Warriors make it six straight on road at North Greene

Published 12:19 pm Friday, October 20, 2023

STAR CORRESPONDENT

BAILEYTON – When teams get ready to tackle Happy Valley senior running back Joseph Sowards, they had better have their helmet strapped tight, mouthpiece firmly in place, and be ready to absorb a punishment.

North Greene found that out on Thursday night in Baileyton as Sowards and the Happy Valley Warriors continued to jettison toward the post season with a 45-14 pounding of the Huskies.

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Although the score didn’t indicate it, the Region 1-1A Huskies came to play on Senior Night against the Region 1-2AA Warriors laying solid licks throughout the contest and scoring the first and last touchdowns of the contest.

The first score of the contest came at the 6:10 mark of the first quarter when North Greene quarterback Thomas Darnell found tight end Colton Robbins on a pass down to the two-yard line and Robbins fumbled the football but managed to jump on top of the loose pigskin for a Huskies score.

Kaleb Fields point-after was good and the home team led 7-0.

Sowards broke the goose egg on the Warrior side of the scoreboard with 39 seconds left in the first quarter when the bruising back bulled his way into the end zone from the one-yard line. Quarterback Aiden Paul found Gabe McDougald for the two-point conversion to give Happy Valley an 8-7 lead.

After pinning the Huskies deep on the ensuing kick, Sowards bolted through the North Greene offensive line and sacked Darnell for a safety, building the lead for the Warriors to 10-7 with 24 seconds still showing on the clock for the quarter.

The Warriors took the kick after the safety and once again, Sowards was back front and center as he romped 23 yards to pay dirt just under three minutes into the second quarter. Paul ran the conversion in and the Warriors were rolling, leading 18-7.

Happy Valley added one final score with one second on the clock before the half when Paul found Austin Nickels in the end zone for an eight-yard scoring toss. The two-point conversion failed and the Warriors took a 24-7 advantage to the locker room.

The Warriors received the second-half kickoff and once again, an efficient offense quickly led to another score.

Sowards tacked on his third touchdown of the night with 10:05 left in the third quarter on a six-yard plunge into the end zone. Paul’s two-point conversion was good and Coach Jason Jarrett’s team led 32-7.

An interception by the Warriors Landon Keller at the North Greene 35-yard line set up the next scoring opportunity for Happy Valley.

McDougald would take care of business on this drive as he capped it off with a 12-yard scoring dash with 5:24 remaining in the third quarter. The conversion failed and the Warriors were in control leading 38-7.

Happy Valley finished off their scoring in the fourth quarter when Paul took off on a nine-yard scamper into the end zone. Keller booted the point-after to make the score read 45-7.

With a running clock due to the point spread, North Greene added a second score with 4:34 to play when Darnell found Nicholas Miller on a 24-yard scoring toss with a Fields PAT giving the game it final score of 45-14.

Sowards finished the night with 24 carries for 151 yards and three scores. Easterline toted the football 13 times for 93 yards. Quarterback Paul carried the ball 11 times for 26 yards.

Happy Valley had 15 first downs in the contest. The Warriors lived in their punishing, smash-mouth offense as they racked up a total of 301 yards rushing and five yards passing for a total of 306 offense on the night.

“We just tried to keep playing power smash-mouth football,” said Jarrett after the game. “I give a lot of credit to North Greene. I think Coach Tilson and his staff do a tremendous job because this program down here is really on the right track. They had my attention coming into this game because I knew they had some good athletes. They matched us physically early but we responded well. We didn’t have a good start but we finished and it’s cliche but it’s not how you start but how you finish and we finished well.”

Jarrett had nothing but praise for the effort of Sowards in the contest.

“He is the alpha and is our guy,” said Jarrett. “He is physical on both sides of the football and we have to ride him. We do have some complimentary backs with him and sometimes we can use him in different things. The thing is that when you put the football in his hands he is going to make plays for you. He is just the epitome of a great high school football player but overall just a great individual as well.”

Happy Valley (6-3) finishes up the regular season next Friday at home against West Greene on Senior Night. Kickoff is slated for 7:30 pm.