Spartan Strong: Webb pulls away from CAK, remains perfect on the season

By Bill Howard

After the first five games this season, Webb School of Knoxville’s football team was 5-0, and had not been challenged.

Friday night the Spartans went on the road – less than half a mile down Dutchtown Road –  to face regional rival Christian Academy of Knoxville.

Make it six for the boys in green.

Webb jumped to a quick 14-0 lead, weathered a Warriors’ first-half comeback, then put the game away with a 14-0 second half. The final was 42-12.

“It’s the start you want,” said Spartans’ coach Don Mahoney. “The game plan, I give our offensive staff tremendous credit. For two weeks in a row, we came out and set the tone with what we wanted to do.”

The “tone” Mahoney referenced was Webb touchdowns on its first two plays from scrimmage.

After forcing CAK to punt on the game’s opening possession, Spartan quarterback Jack Wagner hit Markeis Barrett over the top for a 77-yard touchdown bomb and a 7-0 lead.

Gregory Tate returned CAK’s ensuing punt 37 yards to the Warriors’ 37. On the first play, running back Jalen Hill took the handoff, went right, and then bolted to the end zone for a 14-0 score four minutes into the game.

“When you give up a one-play drive, it’s not good,” said CAK coach Chad Speck.

It looked entirely like a rout was in the making, but CAK fought back. A 46-yard pass from quarterback Aiden Troutt to Will Kelley put the ball on Webb’s three. Two plays later Lincoln Rich took it in to cut the lead to 14-6.

“Give them all the credit in the world for their scheme and what they do with it,” said Mahoney.

The Spartans made it 21-6 early in the second when Wagner, on third and goal from the six, hit Harvey Niendorff for the score.

But CAK cut it to 21-12 with 5:04 left in the half when Troutt floated a pass to Kelley that he hauled in just inside the right sideline of the end zone. The 11-play 71-yard drive was helped by three Webb penalties.

“The officials hurt us,” said Mahoney. “I’m gonna call it like it is… calls weren’t clearly explained. All in all there were some things that happened …we just move on.”

A 21-12 halftime score would have kept CAK very much alive, but a late-half turnover was a killer.

A fumble by Troutt was recovered by Webb’s Mason Testerman, and the Spartans had the ball on CAK’s 19 with 43 seconds to go. On second and 18 from the 28, Wagner hit Baxter Johnson for the score, and the half ended 28-12, Spartans.

Webb’s second-half D, helped by a continuous clock in the fourth, snuffed out any further Warriors’ comeback. Four second-half possessions by CAK resulted in three punts and a loss of possession on downs.

“We did a good job with our staff at halftime,” said Mahoney.  “Being able to adjust and creating third and long situations … great job by our defense.”

“They fly around, they play physical, they play it the way you’re supposed to play,” said Speck. “You gotta give them a ton of credit, they’re a physical bunch.”

Webb put the game long away on the second half’s opening possession when Wagner found Johnson wide open for a 38-yard score and 34-12 lead.

For the game, Wagner was 8 of 19 for 166 yards and four touchdowns. He also threw a pick. Hill carried 13 times for 79 yards in Webb’s balanced offense.

“What we were able to do is attack both through the air and the ground,” said Mahoney. “It’s a good combination to have.”

Troutt’s completion numbers were very good: 17 of 21 for almost 81 percent, for 126 yards and a touchdown. Kelley had four catches for 79 yards and a score.

The Warriors’ running game never got on track. CAK gained a mere 19 yards on the ground.

Webb linebacker Cooper Cameron had nine tackles which included a sack and a tackle for loss. Defensive lineman Ari Klasky had four TFLs for the Spartans.

The Division II AA-East Region win kept Webb perfect at 6-0 overall, 4-0 Region. CAK fell to 3-3 overall, 2-2 Region.

“Still plenty of games to go, great chance to get to the playoffs,” said Speck.

Friday night CAK travels to play Regional foe Chattanooga Christian. Webb hosts Brainerd (from Chattanooga) in a non-regional contest.