Waubonsie Valley options Zack Bennema to beat Bartlett

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The temptation, when a team throws 49 points up on the board and gets a running clock started with 10:38 remaining like Waubonsie Valley did in Friday night’s rout of Bartlett, is to focus on the offense.

It’s hard not to, reviewing the No. 9 Warriors’ 49-7 blowout that lifted them to 4-0 and 2-0 in the Upstate Eight Valley.

“That’s the power of the option,” Waubonsie Valley coach Paul Murphy said. “You’ve got three things you’ve gotta stop: the dive, the quarterback and the pitch back. They left our quarterback open, and our quarterback is pretty special.”

Senior quarterback Zack Bennema reeled off a 40-yard run on the Warriors’ first drive to set up his 2-yard TD run. Bennema finished with eight carries for 97 yards and three touchdowns, the others coming on runs of 39 and 15 to open the third quarter.

In between, he executed a pitch to Tony Durns (nine carries, 116 yards), who motored 49 yards for a score then mixed it up on an 11-play, 62-yard drive. It featured three completions for 48 yards to Keaton Casey. The final one covered 25 yards for a score.

“I’m OK with running. Obviously, as a quarterback, I like to throw the ball, but if they’re not stopping the run, why not stick with it?” Bennema said.

The Hawks’ plan wasn’t to sell out, said Bartlett coach Tom Meaney, whose team fell to 2-2 and 1-1.

“You try to put guys on each phase,” he said. “Their quarterback does a really good job of riding that dive back and selling it. You’ve got to be disciplined and tonight, we lacked a little discipline.

“They’re good. That’s why they’re a ranked team.”

Bartlett marched 71 yards in 11 plays on its opening drive, eating up 5:19 and tying it on a 10-yard scoring run from Travious Brown-Utley.

It appeared to be a matchup of the classic children’s story, The Tortoise and the Hare, until Waubonsie Valley’s defense got to work and sent the tortoise to its shell.

“We were trying to take them out of their runs and make them pass the ball,” Warrior senior linebacker Luke Marzano said. “The first series they were going quick and we had trouble adjusting.”

Bartlett had 93 yards of total offense and was getting the ball to start the second half trailing 21-7. A holding penalty on the return pushed them back and Waubonsie’s defense forced three straight punts that were followed by quick Warrior scores due to great field position.

The Hawks finished with 84 total yards.

“Coach always preaches to us the first six minutes of the second half are he most important part of the game,” Marzano said. “We just wanted to force a three-and-out.”

And the unit doesn’t mind quick returns to the field.

“We’ve got a lot of weapons on offense,” Marzano said. “As long as they get into the end zone, we’ll be ready to go, no matter how quick they score.”

Nolan Bernat ran 20 times for 71 yards for Bartlett.

Waubonsie Valley got late scores on a 10-yard run from Rodney Gee and a 5-yard run from fullback Ryan Berg.

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