Most patrons who showed up at the Ridge on Friday night were expecting a closely contested game between Ridgeview and Gate City.
The Blue Devils looked to grind it out on the ground, sustaining long drives and playing keep away from the high powered Ridgeview Wolfpack offense. The strategy was all for naught, however as the Wolfpack defense stymied the Blue Devils and the offense was churning on all cylinders in a dominant 42-7 final tally.
The Wolfpack set the tone on their opening possession. Behind the ground attack of Trenton Adkins, the Wolfpack scored on a 15 yard carry by the D1 prospect with 9:58 left in the opening frame. For the remainder of the first quarter, neither team was able to put points on the scoreboard. The Blue Devil defense stacked the box and held Adkins to a robust, by his standards, 70 yards in the first quarter.
In the second quarter, it was the Nick Phillips show. The junior quarterback fooled everyone on a fourth and two 40 seconds into the second quarter and scampered 12 yards for the touchdown. Landon Knepp’s extra point was true to make the score 14-0 with 11:20 left in the half. The Blue Devils answered on their next possession behind big fullback Michael Calhoun. The 265 pounder broke a huge 53 yard run and followed that up with a three yard touchdown carry to make the score 14-7 with 9:58 left in the half. Phillips added his second touchdown of the night on a perfectly executed quarterback draw play, scoring from 12 yards out.
“With their defense focusing on the middle, on Trenton, that opened up the outsides for a boot,” Phillips explained. “If they focused on the boot, I could take it up the middle on a counter.” Phillips was also very complimentary of his offensive line. “The line did an amazing job!”, said a jubilant Phillips. Adkins let his presence known on defense on the ensuing Blue Devil possession with his first of two interceptions on the evening. Less than a minute later, Adkins was rewarded with his second touchdown of the night. “Defensively, this week I kind of stepped it up in practice knowing this would be a big game,” Adkins said. As the teams headed to the locker room for the break, the Wolfpack were in command 28-7.
The Blue Devils continued to plug the inside, keeping Adkins’ yardage to short gains on each carry. The Wolfpack used the defensive strategy of the Blue Devils to open up the playbook and go to the air. Phillips found receiver Brandon Beavers, tight end Joe Yates and fullback Alijah Sproles for critical chain moving pass completions. With 5:22 left in the third quarter, the Wolfpack gave the ball back to Adkins, who scored his third of the night from seven yards out. Adkins finished the game with 229 yards on the ground.
Sproles added the final tally of the evening, scoring from 17 yards on a carry up the middle. With the 42-7 victory wrapped up, the Mountain 7 grind continues for both squads next week as Ridgeview hosts Lee High for homecoming. Gate City travels to Bullitt Park in Big Stone Gap to take on the Union Bears.
Coach Jeremy Housewright of the Blue Devils had only one thing on his mind after Friday night’s contest. “We got to get better,” Housewright exclaimed. “We’ve got to find that fire that we had the first week of the season against Richlands. We’ve got to get back there, there is no other way around it.”
Coach Rick Mullins of the Wolfpack was pleased with his team after the district victory. “Nick (Phillips) ran the ball well, Alijah (Sproles) ran the ball well. The pass loosened up the defense a little bit. The defense really stepped it up tonight. This is the best the defense has played. I’ve been looking for this and I thought they played really well tonight.” Mullins was also impressed with his young quarterback. “Nick made some really good decisions. Nick is very capable. He can run and that is only going to help us in the long run.”
I was born a Haysi Tiger but unfortunately succumbed to a broken heart on a cold rainy afternoon in King William, Virginia on December 6, 2014.
However, I was reincarnated as a Wolf, and became a runner of the Ridgeview Wolfpack on August 28, 2015. You now hear me howling most autumn Friday nights high atop Rose Ridge in Dickenson County or anywhere else my Pack of hungry Wolves may be, from Grundy to Falcon Hill or from Ben Hur to Pikeville, Kentucky.
I never wolfed down (pun very intended) a Tiger Taco like Mr. Brady Hess, but I was and still am known to devour a pizza from Pizza Factory on Main Street in Haysi.
I have always wanted to write about sports and now I have the opportunity to thanks to those who have built this wonderful place on the world wide web. Hope y’all enjoy.