After the opening fireworks though, things settled down and the rustiness from both teams showed on offense in the first half. Westfield was able to move the ball pretty well with the run game, but wasn’t able to turn that into points, as turnovers and penalties stalled their drives. The passing game had some flashes of good play, but for the most part was a little off. Overall though, the first half showed the typical rust you would expect in a first game of the year in 100 degree heat.
The second half was a little more encouraging on the offensive side of things as the Hornets were able score 14 points. Ryan Fitzpatrick showed his wheels with some big runs, and was able to squeeze into the end zone from five yards out to put Westfield up 14-0 in the 3rd quarter. Josh Jenkins then showed his wheels as well with a big 55 yard TD run in the 4th to cap his big night of 140 plus yards rushing. I would imagine we will see more of Mr. Jenkins throughout the year.
As for the Westfield defense… they looked good. Gang Green was all over the field creating havoc for the Southland offense. Wade Walker led the way as the defensive captain with 11 tackles, showing again why he was the leading tackler a year ago. Other bright spots on defense were John Walker Moore and Tucker Moody. JW Moore played extremely well and made it difficult for the Southland running backs to run through the middle of the defense. Tucker did what he always does as well with great play on the outside knifing between blockers and making some big tackles.
The biggest factor in the game had nothing to do with the game planning though, it was the heat. With temperatures hovering around the triple figures, it was difficult to deal with for everyone (yours truly included). As to be expected, both teams struggled with cramps and fatigue. There really isn’t much you can do there, other than hydrate as much as possible and keep on stretching. All you can do regarding the heat is pray for cooler temperatures in the weeks to come.
Overall, Westfield displayed their championship prowess and showed the ability to win a game in which they did not play their best. There are things to improve on for sure going into the second game, but the effort was there and that is what you are really looking for. If they can maintain the effort, Coach Jones and his staff will put his players in the correct positions to win football games.
Here are some extra tidbits on some things we noticed:
New guys that impressed:
Moody Law Firm Big Hit of the Game: Gavin Edmondson
Walker Insurance Play of the Game: Reagan Waller’s 92 yard opening KO return
Sonic Drive-In Offensive Player of the Game: Josh Jenkins
CW Williams Defensive Player of the Game: Wade Walker
David Ragan Ford Special Teams Player of the Game: Reagan Waller