The Waverly Central Tiger fans have waited many years for a team that could truly contend for a district title and beyond. On Friday night, that team removed any doubts about its arrival, as Waverly dismantled the Creek Wood Red Hawks 48-6.
Creek Wood forced a three-and-out on the Tigers’ opening drive, and Brenden Dickens teamed with Austin Newsom to block the punt and set the Red Hawks up in Waverly territory. Ian Spence fired a first-play strike to Mathis Duncan for a first down at the 15 yard line, and two plays later found him again for a first and goal around the 4. A Kyle Klotz run on first down got the Red Hawks inside the one, but Waverly’s defense denied the next two runs leaving Creek Wood on the doorstep at fourth and goal in the first quarter. The Red Hawks elected to go for the touchdown, but the pass was incomplete and Waverly got the ball on downs.
Three sport standout and quarterback J’Honathyn Smith calmly led the Tigers down the field, though penalties kept trimming down the big plays. Devin Palk, the versatile running back for Waverly, proved their money man on the drive and on the night. A key screen pass to Palk on third down around the Waverly 36 finally flipped the field, then Palk ran in a touchdown from 26 yards out for the first score of the game with 3:04 left in the first. The hold on the extra point try was bobbled, so the holder sprang up and fired a pass instead which was picked off and not returned by Creek Wood. Waverly led 6-0, but the game was far from over.
Klotz started the ensuing Creek Wood drive at quarterback, and as Coach Chuck Daniel had eluded to on the RFC Sports Hour two nights before, Spence got some time at wide receiver on the drive. The drive would quickly stall, but Spence is also the punter, and he scampered ten yards on the fake to pick up a first down. Klotz would hook up with Jonathan McCloud to convert a third and 11, and as the game ground into the second quarter Klotz found his brawling tight end Wyatt Page to convert a fourth down. The highlight of the night for the boys from Charlotte and White Bluff came with 11:19 to go in the first half, as Klotz–backup quarterback and starting running back–found Spence–starting quarterback and part-time receiver–for a 26 yard pass down the sidelines for a tying touchdown. The extra point would have given the Red Hawks the lead, but Spence’s kick was blocked and the game stayed 6-6.
Just over a minute later, Waverly took the momentum back, and would never give it up again. Smith found Jason Rodriguez for a 70 yard touchdown, then got back the missed extra point with a successful two point try on a toss to Palk. Up 14-6, the Tiger defense forced a three and out, and Waverly’s offense picked up two first downs before Palk scored again from 20 yards out. In less than four minutes, Waverly turned a tied game into a 21-6 edge, and they weren’t done in the first half.
The Red Hawks’ offense got stuck in the mud on a dry day in Humphries County, as the Tigers forced an incompletion, tackled James Hammock for a three yard loss, then registered a sack to stop Creek Wood cold. On the ensuing drive, Smith would find his basketball teammate Rhyse Randolph for a 31 yard passing touchdown to make it 28-6 with 5:37 left in the second.
Klotz would find Page for another first down with less than 5 minutes left before halftime, but the drive would stall again, and Rodriguez would block Spence’s punt to set up another quick score. On the first play of the drive, Smith would screen the ball to Palk, who sped in for a 31 yard score to make it 35-6 Waverly with 2:36 left in the second. The two sides would slow in the final minutes of the half, and CWHS would collect itself and look to the second half.
Unfortunately, the second half resembled the first, as the Red Hawks tried to establish an offensive rhythm with a 12 yard run by Spence, then a 10 yard pass to Peyton Gibbs. The drive would stall after that, and Creek Wood had to punt it away. Much like in the first half, the Tigers shot themselves in the foot with some ill-advised penalties; also like in the first, they overcame those penalties, scoring with a running play from 53 yards out to make it 42-6 with still 7:03 left in the third. That margin would trigger the mercy rule, and the clock barely stopped the rest of the game.
Even with a rested Spence back in at quarterback, the offense for Creek Wood was unable to find any rhythm, and the quick strike, no hesitation Waverly offense proved too much to handle in bursts on the other side. Palk would put the finishing touches on the game with a 62 yard romp with 7 minutes left in the game, and the Tigers would win 48-6.
Creek Wood (2-3, 1-2) returns home Friday night to take on Stewart County, one of only two 11-AA teams left without a district win (1-3, 0-2). The other winless district team, East Hickman (0-4, 0-3), travels to Fairview, which lost 14-7 at home against Montgomery Central on Friday night. Camden and Hickman County stayed perfect this week, beating Lewis County and East Hickman respectively. Waverly visits Montgomery Central this week, while Hickman County travels to Lewis County and Camden goes out of the district to face Huntingdon.