United dominates West Central in 44-26 win

Marty Touchette

MONMOUTH -- The United Red Storm made a strong statement that they are back as an area football power by inundating the West Central Heat 44-26 at United High School, Friday night, Aug. 29. That score was not indicative of the relative ease of the Red Storm victory, as United led 35-12 at halftime  and 44-12 after three periods of play before the Heat got two scores during mop-up time in the fourth quarter.

United's first-string offense was dominant on the ground, attempting only one pass the entire game, while grinding out 337 yards on 52 rushes for an average of 6.7 yards per play. The Red Storm offense resembled a tank, as it chipped and battered away at the Heat defense. United scored rushing touchdowns on its first three possessions and four of their first five in the first half to put the game out of reach.

West Central was severely hampered in the ball game by a one-game suspensions for starting quarterback Drue Waterman, as well as the starting center, which forced the Heat into the unenviable position of playing untested players in the crucial center-quarterback exchange.

On the Heat's first drive, there were no problems on the exchanges and West Central responded to United's first touchdown with an eerily similar touchdown drive of its own.

"Thats the way to grind it out," Heat Coach Steve Arnold was overheard encouraging his offense.

Unfortunately for the Heat, that was the last offensive touchdown until the game was effectively over in the fourth quarter. The third string Heat quarterback, sophomore Dylan Bell, pressed into starting the game just over one week ago because of Waterman's suspension and a practice injury to the second string quarterback, had several problems on the center-QB exchange throughout the rest of the game and there were three fumbles on pitches or exchanges in the Heat backfield.

The clear star of the game for United was junior running back Adam Olin, who battered the Heat defense for 157 yards on 15 carries and four touchdowns, averaging more than 10 yards per carry -- all in the first half. Olin scored on runs of four, one and 10 yards in the first 20 minutes of the game before breaking out his personal play of the day with an 80-yard touchdown run with 3:25 left in the second quarter for his fourth touchdown of the first half and a 35-12 United lead.

On Olin's 80-yard dash, he took the hand off from his brother, senior quarterback Patrick Olin, hit the right side of the line, got the corner and was gone down the right sideline to the cheers of an unusually small crowd for a United home game.

Olin also displayed power running on his four- and 10-yard touchdown runs, breaking four tackles on each run and dragging two Heat defenders the final five yards on the 10-yard scoring run.

Adam Olin also partially blocked a Heat punt in the closing seconds of the first half.

"It felt good, I didn't know I had four TDs. I just want to help my team. Thanks to the offensive line, they did a good job tonight," Adam Olin said.

On playing with his brother Patrick he said, "It is nice. He gives me a pat on the shoulder some times to keep me up. It's kinda cool."

The Heat was not without its own offensive star, a bit of a diamond in the rough who enjoyed his coming out party even though his team lost. Dalton Johnson lit up the Red Storm defense for 122 yards on five rushes, including a 56-yard scamper in the fourth quarter. Johnson also gave the Heat a bit of hope in the second quarter with a 90-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to make the score 21-12 after the third United touchdown drive.

On that return, Johnson resembled a young Devin Hester as he took the kick at the 10, started up the right sideline before reversing field. He gave up ground before breaking two tackles and getting the left corner to run up the sideline. Two Red Storm defenders caught him near the United 20-yard line, but he made a beautiful cutback, forcing the defenders to miss. He cruised in the rest of the way for the score.

It was Dalton's first competitive football game in five years. Last year he was a standout on the Heat golf team in the fall.

"My friends pressured me to play (football), they said I was fast. I was nervous but it was fun," Johnson said.

Johnson finished with more than 200 yards in total offense for the Heat.

United's Zach Steele accounted for the other Red Storm touchdown in the first half with a six-yard run. Aaron McDonald scored on a one-yard run in the third quarter. Erik Watson hit 4-of-5 extra points and Adam Olin added a two-point conversion. The Red Storm defense also got a safety in the third quarter.

West Central's Ryan Mowder scored the Heat's first touchdown as he swept to the left side, broke containment and ran up the sideline before tip-toeing in the final 12 yards along the sideline for a score that kept the game close early.

Chris Olson ran nine times for 60 yards, Zach Steele ran 13 times for 89 yards and Aaron McDonald rushed 11 times for 33 yards for the Red Storm.

Toby Crowe rushed 12 times for 48 yards for the Heat, Ryan Mowder ran twice for 33 yards.

There were no completed passes for either team in the game.

"Nothing happened tonight that we can't get fixed, we came together in the second half," Arnold said. "I am not interested in moral victories. We lost. United is too good of a team to make the mistakes that we made."

When asked about the effect that his suspended players had on his team, Arnold did not hesitate to take the loss as a team.

"No kids have their name on their jerseys here. We have no excuses. Kids get injured, miss games and someone else has to step up. We lost as a team."

Arnold did have praise for some of his players.

"Jacob Waterman, Ben Hawk and Dakota Pullen played real well. Dalton Johnson had a great game too."

United Head Coach Tim Engebretson was pleased. "I am real happy. We did a lot of things good tonight. We played very well offensively, the defense came around a little after a slow start," Engebretson said.

On seeking redemption this season the coach said, "It is important for us and a good start. I just want the kids to play hard and have fun. It was a good game for us."