Varnado comes back strong after tough opening kickoff

Published 10:37 pm Friday, October 6, 2017

Varnado got off to a tough start, but rebounded after and won its District 8-1A opener, 36-13, over Covenant Christian Academy at home Friday night.

The game began in exciting fashion for Covenant Christian. The Lions won the toss and elected to receive. Caleb Wilson caught the kickoff at his 13, ran upfield and into the open. Wilson returned the kickoff 87 yards and Austin Champagne’s extra point was good. Just 15 seconds into the game, Covenant Christian had a 7-0 lead.

“Opening kickoff, we’re trying to get young guys on the field, so we put some young guys on opening kickoff,” Varnado coach Scott Shaffett said. “It’s a risk, but you want to give these guys a shot. One thing we always talk about is being special on special teams and we try to start them off young and get them involved on special teams.

“Sometimes, you’re not as fast when you do that, so you have to have to put your older guys back on, but they’re learning, they’re trying and I’m going to tell you what, they did a good job the rest of the night.”

Following the opening kickoff, it was pretty much all Varnado. The Wildcats got within one point with 2:31 left in the first quarter when JaDarrell Magee scored from the 5. The two-point conversion was no good, keeping it 7-6.

Varnado recovered a fumble at the Lions’ 30 with 1:44 left and scored on the second play of the drive when James Williams connected with Magee for a 26-yard touchdown pass. Magee the converted for two and it was 14-7 after one quarter.

Varnado’s defense forced a turnover on downs at the 35 and then the Wildcats made it a 22-7 margin with 7:05 left in the second quarter when Williams threw his second touchdown of the game, this time to an open Desmond Harry. Harry made the catch and did the rest on a 65-yard touchdown. Jaccourious Bickham converted the two and Varnado was up by 15.

Williams threw for 162 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. Harry had three catches for 84 yards and a touchdown. He also ran for 69 yards and a touchdown.

Before the close of the first half, Varnado made it a three-possession game when Darian Vargas caught a fumble out of midair at about the 40 and ran toward the left sideline and in for the touchdown. Harry converted for two more and it was a 30-7 lead at halftime.

Vargas said it was his first career touchdown. He said he ran right for the pile-on after getting possession.

“I just ran full-speed to try and get there,” Vargas said. “Just dove for it at the end.”

Each team scored a touchdown in the second half. Harry ran 10 yards for a score in the third with 2:14 left. The two-point conversion was no good, keeping it 36-7.

Covenant Christian’s Anthony Ruffin had a 63-yard touchdown run with 6:28 left in the fourth quarter. The two-point conversion was no good and that is how the game ended, at 36-13.

“I didn’t do the job tonight,” Covenant Christian Academy coach Randy Boquet said. “It’s 100 percent on me. I’ve got to do a better job of getting our kids prepared. We were not prepared tonight. We didn’t come out and play well at all.

“Not taking anything away from Varnado. They’ve got a good football team. They came out, they played hard. Our kids — that’s on me. I’ve got to do a better job. We’re going to try to bounce back. We turned the ball over too much. We didn’t play good football tonight.”

Defensively for the Wildcats, Kim McGowan intercepted two passes.

Varnado (3-2, 1-0 in district) is at home Friday, playing St. Martin’s Episcopal. Covenant Christian (4-2, 0-1) heads to West St. John on Friday.