Green Dragons stop Stillman Valley, 30-22

Robert Blackford/Editor

The Aledo-Westmer Green Dragon football team advanced to the Class 3A quarterfinals Saturday, Nov. 8, 2008, with a 30-22 victory over Stillman Valley.

It was a huge win for the program, one of the smallest in Class 3A.

"We knew we had to have a running game to win this week," said A-W Coach Cullen Welter after the game. "Being able to run against them was huge." Brett Anderson ran for 117 yards on 14 carries and Matt Dawson ran for 124 yards on 23 carries.

The Green Dragons took the ball first and drove down the field on Stillman Valley mixing the run and the pass. The 17-play drive ended with Brett Anderson completing a three-yard pass to Mason Bush for the score. Anderson completed all seven of his pass attempts on the drive for 65 yards.

Stillman Valley answered back with a 10-play drive of its own. Senior fullback Alex Cox scored on a three-yard run to cut the Aledo lead to 7-6. Stillman Valley's conversion run attempt failed and the Cardinals trailed 7-6 with 40 seconds remaining in the first quarter.

The next Green Dragon drive ended abruptly when Cole Bishop picked off a Brett Anderson pass and returned it to the Green Dragon 31-yard line.

Aledo-Westmer defensive back Matt Dawson intercepted a Stillman Valley pass at the one-yard line on a fourth down pass attempt.

Stuck inside its own one-yard line the Cardinals tackled Matt Dawson for a safety and gained an 8-7 lead on the Green Dragons at the 7:59 mark.

Cardinal Nate Bond returned the ensuing free kick back 55 yards for the touchdown and the Cardinals took a 14-7 lead at the 7:49 mark.

The Green Dragons went back to work on offense. Anderson picked up 16 yards on a run and Dawson added nine more on the ground. Anderson completed a 27-yard pass to Dawson for the score with 5:33 remaining in the second quarter. Boucher's kick was good and the game was tied at 14-14.

Neither team could mount a scoring drive before the half.

The Green Dragons stopped Stillman Valley's opening drive of the second half cold and took over on offense.

Aledo Wesmer drove to the Stillman Valley eight-yard line when disaster struck. Brett Anderson fumbled and Stillman Valley returned it 84 yards to the Aledo-Westmer eight-yard line.

Bond scored on a five-yard run and Cody Brewington finished the conversion run to give the Cardinals a 22-14 lead with 6:51 remaining in the third quarter.

Aledo-Westmer marched down the field on its next drive picking up all of its yardage on the ground. Anderson picked up 15 on one run and Dawson picked up 37 on another during the drive. Anderson scored on a six-yard run to cut the Cardinal lead to 22-20. Anderson found Colton Welch in the endzone to complete the two-point conversion and tie the score at 22-22.

"Our offensive line just took control in the second half," said Welter. "You have to give credit to the kids. The offensive line and Brett played really well." Aledo-Westmer ran the ball 44 times for 296 yards. Anderson completed 11 of 15 pass attempts for 121 yards.

Welter said, "The defense played well outside that first drive when they drove down the field on us. They didn't consistently move the ball on us."

On the next Cardinal drive Green Dragon Josh Schau sacked Brewington for a two-yard loss to help stop the drive.

A punt pinned Aledo-Westmer at its own five-yard line. The Cardinals called a pair of timeouts to try to make the Green Dragons punt into the wind.

But Anderson picked up 16 yards on a third and five play to successfully secure a first down. The Green Dragons were forced to punt but with the wind at its backs.

Stillman Valley's next drive ended abruptly. Derek King came up with a big tackle on second down and Ethan Ball made a third down stop forcing the Cardinals to punt.

"We knew they were going to be tough," said King. "We knew the tendencies they do. The coaches made great adjustments."

The next Green Dragon drive was quick one. Brett Anderson broke the deadlock with a 56-yard run for a touchdown with 7:29 remaining in the game. Anderson then completed the conversion pass to Welch again to give Aledo-Westmer the 30-22 lead.

"We had been mixing up our blocking and he (Anderson) hit the seam," said Welter.

"I saw the open field and just ran," said Anderson.

The Green Dragon defense held again and forced Stillman Valley to punt after three plays on offense with 6:20 remaining in the game.

The Green Dragons ran four minutes off of the clock giving the Cardinals the ball back at its 20-yard line with 2:07 remaining.

Green Dragon Derek King came up with a big sack of Bremington on a first down play and Kyle Pittman followed two plays later with a 12-yard sack of his own to force a fourth down and 25 play. "I came up and made the tackle. I wasn't suppose to be going there," said Pittman.

Bremington's fourth down pass fell incomplete and the Green Dragons ran out the last 50 seconds for the win.

Welter said, "That loss (To Stillman Valley) in 1999 for me was the most heartbreaking of my career. I didn't think about it all week. I feel just a little bit of redemption."

"We knew with this bracket it was going to be tough," said Welter after the game. The Green Dragons started with Lisle, hosted Stillman Valley and will travel to Illini West this weekend. The Chargers handed the Green Dragons the team's only loss of the year earlier in the season handling them easily. 

Welter said Illini West is the best team they have faced this year."They were better than us (the first time) I'm not sure they were that much better than us," said Welter. "We are playing better football now. I think we are playing more aggressively. We are practicing better and playing smarter. It's going to be a heck of a challenge."

"We are not what I consider a Class 3A team," said Welter Saturday after the victory. “To make it to the quarterfinals in just our second year in 3A is a nice achievement."