Dragons take conference title Friday

Staff reports

WYOMING — A share of the conference title slipped through Stark County’s hands Friday night, Oct. 24, 2008, after Aledo-Westmer rolled to a 40-7 win on the muddy turf of Gary Johnson Field in Wyoming.

The Rebels fumbled the ball away five times in the first half and seven times on the night for the Green-Dragon win.

The win gave the Green Dragons the outright West Prairie Trail Northwest Division title with a perfect 6-0 mark, while Stark County finished 4-2 in the conference chase.

“They’re a real good team and we lost seven,” said Stark County coach Jade Noard of his team’s fumbles. “You can’t beat average teams losing seven, and they’re a good one. That was the difference.”

Aledo-Westmer coach Cullen Welter praised his team for taking advantage of the short fields created by Stark County’s miscues.

“When you get seven turnovers, what can you say,” said Welter. “I told our kids I was proud of the way we handled the elements and took advantage of our opportunities.”

Four of A-W’s six touchdowns were the result of Stark County’s fumbles.

The first play from scrimmage set the tone for Stark County. Quarterback Tanner Ewing lost the handle on the snap and Aledo-Westmer recovered at the Rebels’ 38-yard line. Seven plays later, Matt Dawson scored from three yards out and the senior running back added the two-point conversion to give A-W an 8-0 lead at the 8:51 mark of the opening quarter.

Two more Stark County fumbles led to A-W scores in the second quarter. The Green Dragons drove 36 and 57 yards to stretch the lead to 20-0 at the half. Scoring for A-W were Ethan Ball on a two-yard plunge and Colton Welch on a three-yard run.

“We felt like defensively we played very well in the first half,” said Noard. “They kind of wore us down, but you’re going to wear yourselves down giving it away seven times. That’s just demoralizing.”

The A-W offense demonstrated its big-play ability in the third quarter. On the opening drive of the second half, Dawson took a shovel pass from quarterback Brett Anderson and raced 67 yards for the score. Anderson’s two-point run made it 28-0 just over a minute into the third quarter.

Anderson went to the air again for the next score, connecting with Colton Welch on a 45-yard touchdown strike.

A-W put the continuous clock in motion at the 2:20 mark of the third quarter on a 10-yard run by Dawson.

The Rebels avoided the shutout on a five-yard touchdown run by sophomore Aaron Nunez with 4:25 left in the game.

Both teams will anxiously await their playoff assignments tonight and enter the postseason heading in opposite directions as the Green Dragons (8-1) have won five straight and the Rebels have dropped three in a row.

“We feel like we’re playing better at this point in the season and we hope it carries on into next week,” said Welter.

“We’re on a little bit of a skid here, but I thought our effort tonight was as good as it’s been in about a month,” said Noard. “That doesn’t show up on the scoreboard and it’s not going to with the turnovers. We’ll try to regroup. Those nine games are behind us and the only one that matters now is the one they pair us up with Saturday night.”