The Wayne County Cardinals returned to action last Friday night against former district rival Rockcastle County, at Rocket Stadium.
Wayne County opened the season with a 41-30 win over Shelby County and was coming off a 35-27 home loss to Pulaski County, while the Rockets were shutout 40-0 in the season opener at Somerset and bounced-back with a 41-33 home win over Casey County.
The contest marked the 29th meeting between the two schools with Rock-castle County owning a 17-11 series advantage, despite Wayne County winning six of the past seven matchups, including a 40-6 road win last season.
Wayne County scored the first four possessions of the first half and the opening four possessions of the second half to roll to a 62-27 road win. The Cardinals used 47-plays to net 490 yards of offense with 15 first downs led by the play of 6-1 190 lb. junior running back Braedon Sloan. Sloan rushed 16 times for 238 yards, scoring touchdowns on runs of 27, 26, 57 and 67 yards, plus added a 37-yard touchdown reception, as the winners improved to 2-1 on the season.
"We did some really good things at times, but some of those runs were all about Braedon's ability to make people miss, absorb the contact and go. He's a special player, but we know it takes all 11-men on the field doing their job thru the whistle. A couple of times in this game he was hit in the backfield, but he still managed almost 60, or 70 yards on those plays, that's him just being the MAN. We are still working on getting lower off the football, making good contact and cleaning-up the little stuff, but this was a nice bounce-back effort," said Cards head coach Shawn Thompson.
Junior quarterback Brody Weaver added four touchdowns, rushing 7 times for 30 yards with scores from 6 and 3-yards out, plus completed 5 of 17 passes for 147 yards with scoring strikes of 26 and 37-yards. Senior Thomas Spencer made his debut and the 6-4 wide receiver grabbed 2-balls for a game high 80 receiving yards with a touchdown, while Carson Simpson added 72 rushing yards on four attempts, which included a 70-yard touchdown run.
"We have to find more guys getting involved in the offense and Brody made some plays in the running game, Thomas had a great first game playing varsity football and it was good to see Carson bust one. We need everyone getting involved for our offense, which starts with those five guys on the offensive line. We rushed for 343 yards, which we'll take every time out," said Thompson.
Rockcastle County, which dropped to 1-2 and lost for the seventh time in eight games in the rivalry, totaled 302 yards of offense on 64 plays led by the effort of quarterback Noah Parkey.
The 5-8 170 lb. junior quarterback rushed 12 times for a team best 116 yards with a TD and completed 8 of 21 passes for 81 yards and a score.
Senior running back Josh Thacker added 60 rushing yards on 20 attempts, which included a 3-yard scoring run.
Senior Jacob Loudermilk added a game high 3-catches for 43 yards with a score, as the hosts totaled 20 first downs without a turnover.
"We have to tackle better and get off the field on third down. After their first drive we played really well the rest of the first half, but we didn't play with near-enough intensity, or edge in the second half, which has to improve. We also had too many penalties, so we have lots of things to work on, on both sides of the ball," said Thompson.
Rockcastle County opened the game with the football and used 6-plays to travel 64 yards and score on a Noah Parkey 20-yard connection with Jacob Loudermilk. The Mitchell Buckner kick left the score 7-0 with 9:26 left in the opening quarter and from that point on, it was all Wayne County the rest of the half.
Braedon Sloan returned the ensuing kickoff 45-yards and two plays later scored on a 27-yard touchdown run and Patrick Radilla booted the kick to knot the score at 7-7 with 8:46 left in the first frame.
After the defense forced a quick-punt it was a 6-play 65-yard march, capped off by a Brody Weaver 27-yard touchdown pass to Thomas Spencer. Patrick Radilla was a perfect 8 of 8 on kicks on the night, which left the score 14-7 with 4:54 left in the first quarter.
The Cardinal defense forced a turnover on downs on the next possession and 8-plays later, all on the ground, Braedon Sloan ended a 60-yard drive with a 26-yard touchdown run, which pushed the lead to 21-7 with 10:30 remaining in the first half.
Wayne County added to their lead, after another three and out by the defense and 30-yard punt return by Tito Ruiz, as the great field-position was capped-off by a Brody Weaver 6-yard touchdown run, which left the score 28-7 with 6:29 left in the first half.
Neither team would score again in the period, as the Cards enjoyed a 28-7 halftime advantage.
Brody Weaver connected with Braedon Sloan 90-seconds into the third period, on a 37-yard touchdown pass and the conversion snap was botched, leaving the score at 34-7.
The Rockets had an improved offensive attack in the second half and answered with a 6-play drive of 62 yards, ending with a Noah Parkey 23-yard touchdown run. Parkey added the conversion run to close the gap to 34-15 with 7:53 left in the third quarter.
Braedon Sloan made the most of his final two carries of the night, as the stalwart raced 57-yards to push the lead to 41-15 at the 7:31 mark of the third and punctuated his night with a 67-yard touchdown run to push the score to 48-21 with 11:39 left in the ballgame.
In between those scores Rockcastle County managed a 3-yard Josh Thacker touchdown run, as the Rockets used 17-plays to net 80 yards and closed the gap to 41-21, on the opening play of the fourth quarter.
Wayne County added a couple scores later in the quarter as Brody Weaver scored on a 3-yard keeper to push the lead to 55-21, Zach Taylor answered with a 3-yard touchdown run for Rockcastle County to make the score 55-27 at the 2:49 mark and Carson Simpson raced 70-yards for the game's final touchdown, with :55 left in the game to make the final score 62-27.
Senior linebacker Cody Vaughn led the defense with 15 total tackles and a sack, sophomore Justin Curry added a career high 9 tackles and Tito Ruiz finished with 8 stops. Cody Roysdon managed 7 total tackles, while the trio of Cauy Wallace, Lee Shelton and Riley Hancock all tallied 5 stops each.
Next up for the Cards is a road game at Southwestern this Friday night with kickoff scheduled for 7:30 pm.
"Southwestern is another tough challenge on the road, but we're looking forward to that challenge. We know we have to get better blocking and tackling. We're looking to put 48-minutes together and that's something we've not done yet. This game is another very close road game, so hopefully we'll pack the place," said Thompson.
For a complete preview of the matchup see related story inside this edition of The Outlook.