Wildcats Open Season With Win Over Cole Camp

Adam Dean Howe
Enterprise Staff
After a long summer schedule with many adjustments, the Warsaw Wildcats finally took the field last Friday night where they dominated early and clawed their way to a 42-21 season opening win over the Cole Camp Bluebirds.  
Due to the field not being playable in Cole Camp due to resodding, so playing on a neutral site on the campus of Versailles High School, it didn’t take long for Warsaw to get things rolling.  After holding the Bluebirds to three-and-out on their first drive, Brady Slavens led the Wildcats on a scoring drive that ended in a 4 yard touchdown run by the junior quarterback.  The 2-point conversion was no good, but Warsaw had the early lead, 6-0.
Going for it early, Warsaw’s special teams play showed as they were able to recover the ensuing onside kick.  A 33 yard pass from Slavens to fellow junior Jack Gardner set-up a 2 yard touchdown run by senior tailback Justin Martin just a few plays later.  The 2-point attempt was unsuccessful again, but the Wildcats were stretching things out at 12-0.
With the offensive line handling things up front, Slavens capped the Wildcats scoring in the first quarter with another touchdown run late in the opening period from 11 yards out.  This time Martin punched in the 2-point try and Warsaw held a 20-0 advantage. 
“Our offensive line did a great job of taking care of business up front,” Warsaw head coach Ryan Boyer said.  “Those guys paved the way for us on a lot of big plays.”
Cole Camp’s lone touchdown in the first half came when sophomore quarterback Ethan Shearer scored on a roll out with 1:25 to go in the first frame, but Warsaw still clung to a 20-6 lead. 
The Bluebirds put together a nice drive early in the second quarter but that Warsaw defense played stingy and forced a turnover on downs after Cole Camp had pushed the ball inside the Wildcats 30 yard line.  However, a Slavens fumble on the next possession gave the ball back to Cole Camp.  On that drive, the defense of the green-and-black stepped up once again after a Martin sack and an incomplete pass to force yet another Bluebird punt.  
“The defensive line controlled the line of scrimmage the majority of the night,” Boyer added.  “And our linebackers and secondary, man, they flew around and swarm tackled all night.”
A kick-catching interference call set-up the Wildcats with 2:21 left in the half and their offense would move the ball downfield.  Slavens hit Gardner again on a 3rd & 9 for a 16 yard gain and then converted on 3rd & 2 to junior James Kellner for 6 yards.  Those key conversions led to a 3 yard touchdown run by Martin, his second of the night, with just :06 left on the clock.  Martin would tack on the 2-point try once again and Warsaw would take a 28-6 lead into the locker room at halftime.  
After deferring in the first half, Warsaw would receive the second half kick and start that drive from their own 14 yard line.  After picking up a first down on the second play of the drive, it would end, but with more special teams execution, this time a 53 yard punt by Gardner that put Cole Camp on their own 22 yard line.  
The Warsaw defense would step up once again and hold the Bluebirds to another three-and-out and the Wildcats would eventually take over on their own 49 yard line.  Another big third down pitch and catch from Slavens to Kellner, this time on 3rd and 10, took the ball to the Cole Camp 16 yard line.  Just a couple plays later, Martin would hit paydirt again for his third touchdown run of the night.  Junior fullback Cameron Taylor’s 2-point attempt was stalled, but the Wildcats were taking command in this one, now 34-6.  
With just 1:51 left in the third quarter, and most of the clock chewed up by the Wildcats on their previous scoring drive, the Bluebirds offense was halted again on their next possession.  However, a punt that rolled the ball inside the 1 yard line put the Wildcats in a tough spot.  Slavens would be sacked by the Bluebirds defensive front for a safety that made the score 34-8.  
Gardner’s free kick resulted in a 40 yard punt and a good return by the Bluebirds brought the ball out near midfield.  However, that defense of the Wildcats stiffened up one more time as they held Cole Camp to another three-and-out.  Warsaw’s final touchdown of the game came when Martin rolled heads on his way to the endzone for the final time of the night, and his fourth TD, this one from 37 yards out.  Sophomore Tayten Boyer ran in the 2-point conversion and the Wildcats were on cruise control, 42-8.
The Bluebirds second team scored on two drives late in the game to produce the 42-21 final tally. 
“Overall, we were very pleased with our performance,” Boyer said.  “With it being week one, and with no Jamboree, we were able to minimize mistakes and all three phases (offense, defense and special teams) executed very well.”
“It’s always a good night when you can get all of your skill guys involved on offense,” Boyer concluded. 
Slavens finished 8 of 13 for 160 yards passing.  
Martin led the Warsaw ground attack with 104 yards on 15 attempts and 4 rushing touchdowns (just 1 shy of tying a school record).  Slavens also had a good night on the ground by rushing for 96 yards on 10 attempts.  Cameron Taylor and Cameron Seevers finished with 23 and 19 yards, respectively.  Nick Bagley had a first down run in the second half for 13 yards and Tayten Boyer had 1 rushing attempt for 3 yards but converted a 2-point try with those 3 yards. 
Gardner led all receivers with 49 yards on just 2 catches.  Zach Sharp and Seevers contributed respective totals of 47 and 24 yards while Kellner had 4 catches for 40 yards with 2 of those converting big first downs. 
On the defensive side, Kellner and Bagley led the way with 7 and 5.5 tackles.  Taylor notched 3.5 tackles, Gage Whitaker had 2.5 with 1 fumble recovery and Martin, Seevers, Logan Strunk and Bradley Orton all recorded 2 tackles apiece.  Martin had 2 sacks and 1 each was racked up by Tim Burkhart and Strunk. 
As a team, Warsaw outgained the Bluebirds by a 407-156 margin in total yards. 
Ironically enough, the Wildcats (1-0) will travel to Versailles again this Friday night where they’ll actually take on the hometown Tigers.  That game is scheduled for a 7:00pm kickoff and can also be seen on BCE TV.