CLAYSVILLE – This week was a return to sanity for the McGuffey football program.
After the team’s matchup last week with Ambridge was moved pushed back a day because Ambridge forgot to hire an officiating crew, the Highlanders had to wait a day.
Last Friday night was all about confusion and frustration for head coach Ed Dalton. This Friday was all about football, all the Whipkey brothers, Marshall and McKinley, and, most importantly, all about winning. The Highlanders pulled away from perennial Class A power Clairton in the second half for a 42-27 win.
“I knew our AD would have officials,” Dalton joked. “It was good to get back to normal and play a really good team like Clairton here. That was nice.”
Marshall Whipkey rushed for three touchdowns out of McGuffey’s option attack and tossed two more despite only throwing only five passes. He ended the night running for 103 yards on 13 carries and completing three of five passes for 73 more yards. McKinley Whipkey played what Dalton believed was the best game of his career, running for 112 yards on 19 carries and a score. In total, the Highlanders rushed for 337 yards, which was almost as much as Clairton’s total yardage for the night (353).
While Marshall Whipkey plays the more celebrated position of the two, Dalton believes that McKinley’s role is equally vital in the option.
“I tell everybody, with (how we run our offense) the fullback is just as important as the quarterback,” Dalton said. “So if he doesn’t hit that mesh and make them defend him, then our whole offense has trouble.”
McGuffey tallied early on, scoring on a 10-yard quarterback keeper by Marshall Whipkey. It looked like Clairton would answer soon after, but a goal-line stand at the one-yard line on a quarterback sneak by Brendan Parsons kept the Bears from breaking through.
Clairton eventually cracked the McGuffey defense in the second quarter with a 9-play, 75-yard scoring drive capped by a fourth-down touchdown pass from Parsons to Kenlein Ogletree. Ogletree’s extra point gave the Bears their first lead of the night. It wouldn’t last long.
McGuffey’s run heavy offense pulled a pass play out of its arsenal, as Marshall Whipkey hit receiver Jared Johnson for a 25-yard score to put the Highlanders back in front. Clairton punched backed again on its next possession. A long kickoff return by Ogletree put the Bears in prime position to tie, which they would do on Ogletree’s second touchdown reception, this one from seven yards. The PAT made the score 14-14.
The second half belonged to the Highlanders. On McGuffey’s first possession, McKinley Whipkey carried several Clairton defenders on his back before landing in the end zone to complete a seven-yard score. The PAT was good, and the Highlanders had the lead and the momentum back, up 21-14.
Later in the quarter, Marshall Whipkey’s second touchdown run put McGuffey up by two scores and in complete command.
The Highlanders sealed the win with a 92-yard drive midway through fourth quarter that ended with a touchdown pass from Marshall Whipkey to C.J. Cole. Whipkey’s third touchdown run was sandwiched between two meaningless Clairton scores, and McGuffey left with a 42-27 win.
Clairton head coach Wayne Wade declined comment after the game.
“I don’t have any comments,” he said. “We lost.”
While Dalton is happy with the win, he knows that McGuffey has a lot of work to do to reach its objectives.
“We’re no closer to the playoffs than we were (before tonight),” he said. “We had a great preseason, we went 2-0. We had a great scrimmage season, I think we went 1-0 in that. Now, it’s time to play the regular season and see what we’re worth.”