With teams focused on stopping the aerial threat of South Fork quarterback Joey Wittlake, what worked for the Cubs on Friday against Hoopa Valley?
A strong running game and a good defensive effort.
Wittlake did throw a 24-yard touchdown strike to Troy Langley, but he also rushed for 95 yards - including a six-yard TD burst through several tacklers - to help lead South Fork to a 26-14 Little 4 win over the Warriors.
”Our offensive line, all five, blocked well, and we ran behind big Cole Jacinto,” said Cubs head coach Andy Olsen. “Our backs were running hard.”
In addition to Wittlake, Dylan Phelps-Harding rushed for 82 yards, including a four-yard TD run, Langley carried the rock for 101 yards, and Cole Moody powered for 39 yards, including a one-yard TD plow.
The game started off well for the Warriors, especially after they scored their first touchdown just 86 seconds into the contest. Nick Moon scored from one yard out to cap a four-play, 57-yard drive that featured a 41-yard dash by Jared Wilder.
The Hoopa Valley senior had a great game, picking up 137 rushing yards on 18 carries.
But the Cubs defense stymied the home team’s run game for much of the next three quarters. They stopped the Warriors four times on downs, including once inside the 10-yard line in the second quarter.
In the fourth quarter, however, Hoopa Valley generated an 85-yard drive, with Merv George III delivering an electrifying 61-yard run.
George finished with 95 rushing yards on nine carries. But Wittlake engineered the Cubs’ answer, as he moved the team down the field and broke several tackles for his six-yard TD run.
Both teams moved the chains in this game, with the Cubs grinding out 17 first downs and the Warriors picking up 13.
PHOTOS COURTESY OF NICK ADAMS/THE TIMES-STANDARD
1. South Fork’s Asa Purnell applies a textbook stiff arm to a Hoopa Valley defender.
2. Hoopa Valley quarterback Jake Colegrove eludes a South Fork defender for a three-yard touchdown run.