VIAN, Okla. —
There was no panic in Vian. The Wolverines had seen this before.
When Hennessey took the opening kickoff and marched 71 yards to draw first blood, Vian answered with 36 unanswered points and rolled to a 43-13 Class 2A quarterfinal victory at an overstuffed capacity crowd St. John’s Stadium on Friday night.
The Wolverines, 13-0, scored first in last year’s 18-7 quarterfinal loss to the Eagles, then wouldn’t score again. It wasn’t quite that way in reverse fashion, but it was close.
“We hadn’t even gotten the ball yet,” said Vian running back Riley Simon, whose 142 yards on 16 carries was tops on either side. “Then we did, but we had to just go play defense one more time.”
The Wolverines did after their offense went three-and-out. Then, on the first play of their second possession, Simon kept for 60 yards on a sweep, setting up the first of two touchdowns. Quarterback Landon De-cker hit Tre Locust for 29 yards and paydirt, then came back with another with 6:49 to go until half that made it a 20-7 game at the break. Locust would finish with four catches for 100 yards.
Simon would score his only touchdown in the third quarter, a 6-yard run. Warren Zachary added two, the first on a 46-yard run with 1:56 left in the third for a 36-7 advantage, and in the fourth went over from 2 yards out. He finished with 87 yards on eight carries.
“I never doubted these guys one bit,” Vian coach Brandon Tyler said. “There’s a reason we put 43 points on the board. They’re winners. We had some other chances to blow this thing out that we didn’t take advantage of ,but bottom line is, we’re going to the semifinals.”
Next up for the No.1-ranked Wolverines: a date with Davis, a 35-34 winner over Adair.
Vian had 320 yards on the ground and 423 overall, Hennessey 91 and 242 total. The Eagles, 10-3, were without the services of standout defensive end Car Aguirre, who tore his ACL in last week’s contest.
“My heart goes out to him. I can’t imagine going out like that my senior year,” said Vian senior offensive lineman and Tulsa commitment Rob Boyd. “I know it hurt them, but we made up our minds we were going to be the baddest guys on the field and tonight we were the bullies.”
The Eagles got a boost on that opening drive when Levi Hill kept on a fake punt on fourth down for 18 yards to the Vian 44. Quarterback Dylan Hatchel also got a boost on an 8-yard carry, thanks to a holding penalty, then hit Edgar Fierro for 10 to the 11. Four plays later on fourth-and-3 from the 4, Hatchel on a play-action pass found Carlos Torres for the 7-0 lead.
Hennessey had to pull out the gadget plays to get any momentum late. Hatchel tossed a cross-field lateral to Fierro who caught the Wolverines off balance with a toss to a wide open Steven Lott, covering 67 yards and making it 36-13. Then Zachary capped a 77-yard drive that started on a 20-yard run by Simon.
Hennessey coach Rick Luetjen credited the speed in Vian’s offense for making the difference.
“They’ve got a hell of a football team with a great chance to win it, and I hope they do,” he said.
Kays is sports editor for the Muskogee Phoenix.