he was back. Miller said there were some nerves before taking the field on the first possession, but once he lined up, all of that was gone as he went into “football mode.”

“That felt amazing,” Miller said of getting back to action. “It was tough to sit and wait, but in that situation, you have to remain positive and find ways to help your team. If I’m down, then my team feeds off that negative energy. I just tried to stay positive and continue to be a good leader and encourage our guys.”

Beast in the backfield

In a game dominated by Garaway’s defensive line, All-Ohioan JT Wallick proved to be a monster. At times it was as though Wallick was in Carrollton’s huddle, so often was he roaming free in the Warriors’ backfield making tackles for loss behind the line of scrimmage.

“Our game plan was incredible, and coach Wes (Hostetler) does an amazing job of getting us ready to attack,” Wallick said. “When you’re in the right position at the right time, you make plays, and our energy and enthusiasm was there tonight in a big way.”