Scoring 37 points in a scorching second quarter, the Henry County Wildcats broke the program record for points in a quarter en route to a 50-13 win over Owen County and a perfect 4-0 start to the 2009 season.
Thanks to nifty running from Pete Baldwin, a strong right arm from Luke Magness and a defense that played like a brick wall, the Wildcats reached the end zone five times during the second 12-minute stretch to break the record and open the game. The Cats have continued to improve through the first four weeks of the season, culminating in the big 37-point home victory over Owen on Friday night. It was just the type of game Chris Engstrand was looking for, and points his team in the right direction with a tough Anderson County squad coming to New Castle this Friday night.
“We’re improving everywhere, we just have to get more consistent play, not just two to three series here and two to three series there,” Engstrand said. “That second quarter against Owen went really fast. You blinked your eyes and before we knew it we had 37 points. I was a bit disappointed in the first and third quarters, though. We definitely didn’t play well coming out of the locker room both times. If we can put four quarters together, we’ll be a tough team to handle.”
It was a breakout performance from Baldwin, who took 12 handoffs for 184 yards and two touchdowns. Henry finished with 308 yards on the ground, including 54 from Zach Rahm and 47 from Magness. Also, Magness was 9-of-23 passing for 182 yards and the Wildcats were just 10 yards shy of 500 total yards. Erick Butler caught three passes for a team-high 93 yards, Trevor Raisor caught four passes for 50 yards and Robbie McClesky caught two passes for 39.
“I don’t klnow if he just got more confidence or what, but this was definitely Pete’s game and he had a big one for us,” Engstrand said. “It was a collected team effort. Pete had a big game because our offensive line did a good job up front. We did the things we had to do.”
After neither team could score in a slow-played opening quarter, the Wildcats caught fire on both sides of the ball in the second to put the game out of reach. Just seven seconds in the lopsided quarter, Magness hooked up with McClesky for a 13-yard pass play to light up the scoreboard for the first time, and Dylan Doll kicked the extra point. But it wasn’t until five minutes later when Henry really started to roll.
During a 4:41 stretch, starting at the 6:46 mark, the Wildcats scored 30 points. Lance Timberlake picked up a fumble and returned it 12 yards to the end zone, and Justin Hartlage ran in the 2-point conversion on a trick play; Baldwin scored on a 51-yard run, and Doll kicked the extra point; Baldwin scored on a 67-yard run, and Hartlage ran in the 2-point conversion on another trick play; and Magness threw a pass to McClesky for a 26-yard TD play, and Doll kicked the extra point.
The Wildcats added two more touchdowns during the fourth quarter. At the 7:51 mark, Magness threw a short pass to Butler, who curled to the outside and sprinted down the sideline for a big 82-yard TD play, and Doll kicked the extra point. And with 2:05 remaining, John Allgeier ran the ball into the end zone from 3 yards out to put Henry ahead 50-13.
Owen scored its first touchdown during the second quarter when Luis Sanchez threw a 3-yard pass to Sawyer Williams, and scored its second TD during the third quarter when Joseph Wood scored on a 1-yard run. Owen, who dropped to 1-2 on the season, finished with 185 yards passing and 65 yards rushing for 250 total offense.
The momentum the Wildcats started to build came to a halt late in the second quarter when an injured Owen player caused a 30-minute delay. Henry’s Chris Amburgey picked off an Owen pass along the sideline, but the play was called back with off-setting penalties called against both schools. An Owen player, who eventually had to be taken off the field on a stretcher, went down on the play, causing the long delay. When play resumed, Owen moved the ball up field with two short runs then found Williams in the back of the end zone for the team’s first touchdown.
It didn’t take Henry very long to get rolling again, though, with Baldwin taking the handoff on the first play of the next drive and racing around a few defenders for his big 67-yard touchdown run. That play gave Henry a 30-7 lead and sealed a runaway win.
Besides the play he saw from his players on the field, Engstrand said he also wants to recognize the coaching staff. It includes Matt Wright as the associate head coach and linebacker coach, Dennis Ledford as the defensive coordinator and defensive line coach, Kevin Eades as the wide receiver coach, Lyndon Johnson and Cliff Dawson as the offensive line coaches, Phillip Guthrie as the running back coach, Ray Isaacs as the defensive back coach, Tim Rahm as the statistician and Amanda Crawford as the athletic trainer.
“Our coaching staff does not get the credit it deserves. They’re probably the hardest working group in the state,” Engstrand said. “They work their tails off. I have to give kudos for the work they put in.”
The Wildcats will be back in action this Friday night in their biggest test of the season when they host Anderson County at 7:30 p.m. Anderson is 3-0 this season with wins over Garrard County, 47-10, Meade County, 43-34, and Mercer County, 42-21. The contest is also Henry’s Homecoming game.
In the first Litkenhous Football Ratings released by the Courier-Journal early Tuesday morning, Anderson is No. 7 in Class 5-A with a 103.9 mark, while Henry is No. 7 in Class 3-A at 83.9. Anderson will bring to New Castle a physical team in front of a Mr. Football candidate in senior quarterback Jake Russell. Through three games, he has thrown for 637 yards and six touchdowns.
“Anderson has a really good club,” Engstrand said of the anticipated showdown between the two undefeated teams. “They do a lot of things well and their coach has really built that program from a doormat team to a contender. We need to be focused and need all the support we can get from Henry County.”
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