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Wetzel dismantles Dragons

Wetzel dismantles Dragons
Wetzel dismantles Dragons
North Harrison’s Owen Whittaker scrambled for a touchdown in the first half of the Cougars’ 41-0 win over the Silver Creek Dragons. The junior suffered a broken leg on the opening kickoff of the second half and was transported to a local hospital. Photo by Wade Bell
By Wade Bell, Sports Writer

You never know what you’re going to see when you go to a sports event, and that was the case Friday night when the North Harrison Cougars traveled to Silver Creek High School in Sellersburg for a Mid-Southern Conference contest with the Dragons. Most were anticipating a battle royal between the two rivals, but what happened instead was a Cougars’ onslaught with North Harrison getting a 41-0 win.

“Defensively, I knew it was coming around,” said North Harrison coach Mark Williamson. “I thought we came around last week against Pekin. This week, I don’t think you can do any better than that. I’m happy.”

The first quarter belonged to North Harrison running back Sawyer Wetzel, who scored three touchdowns in the period. Silver Creek took the ball first and got as close as the North Harrison 18-yard line. Following a Dragons’ holding penalty, Silver Creek failed to get a first down and were forced to give the ball to the Cougars.

Wetzel carried the ball on four of the five plays needed to score, running in from 49 yards out. Josh Waynescott punched the extra point, and the Cougars had a 7-0 lead.

North Harrison forced a turnover on Silver Creek’s next possession, batting away a pass and Owen Whittaker catching the ball for the interception. Three plays later, Wetzel was in the end zone again, this time from 23 yards out and a 14-0 lead. The Cougars’ defense continued to dominate, forcing the Dragons to boot the ball away and North Harrison taking over on its own 19-yard line. Wetzel got his third touchdown on the first play of next possession with an 81-yard run for a 21-0 lead after one period.

The Dragons again went three and out, and a short punt put the Cougars in scoring position on the Silver Creek 33-yard line. Following a missed pass, Whittaker got the call on the next play and scored on a 33-yard run. Waynescott stayed perfect, and the Cougars’ lead ballooned to 28-0.

Neither team scored on their next possessions. The Dragons intercepted a North Harrison pass but failed to convert. The Cougars kept the ball on the ground on their next possession and, with just over 30 seconds left in the half, Payton King scored on a one-yard run. Waynescott got the extra-point for a 35-0 lead and a second-half running clock.

Wetzel said the mindset coming into the game was simple.

“Just hit them from the start,” he said. “That was pretty much all of it, get on them early and don’t look back.”

The Cougars were hit with disaster to start the second half on the opening kick-off return when Whittaker suffered a broken lower leg. The North Harrison junior was immediately tended to trainers from both schools and an air splint was applied. Whittaker was then taken by ambulance to a hospital for further evaluation.

“We were devastated,” Wetzel said. “We wanted to do the rest of the game for him. We hope he can come back and it’s not too serious.”

“We’re banged up,” Williamson said. “Our two leading tacklers are out right now. Owen Whittaker, we lost him during the game. Will (Leffler) is out. He’s a crazy linebacker. He has 18 or so tackles a game. He’s the best I’ve had.”

Neither team scored during the third quarter.

Wetzel got his fourth touchdown a minute and a half into the final period on a five-yard touchdown. Waynescott missed that kick, leaving the score at 41-0. The Dragons hurried down the field on their last possession to avoid the shutout, working the ball to the North Harrison 14-yard line. The clock, however, worked against them, and Cougars took home the 41-0 win.

“What I expected to accomplish was to go 5-2,” Williamson said. “They did that. I didn’t think there was any chance it would be like this, with a running clock the whole second half. We played hard. I’m happy to be 5-2, but at the same time I’m worried about these injuries creeping up on us because we’ve been fortunate. We knew all season we’d have to be injury-free because we have no depth. We’re down to playing some freshmen in spots.”

Wetzel had a huge night for the Cougars with 17 carries for 242 yards rushing. King had 42 yards on eight carries, and David Langdon carried seven times for 39 yards. North Harrison was 2-of-6 passing for 41 yards, had five penalties for 55 yards lost and turned the ball over twice.

“I give it all up to the line,” Wetzel said. “They had some pretty massive holes and they’re great … I thought it was going to be a lot closer. We played our heart out, and that’s what happens when you play hard.”

Charles Berkley had 31 yards on 10 carries for the Dragons, and Jamari Powell carried four times for 22 yards. Silver Creek was 4-of-13 passing for 36 yards, had three penalties for 21 yards and turned the ball over once.

“I think our defense is going to keep rattling,” said Williamson. “I think we’re getting better. I said it before the year, it’s the fastest defense we’ve had since I’ve been here. Now, you take our two leading tacklers off and that’s probably not true anymore, but they took a couple of hard knocks against Charlestown and Brownstown and our confidence was staggered and now it’s come back so that’s good.”

North Harrison 21 14 0 6 – 41
Silver Creek 0 0 0 0 – 0
North Harrison – Sawyer Wetzel, 49-yd run (Josh Waynescott kick); North Harrison – Wetzel, 23-yd run (Waynescott kick); North Harrison – Wetzel, 81-yd run (Waynescott kick); North Harrison- Owen Whittaker, 33-yd run (Waynescott kick); North Harrison – Payton King, 1-yd run (Waynescott kick); North Harrison – Wetzel, 5-yd run (kick failed).