Wave gets past undermanned Red Hawks
GHS 44 Jourdan York-Welcome scores on this play despite the rubber band tackle attempt
Greenfield junior Brayten Stack returns to the Green Wave backfield this season and will be the primary running back this fall after splitting time last season.
Frontier senior quarterback Oliver Fox returns this season to try and help the Red Hawks to move up the IL standings after finishing last in 2013.
Fro 9 Oliver Fox
GHS 10 Connor Eckstrom scrambles
GREENFIELD — Sometimes to win a football game, you need to be lucky and good. And the Greenfield High School football team was good and lucky to come out of this one with the “W.”
Greenfield made a key defensive stop late in the first half, and took advantage of its opponent’s mistakes en route to a 20-6 Intercounty League football win over upset-minded Frontier Regional School Friday night at Veterans Memorial Field.
Given Greenfield’s size and high level of play recently, and the Red Hawks’ inexperience and injury problems — they only dressed 20 players, minus power back Justin Blake, suffering from a hamstring pull — this was expected to be a bit of a mismatch and, early on, it was. The Green Wave scored on its first series, when senior back Jourdan York-Welcome (17 carries, 84 yards) ran a draw play 12 yards up the middle for the first of his two touchdown runs. The Red Hawks managed to block Robin Marchese’s extra-point kick, to keep the score 6-0.
Greenfield caught its first lucky break on that opening drive, which Frontier appeared to stop with an interception on the third play, only to see it waved off because of an offside penalty.
York-Welcome would score his second touchdown in the next series from 14 yards out. Connor Eckstrom’s point-after pass to Lew Borden fell incomplete, keeping the score at 12-0.
The rout appeared to be on, but the Red Hawks came storming back, recovering a Greenfield fumble and mounting their best sustained drive of the game, 60 yards on nine plays ending with a 1-yard touchdown run by junior back Ariq Welch.
With Blake on the bench, Welch became the go-to back for Frontier coach Don Gordon, carrying the ball 13 times for 24 yards. The Green Wave did a good job of stifling the Frontier ground game, holding to Red Hawks to just 26 total rushing yards, and sacking quarterback Oliver Fox twice for four- and five-yard losses. Frontier’s strongest offensive weapon was Fox’s obvious passing chemistry with junior end Ian Blight, who caught three balls for 64 yards, two of which came on Frontier’s lone scoring drive.
Greenfield stopped Jack Hebert’s extra-point run to keep the score 12-6. Frontier would once again get the ball back late in the second quarter, when a nearly successful fake punt pass from Marchese to Garrett Hudson fell just short. That gave Frontier the ball on the Greenfield 47, and six plays later, Fox hit Blight again for 28 yards, setting the Red Hawks up with a first-and-goal from the Greenfield 5 with less than a minute left.
After Greenfield stopped three consecutive runs by Hebert, Fox tried to cross up the Wave by calling his own number on fourth-and-goal. The gamble might have worked had it not been for junior defensive end Hazon Thomas, who sniffed out the play and dropped Fox at the 2, to the delight of the Greenfield faithful.
The goal-line stand seemed to take the wind out of Frontier’s sails, and it was unable to control the ball much at all in the second half. Fox was sacked twice and intercepted twice by Hudson and Jake Elwell, and the Hawks coughed up the ball on their first offensive play after Wave deep man Max Pirozhkov ran a Brandon Bryant punt 70 yards up the gut for the game’s final touchdown. York-Welcome ran in the two-point conversion.
“Frontier played tough, and we made some mistakes and they capitalized on them,” Greenfield coach Mike Kuchieski said. “They are young — they’re where we were a few years ago — but they battle. While we’re happy to get out of here with the win, we’re never really satisfied and we shouldn’t be.”
Gordon said he was pleased with his team’s performance, which came despite diminished numbers and a lot of injuries.
“We’re banged up, but the kids gave it their all,” Gordon said. “We were losing people left and right out there, and we made a lot of mistakes, but we’re improving every week.”
Greenfield looked to have extended the lead early in the fourth when Borden appeared to take it in from 17 yards out, but the referee ruled that he fumbled before he broke the plane of goal line. The play was ruled a touchback, which gave Frontier the ball at its own 20.