HUBER HEIGHTS — Wayne (1-0) rode potent offense and a stifling defense to a dominant 56-20 win over out of state foe Austin-East (Knoxville) (1-1) at Wayne High School Friday Night.
“It’s really good to get the first one under your belt, get out of the gates and I’m really proud of these guys. The way they worked really hard over the off-season and this summer, even in camp, this preseason camp,” said Wayne Coach Jay Minton. “They demolished their opponent last week. I think they won like 31-12 so we knew they had the ability to put up some points and make you pay for some things if you didn’t get out and get after them”
The Roadrunners won the toss, deferred, kicked to Wayne and that would be the last kick Wayne would receive another kick until 8 minutes left in the third quarter.
Wayne’s offense was unstoppable; it employed a west coast style quick short passing game mixed with an efficient running game to score on five offensive drives in the first half. Wayne had 247 total yards (131 rushing, 116 passing) in the first half.
The defense was just as dominant, as it held Austin-East to 43 total yards. The Roadrunners had 75 yards passing but Wayne held them to -32 yards rushing. Wayne gave up more yards in penalty yards (60) than it did yards of offense.
Austin-East scored all 20 of its points during the running clock in the second half and 14 of those points were scored by reserves against the Wayne reserves.
Wayne’s opening drive, Rashad McKee scored the Warriors’ first touchdown of the season by slashing through the Austin-East defense from 10-yards out for the score at the 8:40 mark of the first quarter. After a Wayne defensive stop, Devin Nelson scored on the ensuing drive to put Wayne up 14-0 at the 1:25 mark in the first quarter.
Wayne benefitted from three Roadrunner fumbles in the first half. Two fumbles led to Wayne touchdown drives, while the other was returned for a touchdown, when sophomore defensive lineman Jerrod Couch took the ball away from an Austin-East back and sprinted into the end zone.
While Wayne used a tight end all preseason, it spread out the Roadrunner defense and worked the ball methodically down the field all night. Wayne had 389 total yards and 267 of those yards come on the ground. There were only a handful of throws longer than 10 yards but the running game was on point. Devin Nelson had 12 rushes for 84 yards and two touchdowns in the first half and played sparingly in the second half. McKee had 42 yards and two touchdowns on 4 carries.
Wayne’s performance was a breath of fresh air to those that have been following them throughout the preseason. The change in coaches and how the team will respond was fresh on the minds of Wayne fans and at times it was evident that Wayne is a work in progress.
“It’s tough to measure what we have right now. That team had a lot of good athletes. On this field before the game; they looked like a little college team,” said Coach Minton. “Our guys took it to them and we are really excited about that. I don’t like giving up 20 at the end of the game, but we’re real proud of it. It’s week one we are excited about getting out of the gates, and we have a whole lot of work to do. We gotta look at getting better. We have so far to go.”
There has been some concern in the stands about the youth of this team. That being said, every week we will learn something new about this team as it grows. The senior leaders have heard it all; how they need to step and lead the way for the freshman and sophomore starters.
“A lot of people counted these guys out, saying we’re young and all of that,” Minton added. “Somebody asked me to describe my team the other day. I said they’re a team that plays with a chip on its shoulder right now. Let’s hope they don’t lose that chip. They play pretty good with that chip.”
Wayne stays at home next week to take on COF Academy, a new school in Columbus. COF Academy lost to North Allegheny High School (Wexford, Pa) 45-20.