CARMICHAELS – The McGuffey high school football team has been having a lot of fun at the end of games this season. After every win, the players count down from their total points scored in the victory all the way down to zero along with their band, cheerleaders and fans.
“It was a tradition when I got here,” said McGuffey head coach Ed Dalton. “We were coming home from our first win in 2012, and they started counting on the bus. It’s lived ever since. It’s a little more fun (now) than when you only score four.”
Prior to Friday night’s game against Carmichaels, McGuffey had scored 41, 42 and 55 points over the first three weeks, all wins. The Highlanders continued their high-scoring ways against the Mikes, riding quarterback Marshall Whipkey’s four-touchdown night – three passing, one rushing – to a 48-26 victory to move to 4-0 overall and 2-0 in the Interstate Conference.
“We didn’t execute,” said Carmichaels head coach Ryan Krull. “It’s tough to simulate the speed of the game in practice because a lot of times our guys who are running the scout team aren’t getting after our quarterback like these guys are. I think that was the main difference – pressure on the quarterback. That’s not just the guys up front, (it’s) backs in protection, too. But we dropped balls, we missed open receivers. We all have to take responsibility in this, and (the players) will and they did.”
Whipkey finished his night completing five of eight passes for 183 yards and three touchdowns while adding a three-yard touchdown run.
Carmichaels (1-2, 1-2) opened up the game with a 17-play drive that was capped with a five-yard touchdown run by Bailey Jones with 3:44 remaining in the first quarter to go up 6-0 following a missed extra point. McGuffey wasted no time as Whipkey hit 6-4 receiver C.J. Cole for a 63-yard touchdown on its first offensive play of the game to take a 7-6 lead.
“It felt like a real momentum shift,” said Dalton. “We got the extra point, they didn’t get it, so we get the lead after they just worked their butt off to score. Then we scored again right away.”
Cole intercepted Carmichaels quarterback Kevin Kelly on the next drive, leading to another Highlanders touchdown.
After a turnover on downs, the Highlanders capitalized again on a 10-play, 68-yard drive that was finished off with a 30-yard circus catch by Cole, where he pinned the ball on a Carmichaels defender’s back in mid-air and maintained control as he fell to the ground in the end zone.
“That might be the best high school catch I’ve ever seen,” said Dalton.
Carmichaels inched closer with a touchdown run by Kelly with 2:30 remaining in the second quarter, but McGuffey scored twice more before the end of the half to go up 34-12.
Whipkey connected on another deep touchdown throw early in the third quarter, hitting Nathan Yagle for a 57-yard score, and added a 63-yard touchdown run by Kyle Brookman to round out the scoring for the Highlanders.
Carmichaels got some late life, scoring two touchdowns over the final four minutes and recovering two onside kicks, but that’s all the Mikes could muster.
“If you’re going to be a good football team and get to where you want to go, you can’t have consistent missed execution, you just can’t do it,” said Krull. “There were times we kept doing things and had guys in open spots and we just missed. Just missed opportunities.”