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Hurricane, Woodrow pack potent offenses

Chris Dorst
Running back Zach Pate has scored six touchdowns this season for Hurricane.

In a matchup of blinding offenses, it may come down to who blinks first. Blink too soon, and someone may be breaking away for a touchdown.

Hurricane and host Woodrow Wilson, a pair of early-season Class AAA unbeatens, bring dizzying attacks into tonight's showdown at Van Meter Stadium in Beckley. Kickoff is set for 7:30.

The red-hot Redskins have racked up 13 offensive touchdowns in two games and average an absurd 538 yards and 47.5 points. The Flying Eagles are no slouches themselves, averaging 37 points and 420 net yards.

"The biggest thing that's impressed me,'' said Woodow coach John H. Lilly, "is their passing game. I think their quarterback [Austin Hensley] is as accurate as I've seen a high school quarterback in a long time.

"I know there's a lot of good quarterbacks in the state, but this kid is as accurate as I've seen. They've gone to a three-step passing game and are butchering people with it. I'm sure it will give us fits Friday night.''

Hensley, a second-year starter, completes 53 percent of his attempts and has thrown for 573 yards and seven TDs against just one interception. He's been sacked just once and has already tossed scoring passes to five different receivers. Elusive Koi Turner leads the stable of wideouts with 14 catches for 218 yards and two TDs.

Then there's a running back tandem that incredibly picks up double-figure yards per carry. Zach Pate (323 yards, four TDs) averages 21.5 yards and Steven Handley (128 yards) averages 12.8. Pate broke off a 98-yard scoring run in the opener.

"Our competition says a lot about that,'' said Jeremy Taylor, the Redskins' first-year coach. "Nitro and Winfield, we had them outmanned. It's going to get tougher this weekend. We've got a real good test.''

The Flying Eagles lean on third-year QB Andrew Johnson, who has personally accounted for 50 points on seven touchdowns (four rushing, three passing) and six conversions (four kicking, one rushing, one passing).

Johnson leads Woodrow in rushing (246 yards) and passing (212 yards) and directs an option attack with several speedy backs, including Ramon Edwards, who placed second in the state meet in the 100-meter dash last spring.

"They're fast,'' Taylor said. "We've definitely got to play our technique and our schemes. We can't let them run around and do what they want to do. We've got to do what we're taught. They can't look around in the backfield and all that X action stuff.

"There's no substitute for speed, and they've got lots of it. They do what they do, and do it pretty well. They can run the power-I and the guy fakes it and takes it.''

In the Flying Eagles' opener, a 32-14 win against Princeton, both Johnson (146 yards, two TDs) and Cole Williams (117 yards, TD) went over the century mark with a score.

"We're an option team,'' Lilly said, "and I know it's a coaching cliché, but we really try to take what the defense is giving us. When you run the triple option, three, four things can happen when we run out of the shotgun. It really boils down to what the defense gives us, and we ride it from there.

"[Johnson's] had two phenomenal games, and it's no secret he leads the pack for us. We've got a couple other kids that can move a little bit, too, so it should be exciting and fun.''

Woodrow would like to make up for last year's game, which also pitted a pair of 2-0 teams at Redskin Stadium. In that contest, Pate scored on a 1-yard run with 2:11 left in the game to give Hurricane a 21-14 victory.

"We were disappointed last year,'' Lilly said, "because we had so many starters out and it's very, very tough for high school kids to cover when a quarterback is that precise.

"They've got two, three skill people that can really make it happen. I'm really impressed with the job they've done with their passing game. We play good, quick kids who can hurt you in the open field, but they run such precise patterns and do such a good job, it's hard to prepare for.''

Hurricane tackle Brent Sargent, who sat out last week's game with an infection, has been cleared to play tonight.

Reach Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or rickryan@wvgazette.com.


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