St. Michael flexed considerable rushing muscle, gashing Walker for 226 ground yards rushing en route to a decisive 30-7 victory Friday night at Leadership Field at Doug Williams Stadium.
Of those, shifty senior tailback Matthew Butler accounted for 139, along with a long touchdown run. Quarterback Jeffrey Vaccaro finished 6-of-10 for 89 yards, as the Warriors totaled 315 yards.
Butler’s elusive second step allowed penetration through and around the Wildcats defense.
That, and Walker’s penchant for penalties and inability to sustain drives were the key factors.
Not bad work for a player who’d started three years at defensive back and had never been a ball carrier.
St. Michael (1-0) next hosts De La Salle. Walker (0-1) will be at home against Springfield.
“Hat’s off to the Walker kids,” St. Michael coach Paul Varnado said. “They played hard, our kids played hard. They’re where we were a year ago. We were young, now a little older. (Walker’s) young now. ... Now we’ve got to get ready for a big game with De La Salle.”
Jacob Kennedy’s 102 receiving yards were a statistical bright spot for the Wildcats.
Varnado said a minor arm injury to quarterback Jeffrey Vaccaro in the jamboree led to a minimized game plan.
It might have been a blessing in disguise, as he and his staff received an extended live-action look at their converted running back.
Though not a high-scoring performance, it was nonetheless a controlling one for the Warriors.
For all the running, it was special teams that netted the Warriors their first score.
After a Butler fumble at the Walker 8, the Warrior defense forced a three-and-out. Which led to C.J McGarner’s punt return touchdown which made it 7-0 at the 1:14 mark of the first quarter.
St. Michael was on its way.
When Butler’s 7-yard score ended an 11-play, 68-yard drive and made it 14-0 with 6:19 to go before halftime, the tone of game suggested the deficit might be a difficult one for the Wildcats to overcome.
When Butler broke one tackle, shook two others and outran the Walker defense around right side for a 55-yard TD on the second half’s first play, the outcome seemed no longer in doubt.
The Wildcats found the end zone for the lone time after a deep ball from Terry Bozeman to Jacob Kennedy went for 71 yards and moved WHS to the SMHS 8. Four plays later, Bozeman found Terrell Warner for a 4-yard TD strike.
“We’ve got some things to improve,” Walker coach Dwayne Severio said. “It’s the kids, it’s us as coaches. We had problems with tackling, We’re going to show up in the morning, look at film, do what we need to get better ... Give it to (St. Michael), they played a great game.”