VHS crushes Ringgold in playoff opener
Published 10:46 pm Friday, November 11, 2016
It took the Varnado Wildcats less than two hours Friday night to vanquish their first opponent of the 2016 postseason.
No. 7-seeded Varnado defeated visiting Ringgold 44-6 in the first round of the Class 1A playoffs. The Wildcats jumped out to a 44-0 lead after the first quarter, and the game used a running clock for the last three quarters. It started at 7 p.m., and was over by 8:45. Varnado improved its record to 7-3.
“I told our players before the game that we’d only scored a total of six points in the first quarter in our last four games,” Varnado coach Scott Shaffett said. “Our goal was to get off to a fast start, and we were able to do that tonight.”
Varnado will host No. 10-seeded Elton in the second round next Friday. Elton defeated No. 23 seed LaSalle, 37-34.
The Wildcats’ defense was equally as dominant as the offense Friday night, especially in the first half. Ringgold’s first play from scrimmage was a 12-yard run for a first down. The Redskins ran 17 more plays in the first half, and those plays netted an unofficial total of minus-43 yards.
On several occasions, Varnado players hit Ringgold’s quarterbacks while they were in the process of handing off to a running back.
“Our defense was fired up and ready to play tonight,” Shaffett said. “Everyone really made plays in that first quarter. We wanted to play hard and fast.”
Varnado took the opening kickoff to its own 45, and on its first play from scrimmage quarterback James Williams connected with Desmond Harry for a 44-yard reception. Three plays later, Williams scored on a 3-yard run and added the two-point conversion to put the Wildcats ahead 8-0 with 10:22 left in the first quarter.
Ringgold punted back to Varnado after five plays, and the Wildcats didn’t take long to increase their lead. On the first play after the punt, Harry broke away for a 45-yard touchdown run. Williams’ two-point conversion pass was no good, but Varnado still led 14-0 with 7:03 left in the first quarter.
The Wildcats’ defense got into the scoring habit on Ringgold’s next possession. A penalty on the kickoff meant the Redskins started their drive on their own 6. As Ringgold’s quarterback was handing off to a back, Varnado’s defenders hit him and caused a fumble. Varnado’s JoNathan Green recovered it in the endzone for a touchdown, and Harry added a two-point conversion run to make it 22-0 with 6:47 remaining in the first quarter.
The teams then alternated their next six possessions — Ringgold would go three-and-out, and then Varnado would score quickly. The final three Wildcat touchdowns were a 9-yard run by Armontee Kemp, a 23-yard pass from Williams to Harry, and a 44-yard touchdown by Travon Stokes. Varnado converted on two of its three two-point conversions in those scoring drives — both were runs by Stokes.
Starting in the second quarter, the Wildcats began playing its backups. Ringgold broke the shutout with 9:00 left in the game, when Nick Noel completed a 3-yard touchdown reception to Adam Loud. The Redskins’ conversion pass was no good.
Shaffett said it was great to allow every player to see the field in a playoff game.
“Our backups have gotten a lot of experience throughout the year,” he said. “Every bit of depth that we can build, will help us down the road.”