Wildcats end East’s outstanding season
East Davidson’s bid for its first ever 10-win season came to a halt Friday night at West Stokes.
Led by a dual-threat sophomore quarterback, the Wildcats racked up more than 500 yards of total offense en route to a 36-13 win over East in the first round of the NCHSAA 2-AA playoffs.
“I felt like we had a good plan, some things we could hit them with early to get the lead,” said Golden Eagles coach Vance Hanner. “I felt like if we could get the lead, with their running style, we had a good chance. Field position just kicked our tail early.”
West Stokes had a pair of 100-yard rushers. Rashad Witherspoon led the Wildcats with 158 yards on 25 carries, and Malik Banner had 106 yards on just eight carries. Quarterback Alex Manley also netted 86 yards rushing on 10 carries in addition to his 152 yards through the air.
The game-changing play came in the third quarter on 4th-and-goal from the Wildcats’ 8 yard line when East quarterback Austin Wallace’s pass intended for Michael Ramos was intercepted in the end zone. That interception ended a promising drive and preserved a 28-13 lead for West.
Three plays later, Banner broke through the defense and scored on a 73-yard run to pay dirt.
“That’s the difference right there,” Hanner said. “I made a bad call. They had Ramos covered on the slant. Everybody in the world is going to cover him, so that’s a terrible call. If we could have put that in, we have a great chance to win this game.”
Trailing 15-0 after one quarter of play, East got on the scoreboard when Michael Ramos caught a 35-yard pass three minutes into the second quarter. Not to be outdone, Manley threw a beautiful ball to the corner of the end zone on a 32-yard pass play that gave West a 21-7 lead.
With a short field following a failed onside kick, Austin Wallace quickly moved the Eagles down the field and scored on an 11-yard TD run. Wallace finished with a touchdown both running and throwing the football. He tallied 73 yards rushing on 13 carries, and also completed 11-of-20 passes for 147 yards.
“It’s been an honor to coach these 23 seniors,” Hanner said. “I can’t say enough about their effort, character, how much they care. They have made football important again in our community, and we’ll always be indebted to those guys for that. They’ve got the excitement level back up to where it needs to be.”
The Golden Eagles finish the season at 9-3.
Staff Writer Daniel Kennedy can be reached at 888-3575, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.