With his football team holding a one-touchdown lead at Watkins Memorial but preparing to punt late in the first half Sept. 5, Walnut Ridge senior Qian Magwood connected with classmate Marshawn Mankins for a 50-yard touchdown on a perfectly executed fake en route to a 24-13 win.
Scots coach Byron Mattox had been hoping to get Mankins an opportunity to make a big play, but it also fell along the lines of one of the Scots' themes when they hit the field every week.
"We want the kids to have fun," Mattox said.
Coming off a 9-2 finish and out to a 2-0 start, Walnut Ridge has had plenty of fun lately.
After opening with wins over Mifflin (64-0 on Aug. 30) and Watkins Memorial, the Scots will look to remain unbeaten and earn a third consecutive victory over Beechcroft when they play host to the Cougars on Friday, Sept. 13.
While Walnut Ridge and South are the only City League programs out to 2-0 starts, the Cougars are 1-1 after losing to Central Crossing 10-0 on Sept. 6.
Mattox is a former Beech-croft assistant, and the Walnut Ridge coaching staff includes former Brookhaven assistant Steve Ayers, who serves as defensive coordinator.
"We know Beechcroft is going to be a tough opponent because they always are," Mattox said. "They're going to be well-coached. I coached there for a whole bunch of years and I've got coaches on my staff that coached at Brookhaven and they're always motivated to go against Beechcroft, so we're excited about the opportunity."
Beechcroft was limited to 148 yards of offense in its Week 2 loss as the Comets held the ball for more than 30 minutes.
Diante Latham rushed 13 times for 46 yards and had three receptions and Davon Wooden added four catches for 58 yards to lead the Cougars' offense, while Alhaji Sidibe finished with 10 tackles and Demetrius Haynes had an interception on defense.
The Cougars struggled with ball security in a 15-12 win over Dayton Ponitz on Aug. 30 and had four turnovers in the loss to the Comets.
Last season, Walnut Ridge beat Beechcroft 41-6.
"(Walnut Ridge is) a huge challenge," first-year Beechcroft coach Lee Snyder said. "They're great. Coach Mattox has been there for a while and last year they destroyed us and showed they were the better team. This year, we'll see how much we've progressed and grown."
Devils football team earns tight victory
The Marion-Franklin football team bounced back from a 24-8 loss to Granville on Aug. 30 by edging visiting Westland 37-34 on Sept. 6.
The Cougars missed what would have been a game-tying field goal during the final moments.
It was a performance that coach David Lakso hopes he can use as a building block as the Red Devils prepare to play Friday, Sept. 13, at home against Reynoldsburg, which improved to 2-0 with a 41-7 win over Licking Heights on Sept. 6.
"I was really impressed with how we faced adversity and kept battling," Lakso said. "We had three turnovers in the first half and a drop on a wide open touchdown ... I was impressed with how we fought back and finished the game."
Marion-Franklin lost to Reynoldsburg 36-6 in Week 3 last season and the Raiders went on to finish 10-2.
Dijon Jennings and Michael Whatley are splitting time at quarterback for Reynoldsburg and both were effective against Licking Heights.
Jennings, a sophomore, completed all nine of his pass attempts for 128 yards and two touchdowns and rushed five times for 71 yards. Whatley, a senior and the returning starter, was 5-for-11 passing for 113 yards and one score.
Wide receivers James Dean, Shon Strickland and Mikah Coleman all had one touchdown reception for the Raiders and running back Omari Jones rushed for two scores.
Against Westland, Red Devils quarterback Jeremiah Tucker completed 14 of 21 passes for 212 yards and one touchdown and rushed nine times for 56 yards and one score, Taylen James had 22 carries for 161 yards and three touchdowns and Jesse Johnson had six catches for 102 yards and one score.
Sophomore left guard Jaquan Lauderdale is expected to return to the Red Devils' lineup after missing the game against Westland with an injury.
"(Reynoldsburg is) real big and athletic," Lakso said. "We've got 30 kids. I'm sure they've got about 30 kids at every position. We just want to compete and try to hold our own on a top Division I team. They're big and fast everywhere."
Vikings, Cougars runners begin seasons
The Beechcroft and Northland cross country programs will compete in the Arrowhead Invitational on Wednesday, Sept 18, at Whetstone.
On Sept. 7 in the 43rd annual Northland Invitational held at Beechcroft, the Vikings girls team finished second (67 points) of seven teams, behind Watterson (15), and the Vikings boys were seventh (154) of 11 teams, behind champion Watterson (30).
Northland senior Aaron Holley finished 14th in the boys race and Vikings sophomore Nahdia Alcorn was 14th in the girls race.
Sophomore Nahjae Alcorn and juniors Leilah Clark and Isabel Alberto also have been among the top runners for the Northland girls team, while other top runners for the Vikings boys squad have been seniors Eugene Boahen and Robert Dorsey and sophomore Steph Reavish.
Senior Jamie Cornejo has been leading the Beechcroft boys team, according to coach Humphrey Simmons. Senior Erick Escobar and junior Jaylen Hudson are other competitors for the Cougars.