SYRACUSE – It all started with a bang.
Wawasee started out its 2013 season in style. The Warriors welcomed in Whitko for the first game of the year and sent the Wildcats home with a lot to think about. Wawasee dominated the game from the opening kick, literally, en route to a 42-20 victory.
Wawasee made its statement on the first play of the season when Clayton Cook took the opening kick back 93-yards for a touchdown. Momentum wise, that was all the Warriors needed.
Though it was just one play, first year Wildcat head coach Josh Mohr felt that it may have been what what changed the whole night for his team.
“The opening kick off set a tone for them (Wawasee). We had a lot of energy in the locker room and I don’t know if that totally deflated us or what happened after that but it took us a while to get back up,” stated Mohr.
Though Whitko had its moments, the Wildcats never looked comfortable in the first quarter. The Wildcats stalled on their first drive, giving the ball to a fired up Warriors offense for the first time. Junior quarterback Gage Reinhard executed a solid drive to start his season that was capped off with a 56-yard touchdown pass to wide-out Sam Clark. That would be the only touchdown on the day for the sophomore but Clark finished with 89 yards receiving on the night. Wawasee led 14-0 after the first.
Wawasee started the second quarter out with another scoring play, this time the Warrior ground game got the job done as Braxton O’Haver powered across the goal line. The two-yard scoring run was the only carry on the night for O’Haver and gave Wawasee a 21-0 lead.
Whitko started to move the ball better later in the quarter but could not hang on to the ball, losing two fumbles. The Wildcats coughed it up six times on the night, turning it over four of the six times. The second fumble, recovered by Wawasee’s Austin Lutz, set the Warrior offense up on the Wildcat’s seven yard line. The turnover led directly to a Brandin McCulloch touchdown to give Wawasee a 28-0 lead before heading to the locker room.
Whitko finally found the end zone in the third quarter after quarterback Ethan Nicodemus scored from a yard out. Nicodemus was the only weapon the Wildcats had against Wawasee all night. The senior signal caller had 20 rushes for 142 yards and two scores. Nicodemus was 0-4 passing on the night.
In the fourth Wawasee ended its second half scoring drought when Gage Reinhard connected with Cook for a 34-yard scoring strike to extend the Warrior lead to 35-7. Cook finished the night with three receptions for 90 yards. Reinhard was a 9-14 for 202 yards and two touchdowns through the air and surprised fans when he had a pooch-punt that netted 14 yards following a touch-back.
Wawasee struck again in the fourth when McCulloch broke off a 65-yard scoring scamper to put his team up 42-7. McCulloch had the two scoring runs as well as 113 yards rushing.
Tanner Hughes scored the first of Whitko’s two fourth quarter scores on a 26-yard run while Nicodemus found the end zone for the second time from eight yards out. Hughes finished the night with 76 yards rushing.
Excited and overwhelmed, first year Warrior head coach Josh Ekovich spoke about his team after the win.
“I’m just really proud of our team and my staff. The staff got behind me and got behind our kids and put a lot of work into preparing for the game this week so this is a great feeling,” said Ekovich.
“Getting this first win is really a great feeling. Following a guy like Tom Wogoman is certainly not easy and this is just one win. We have a game next week but right now we are going to take 24 hours and enjoy this win,”Ekovich finished.
The Warriors (1-0) will travel to South Bend Friday to take on St. Joe. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. at Father Bly Field. Whitko (0-1) will travel to Columbia City to take on the Eagles with kickoff set for 7:00 p.m.