Mercer County beats West Central, 66-6

Robert Blackford/Editor
Merecer County’s A.J. Schroeder takes down West Central ball carrier Dalton Johnson Friday night in Biggsville.

The Mercer County Golden Eagles improved to 7-1 Friday, Oct. 16 by defeating West Central, 66-6. The Golden Eagles scored on every possession but their last.

It was all Mercer County from the beginning as the Golden Eagles scored on a blocked punt with 10:21 remaining in the first quarter. Michael McClellan blocked the West Central punt and Cameron Muske returned it 35 yards for the touchdown. "I just picked it up and scored from there."

"We've improved a lot on special teams play the last couple of weeks and I think it shows," said Mercer County Head Coach Nat Zunkel. Those special teams included a strong return by Austin Skiles to start the second half.

"The kids just did a great job," said Zunkel.

The Golden Eagles will host Stark County this week their final regular season game of the season. The Rebels finished second in the state last year in Class 1A and could secure a piece of the conference title by knocking off Mercer County Friday. The Rebels are 5-2 this season.

"Our kids are football smart and playoff saavy, said Zunkel. "Our goal this week is to beat Stark County." 

The Golden Eagle offense didn't led up scoring three more times in the first quarter and taking a 28-0 lead in the first quarter.

Mercer County quarterback Brett Anderson threw touchdown passes to Ethan Ball and Kyle Pitman of 44 and four yards respectively. Michael McClellan also scored on a 17 yard run.

The Heat got rolling near the end of the first quarter on their lone scoring drive. West Central quarterback Dylan Bell hit Zach Shinberger for a 13-yard gain on a third down and 10 play.

Bell connected with Dalton Johnson on a 28-yard play down to the Mercer County 20 yard line. Johnson picked up 13 yards on a third down and seven play to give The Heat a first and goal opportunity at the Mercer County four yard line. Bell connected with Tyler Link for the Heat's score with 10:40 remaining in the second quarter.

The Heat's comeback was short as Mercer County scored on its next three possessions to take a 49-6 lead into the locker room at halftime. Anderson threw touchdown passes to Tanner Benson and Pitman of 28 and 35 yards in the period. McClellan also scored on a seven-yard run.

"We were a little disappointed in the drive they scored a touchdown on but we responded after that," said defensive lineman Dylan King after the game. King said he was happy with the way the team is playing at this point in the season. "We've got a new head coach and he's fitting in real nice."

Mercer County's defense took over in the second half and didn't allow Mercer County to convert a first down during the entire second half. The defense allowed only 65 yards of offense on the night.

The Golden Eagles scored three more times in the game. Max Parkinson scored on a 20 yard run. Jeff Rumberg scored on a one yard run and Luke Boucher kicked a 36-yard field goal, his first of the year. "I thought it was shorter than it was," said Boucher. It was 36 yards. I didn't like the rotation on it. I guess I'm just getting picky."

After the game West Central Coach Steve Arnold said, "Mercer County has a wonderful football program and a top flight coach. They have the type of program we'd like to have. If there was one positive that came from tonight's game it was that we gave a lot of young players the opportunity to play. Our best wishes go to Coach Zunkel and his kids the rest of the way."

The Heat fell to 0-8 on the season with the loss.

It was a little hard for Mercer County to get up for the game, admitted lineman Jordan Willits afterwards. "We knew we needed to come in here and take care of business and I think we did. We put up 66 points so me must have done something right.'