The Wayne County Cardinals, 9-1 on the season and coming off a hard-fought 56-33 opening round win over Lincoln County, returned to action last Friday hosting district rival Corbin, with the district championship on the line. The Cardinals owned the #4 ranking in the final Associated Press Class 4A poll, while the Redhounds claimed the #8 spot. Corbin entered with a 6-4 mark on the season and is coming off a 42-21 opening round win over Knox Central. The Hounds own a 26-5 series edge, but Wayne County has won four of the last six meetings, including an 18-16 decision just three weeks earlier, at Campbell Field.
Wayne County used 65 plays to total a season high 616 yards and
forced five turnovers, while committing just one, rolling to a 63-49
win. Junior All-State candidate Braedon Sloan smashed the record
books as well rushing 37 times for 408 yards with seven touchdowns,
plus added a 30-yard reception, as Wayne County built an early 35-7
lead, before seeing that lead evaporate and fighting back for the
championship win. Sloan scored on runs of 85, 25, 3, 14, 22, 61 and
42 yards, the last two in the fourth quarter, as the winners improved
to 10-1 on the season.
"What a great effort to win the district championship and I couldn't
be prouder of our kids. Offensively we had a great night and took
care of the football. We got off to such a great start, but we knew
Corbin wasn't going anywhere. Our kids never flinched, never
panicked and we made some huge plays down the stretch. We gave up way
too many yards, but we also forced some big turnovers, so while the
score was a wild one, we'll take it. Special credit to our offensive
line, I think as a unit, they played their best game of the season,"
said Cards head coach Shawn Thompson.
Sloan set a Wayne County single game record for rushing yards,
eclipsing his own mark of 362 yards against Lincoln County in the
regular season, plus broke the single season scoring mark in KHSAA
history with 55 total touchdowns, eclipsing the 53 of Boone County
great and former Alabama Crimson Tide great Sean Alexander.
"Unbelievable season, unbelievable effort and an unbelievable kid.
Braedon just does some tremendous things every week and I'm just
thankful, as well as blessed that he is on our team. To put up those
type of numbers every week he's a tremendous athlete and credit the
maturation of our entire offense as well. Brody Weaver has been as
efficient with the football as any quarterback we've had, our
receivers continue to make plays and all that opens up with the
improvement of our offensive line. Those guys aren't the biggest, or
the strongest, but they continue to improve, which is all we'll ever
ask for," said Thompson.
Weaver, a 6-1 190 lbs. junior, completed 9 of 19 passes for 169
yards with 2 TDs and rushed 8 times for 37 yards, as the stalwart now
has 20 TDs against just three interceptions. Senior wide receiver
Tito Ruiz followed up a "career night" the week before with 4
receptions for 91 yards, which included a 46 yard touchdown catch.
Thomas Spencer added 4 catches for 48 yards, which was highlighted by
a 27 yard scoring reception on a fourth down, as the Cards finished
with 23 first downs.
Corbin, which dropped to 6-5 and was eliminated in the second round
of the playoffs for the first time since 2013, used 50 plays for 559
yards led by freshman quarterback Cameron Combs. Combs completed 22
of 34 passes for 457 yards with 5 TDs, but also had two interceptions
and a fumble, while freshman Dakota Patterson added a career high 9
catches for 188 yards with scoring connections of 57, 32 and 4
yards. Jacob Steely added 6 catches for 98 yards and Ethan Wine
totaled 3 receptions for 86 yards and a score, while senior running
back Nick Yeager added 11 carries for 57 yards with scoring runs of
11 and 2 yards.
"The big lead really forced their hand to go four and five wide and
they just have too many athletes to cover. They have great size,
speed, strength and our inability to get a pass rush really made it
tough on our guys on the backend. We did force some turnovers and
ended the game a plus four, which was the difference in the game,"
Wayne County forced a fumble on Corbin's first drive of the game and
one play later Braedon Sloan raced 85 yards to pay-dirt and Patrick
Radilla added the point after and the hosts were leading 7-0 with
9:24 left in the first quarter.
Corbin answered right back on their next series as Cameron Combs
connected with Ethan Wine from 57 yards out and Jacob Baker added the
kick to knot the score at 7-7, with 8:34 left in the first period.
The Cards dominated the next 10-12 minutes of game-clock reeling off
28 straight points to grab a convincing 35-7 lead. Brody Weaver
connected with Tito Ruiz on a 46 yard scoring connection at the 4:44
mark of the first, Braedon Sloan scored on a 25 yard run at the 1:55
mark of the first, then added a 3-yard scoring run with 9:39 left in
the second, followed by a 12 yard run, as Patrick Radilla was perfect
on the night as Wayne led 35-7 with 7:40 remaining in the first half.
Corbin responded with some offensive fireworks of their own as Combs
connected with Dakota Patterson on a 57 yard touchdown pass and Combs
added the conversion run to close the gap to 35-15 at the 7:25 mark
of the second quarter.
Wayne County answered back with a 12-play drive of 65 yards, capped
off by a Weaver 27 yard strike to Thomas Spencer, which left the
score 42-15 with 2:04 left in the first half, but that was more than
enough time for the visitors.
Combs completed 4 of 5 passes for 81 yards on the march and Nick
Yeager rambled in from 11 yards out to make the halftime score 42-22.
The Cards opened the second half with the football and battled thru
a deflected pass that was intercepted and then fumbled back to the
Cards to a healthy diet of Braedon Sloan. Sloan rushed for 7, 7, 4,
1, 4, 4, 0 and then 22 yards to make the score 49-22 with 6:33 left
in the third period.
Corbin retuned the favor with a 21-0 run of their own to make the
game a one possession contest, as the Hounds used 8 plays to drive 61
yards and score on a Yeager 2 yard run, at the 4:04 mark of the third
period. Cameron Combs added a 65-yard touchdown pass to Dylan
Massengil with 31-seconds left in the quarter and then connected with
Dakota Patterson from 32-yards out, as the lead was cut to 49-43 with
7:27 left in the ballgame.
Braedon Sloan put the rally to rest on the next two possessions as a
Weaver to Ruiz 24-yard third down conversion setup a Sloan 61-yard
touchdown run. The Patrick Radilla kick made the score 56-43 with
6:25 left in regulation. That was followed by a Justin Curry
interception and Sloan followed that with a 42-yard scoring run, to
push the lead to 63-43 with 1:48 left in the contest.
Corbin managed one final score as Combs connected with Patterson
from 4-yards out with 22-seconds remaining, but it was too little too
late, as Wayne County claimed their fifth win in the last seven games
against the Hounds with a 63-49 home win.
A review of the defensive stats shows senior defensive back Cauy
Wallace led the way with 12 tackles, while senior Riley Hancock added
9 stops. Tito Ruiz and Carson Simpson finished with 6 total tackles
each, while Lee Shelton, Braedon Sloan and Cody Roysdon finished with
5, 4 and 4 tackles each.
Next up for the Cards is a Friday night trip a familiar foe in
Johnson Central. The Eagles are a perfect 12-0 on the season and
coming off a 50-6 district championship win over Harlan County.
Johnson Central dominated that district, outscoring their opponents
296-25 in six games and has eliminated Wayne County in the state
semifinals in 2015, 2016 and 2017.
"We're excited to still be playing football and we're not playing
2015, 2016 and 2017, we're playing Friday night in 2019 and we know
they have a tremendous team. We've played hard and very competitive
against those guys and had chances to win and another time we failed
to get off the bus, so I told our guys basically nothing to worry
about, as we've played them about every way possible," said Thompson.
Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. Friday night at Johnson Central and for
a complete preview of the matchup see related story inside this edition of The Outlook.