WOODWARD — Senior Tanner Vermaas was named the Homecoming King (Bree Lesch was honored as Queen) at a coronation ceremony Thursday in the Woodward-Granger High School gym.
On Friday Vermaas turned in a royal performance on the gridiron, rushing 30 times for 212 yards and five touchdowns while adding three two-point conversion and one PAT kick as W-G dominated previously unbeaten Central Decatur, 43-13, in their Class 1A District 5 battle. The hosts turned a 15-7 lead after one quarter into a 31-7 halftime advantage and never looked back in bringing their record to 2-2 overall and 2-0 in district play. The Cardinals fell to 3-1 and 1-1 with the setback.
“I am really proud of my guys — they really showed up to play,” W-G head coach George Ashman said. “We were more physical than the other team for the second week in a row and it was good to see our offensive line start to step up their level of play. We will need them to continue to improve as we go along.”
Central Decatur quarterback Boothe Carter connected on 15-of-38 passes for 241 yards but only one completion produced points, exactly the outcome Ashman had hoped for.
“We were going to make sure we stopped the run, and then, if they wanted to hit short passes in front of us, that was fine,” he explained. “We did a good job of not letting their receivers get free after catching short balls and didn’t let them go over the top on us, which was what we had worked on preventing all week.”
W-G took a short opening kickoff and promptly marched down the turf, with Vermaas bulling over from two yards away and adding the two-point run for an 8-0 lead.
The Cardinals countered when Carter hit receiver Mickey Morgan on an inside screen that went the distance and cut the margin to 8-7 after Kade Kelso was accurate on the point-after kick.
A Vermaas one-yard dive and PAT kick made it 15-7 after one quarter, with another short Vermaas run combining with a 15-yards strike from quarterback Brendan Bird to a wide-open Logan Canova setting the halftime score at 31-7. The touchdown was the first varsity score for the senior tight end.
Bird finished 4-of-6 for 33 yards and the Canova TD. He was intercepted once, but Ashman said the team needed to do a better job of “catching the football.”
“Not necessarily this week, but in the past we have dropped too many balls and it has hurt us,” the coach said. “We need our passing game to be good enough to help us run the ball, and it is going to have to be considering who we still have to play.”
A Carter run allowed the Cardinals to trim their deficit to 31-13 early in the third quarter, but Vermaas broke loose for a 50-yard TD scamper to make it 37-13 later in the frame. A Vermaas run in the fourth period capped the scoring and secured a happy Homecoming.
Payton Tague (5-57), Austin Scharlau (11-48), Josh Saak (2-244) and Bird (7-28) also had carries for the hosts, while in addition to Canova’s TD grab Bird hit Saak three times for 18 yards.
Scharlau had 7.5 tackles, Saak and J.P. Nixon 5.5 each and Devan Kirkman four. Joe Sturgeon had a sack and fell on two fumbles, with Canova recording a sack while Scharlau also fell on a Cardinal fumble.
Morgan caught 10 passes for 156 yards and a score while Cole Pedersen pulled in five aerials for 85 yards.
Carter ran 13 times for 58 yards and one TD, with Kyle Potter (8-20) and Rayden Boswell (4-4) also toting the ball for the guests, who managed just 82 ground yards on 25 carries.
Pedersen had eight tackles, Justin Shields 6.5 and Wyatt Dale six for the visitor defense, with Carter returning an interception eight yards.
W-G will travel to Truro to face Interstate-35 Friday. Second-ranked Pella Christian blanked I-35, 49-0, Friday. The Roadrunners (I-35) were 8-2 victors over the host Hawks last season.