DOVER — With a young team and injured players to boot — most notably quarterback Jimmy Maples — West Vigo needed something good to happen early in its Class 3A Sectional 29 high school football opener at Western Boone.
Unfortunately for the Vikings, the opposite transpired. West Vigo trailed before it ever touched the ball on Friday. The uphill battle proved too much as Western Boone defeated West Vigo 40-22.
West Vigo (1-9) was dealt a bum hand from the midway point of the season from an injury standpoint. It never abated and losing Maples to a concussion for the sectional was just salt in the wounds.
“It’s the way its been all year. Once we hit a certain point, about Week 5, we had been injury-free, then they started mounting. After that, it was an avalanche. It took its toll on a thin team to begin with. We had a small senior and junior class,” West Vigo coach Jeff Cobb said.
The die was cast on the first play of the game. Western Boone’s Riggs Baxter took the opening kick back 79 yards to put the Stars up 7-0. Baxter, who also proved problematic in the Stars’ passing game, found a seam up the middle and raced past the VIkings’ defenders.
The pain didn’t end after the opening kickoff for West Vigo. On the Vikings’ first play from scrimmage, Dakota Short couldn’t get a handle on the pitch from freshman quarterback Joe Creasey. Western Boone recovered it at the West Vigo 40.
Six plays later, Nathanial Bye scored on a pitch left for a 5-yard touchdown to put the Stars up 14-0 just barely four minutes into the contest.
It was the first of five West Vigo turnovers. Four of them led to Stars scores.
“It was when they occurred. In a game like this, where you’re obviously the underdog, you have to capitalize from the get-go,” Cobb said. “We had a freshman quarterback under the lights for the first time on a Friday. That’s going to happen and we understood that.”
Sadly for the Vikings, the scenario repeated itself on West Vigo’s next series. Skyler Warnock fumbled on West Vigo’s second play at the West Vigo 48. Bye scored again at the 4:31 mark on a 17-yard counter to make it 21-0.
Once West Vigo got past its early mistakes, the Vikings had their moments. Tyler Gustafson and Joshua Beasley blitzed Western Boone quarterback Logan Wethington and didn’t allow him to escape his own end zone. West Vigo was on the board via safety to make it 21-2. The Vikings trailed 27-2 at halftime.
Whatever chance West Vigo had went away on the opening kick of the second half when a high kick was fumbled away by the Vikings. It led to a Western Boone touchdown, as did another fumble on West Vigo’s next series.
West Vigo finished by scoring 20 unanswered points. Warnock gave West Vigo’s offense its first score with a 15-yard scamper at the 4:23 mark of the third quarter. Warnock scored another touchdown with 7:58 left in the game on a 4-yard run. Big Sam McClain added another Vikings touchdown on a 1-run plunge with 4:02 left.
“I told [Western Boone] coach [Justin] Pelley I was going to put my JVs in, but we already had them on the field. We had a lot of freshmen and sophomores out there,” Cobb said.
West Vigo has 31 underclassmen on its roster. The Vikings took their lumps in a one-win season, but Cobb thinks the future holds promise.
“We had a lot of freshmen play this year,” Cobb said. “Those freshmen and sophomores who played and that’s going to payoff next year. You deal with the hand you’re dealt and that’s what we’ve done.”
Western Boone (7-3) advanced to play Brebeuf next Friday.