Dynamic Wheeler attack too much for South Central to handle
UNION TOWNSHIP -- With South Central locked in on containing Trey Gibson in the first half Friday, the door opened for Preston Morris to have a big night.
As it turned out, they both did.
Morris tossed two of his three touchdowns and the bulk of his 203 passing yards in the opening two quarters, while Gibson erupted for three scores and most of his 188 yards on the ground after the break as Wheeler whipped the Satellites 41-21 in a Greater South Shore Conference game.
"It's a team game," said Gibson, who managed 48 yards before the half and 140 after. "You've got to come into a game, look at the defense and say, all right, this is what they're doing, this is what we have to key on. If they're keying on me, we have plenty of extra weapons. Preston, Richie (Otero), Blaise (Evenson), Cole (Kostbade), a bunch of receivers who can all make plays. It definitely opens up the run game for me and all the other backs. It makes the defenses back up. It keeps them honest."
A 47 percent passer with just one TD in the first three games, Morris was 10 of 14 in the first half, twice throwing on the move for 16-yard scores to Evenson. The 6-foot-3 junior fended off a defender and toe tapped on the opening touchdown and broke free in the back of the end zone on a fourth and 8 on the second.
"We have lots of weapons on the field," Morris said. "It's a team game. It's not just one player that plays. To open up the game, get the ball out, I always love that. We saw they were keying on Trey the first half. Once we noticed that, we went to coach (Adam) Hudak, we switched that up a little bit, opened up the offense, got some throws in. We just spread it out so they had to worry about more than him. It takes some eyes off him, we can give him a little rest so he's not getting killed every play."
Despite a 14-6 lead, Wheeler (2-2, 1-0) hampered itself in the first half with a fumble and interception and a drop in the end zone on another series.
"They put all the guys in the box," Hudak said. "We finally got our passing game clicking. We've got some 6-4 receivers and my man, Richie Otero. If you take out those couple turnovers, I'd be a lot happier. Every single week, we've had early turnovers. It's been frustrating."
Wheeler blew the game open with 21 unanswered points in the third quarter.
"We battled that first half," S.C. coach Buzz Schoff said. "We were executing what we wanted to do. We're chasing eight points at halftime, but that's a position we usually excel in, our backs
against the wall. They had to dig a little deeper in the playbook to get those 14 points. The quarterback leaked back out the other side, we didn't see that on film, so we didn't worry about it, and they got us with it. But we knew who their guy was and they were going to keep feeding him the ball. (Gibson) was getting his yards but not to the point where we've got to change. If he gains three yards, OK."
The game broke open quickly after the half as the S.C. secondary lost the 5-4 Otero deep on a play fake and he raced 85 yards.
"They didn't change their offense at all, they just executed better and we just didn't have an answer," Schoff said. "All of a sudden, we can't do anything. We're in the game, playing our best football, and everything kind of goes sour. For whatever reason, we had our linebacker sitting a little bit, the play side is late to the alley, and we're not spilling blocks."
Gibson warmed up on the next Wheeler series, rushing for 56 yards, going the last 24 untouched around the right side. After Aaron Hogan's third lost fumble on the next S.C. possession, Gibson dashed 30 yards on the same play.
"We went extra overload," Hudak said. "We moved the other guy over to help out with the point of attack."
On fourth and 9 from midfield, the Bearcats ran Gibson to the right edge again, and for the third time, he went the distance.
"We started off slow, but we came back and adjusted," he said. "The line was doing phenomenal in the second half. I wasn't even getting touched coming around the corner. It was incredible. All thanks to them. It was a good way to finish a game. We've just got to keep it rolling."
After the busy beginning, Morris threw the ball just three times following the long ball to Otero.
"I'm not really worried about stats, I'm just worried about the team," Morris said. "It was really fun, just seeing the camaraderie of our team in the second half, to see how it all came together, how much energy it gave us. It showed if we keep the energy throughout the whole game, the first quarter to fourth, we're going to win games."
South Central picked up a pair of fourth quarter touchdowns, a Brady Glisic shorty to Trent Hudspeth and a 12-yeard Glisic run, to salvage some pride.
"Games like this, you find out what type of kids you're working with," Schoff said. "You've got two options, get six (points) at a time or we fold. There was a moment there the kids had a decision to make. Once everything settled down a little bit and we don't worry about getting 40 points right now -- you can't do it -- we started battling back a little bit. You take out the third quarter, it's probably a really good football game, but we need all four to win a game."
Brendan Carr, a 6-8 tight end, shook loose
for catches totaling 116 yards. The running game was largely stuffed with Wheeler making 11 tackles for lost yardage. Brandin Young rushed for 85 yards, 53 coming on a jet sweep that put the Satellites (2-2, 1-1) on the board in the first quarter.
"South Central fought hard," Hudak said. "You can't teach 6-8. That's hard to coach against and they use him well. We had a couple outside contain breaks. That's simple football. It's good to start off conference 1-0. It was a fun night. It was a tough three-game start, but I'm excited to see what we can do. Now we want to see where we're going to be going into week eight and nine."
Wheeler 41, South Central 21
South Central 6 0 0 15 -- 21
Wheeler 7 7 21 6 -- 41
W -- Blaise Evenson 16 pass from Preston Morris (Tyler Cook kick), 4:01
SC -- Brandin Young 53 run (kick failed), 3:00
W -- Evenson 16 pass from Morris (Cook kick) 7:49
W -- Richie Otero 85 pass from Morris (Cook kick), 7:06
W -- Trey Gibson 24 run (Cook kick), 2:49
W -- Gibson 30 run (Cook kick), 2:27
SC -- Trent Hudspeth 1 pass from Brady Glisic (Jacob Oehmen run), 7:50
W -- Gibson 50 run (kick failed), 6:51
SC -- Glisic 12 run (Hudspeth kick), 3:22
South Central 11, Wheeler 16
South Central 38-153, Wheeler 37-224
South Central 8-14-1-134, Wheeler 12-18-1-203
South Central 287, Wheeler 427
South Central 3-30, Wheeler 4-26.
South Central 5-3
South Central 3-31.0
Rushing: South Central, Young 5-85, Glisic 17-27, Jacob Oehman 5-16, Aaron Hogan 4-14, Matt Mulligan 6-14, Hayden Trutko 1-(-3). Wheeler, Gibson 22-188, Morris 8-23, Anthony Cawby 4-12, Caden Brann 2-7, Jonathan Mollencup 1-1, Otero 1-(-4).
Passing: South Central, Glisic 8-14-1-134, Wheeler 12-18-1-203.
Receiving: South Central, Brendan Carr 4-116, Dylan Hale 2-12, Jacob Oehmen 1-6, Hudspeth 1-1. Wheeler, Otero 4-135, Evenson 5-49, Michael Bell 1-10, Cole Kostbade 2-9.