The Thomas Worthington High School football team wasted no time imposing its will on Whetstone on Friday, Sept. 2.
The visiting Cardinals blocked a punt three plays into the game, scored three plays after that and ran their way to a 34-0 victory in a nonleague game that was physically and emotionally decided by halftime.
Led by Eric Montfort and Tony Harvard, the Cardinals amassed 268 of their 380 yards on the ground after being held to 50 total yards in a 37-0 loss to Jonathan Alder in the opener. They limited Whetstone (0-2) to 149 yards.
Montfort ran for 82 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries, and Harvard added 50 yards on seven carries and dove for a 16-yard touchdown catch to open the scoring less than three minutes into the game.
"We really were in need of this after last week," Cardinals coach Scott Gordon said. "We didn't play on our heels. We were aggressive. We really wanted to run the ball, and we were able to do that. We have a few nice running backs and that offensive line is coming together nicely. We're making some good decisions."
The passing game was efficient, too. Sophomore starter Jalen Wells, one of three quarterbacks the Cardinals used, was 5-for-6 for 107 yards and a score.
Nana Kyeremeh blocked two punts, rushed three times for 36 yards and caught two passes for 6 yards, but the yardage wasn't as important as making himself as yet another threat.
"Our coach told us we could run the ball," said Kyeremeh, a Division I recruit. "They knew what was coming and couldn't stop it. We just kept going to that well."
Three plays after Kyeremeh's first blocked punt, Harvard made a spectacular diving catch to his right in the corner of the end zone for a 6-0 lead. The point-after attempt failed.
Whetstone drove to Thomas' 36 on its next possession before fumbling, and after a three-and-out the Cardinals used what they hope will be a prototypical drive to take a two-score lead. They drove 88 yards in 10 plays, seven of them runs, and Montfort scored from 2 yards to make it 13-0.
The Braves tried to convert a fourth-and-1 at their own 33 on their next possession but failed. Six plays later, Montfort scored from 9 yards on an option pitch for a 20-0 lead.
"Eric is a real strong running back and he has some power. He can run straight ahead," Gordon said. "Tony's more a scatback. He has some great vision and he can cut the ball back a lot."
Austin Kaiser ran for a 23-yard touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter, and Scott Brown returned a blocked punt for a touchdown 90 seconds later.
"This win means everything to us going to next week and our home opener," Montfort said. "It was important to get this and use some energy going forward."
THOMAS 6 14 0 14 -- 34
WHETSTONE 0 0 0 0 -- 0
TW-Harvard 16 pass from Wells (kick failed)
TW-Montfort 2 run (Shary kick)
TW-Montfort 9 run (Shary kick)
TW-Kaiser 23 run (Shary kick)
TW-Brown 27 blocked punt return (Shary kick)