Sports

Statesmen Flatten Colonials, Nab 1st Season Win

The George C. Marshall High School football team has had a rough go of it in 2009, with victories hard to come by. But for one night, everything seemed to go right for the Statesmen as the team trounced Thomas Jefferson 35-0 at home this past Friday. marshall2

The George C. Marshall High School football team has had a rough go of it in 2009, with victories hard to come by. But for one night, everything seemed to go right for the Statesmen as the team trounced Thomas Jefferson 35-0 at home this past Friday.

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Marshall celebrates its first season win. (Photo: Karen Newcomb)

Making the first win of the season that much sweeter was that it came in front of a homecoming crowd at Jimmie Miller Stadium.

“It took us a little while, but it was a good time to win it,” said starting quarterback Ryan Walter, whose team improved to 1-7. Walter threw for 57 yards and a touchdown in the win.

“The fans always want a victory at homecoming and Madison, so at least we got them one of those so far,” he said.

One of the motivating factors heading into the game Friday was that Jefferson beat Marshall soundly during its homecoming last season. The Statesmen hadn’t forgotten that.

“I really think it was our focus this week,” said Marshall Head Coach Bill Lapthorn. “They put it on us last year at their homecoming, and it’s something we talked about. With the way this season kind of went, we lost sight of that, but on Monday, that definitely came back up, and we had some very good senior leadership this week.”

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(Photo: Karen Newcomb)

That the Statesmen got good play from their seniors is putting it mildly. Marshall was led by a trio of seniors at each of the skill positions – Walter, wide receiver Jake Bennett and running back Victor Vanegas. It was Vanegas who carried the day, scoring four touchdowns on 14 carries for 142 yards.

“It means a lot to me,” said Vanegas of winning his school’s homecoming game. “We played our hearts out, we executed everything and everything came out as we planned. The gameplan worked. So we just came out and executed.

“It was a lot of pressure, going 0-7, it wasn’t easy,” he added.  “The ball was in our court, and it was a matter of what we could do with it. We came out and tore it up.”

The pressure of going winless was weighing on the team, according to Lapthorn, in his first year at the helm and formerly the offense line coach.

“We didn’t expect to be in this situation,” Lapthorn said.

“We expected to be much better. Here we are at home. There’s going to be a lot of people here. There’s a lot of hoopla around the game this week. With that being said, there was a lot of pressure being put on them.”

The game itself was atypical. Jefferson actually tallied 11 first downs to just one for Marshall, but the Colonials also turned the ball over five times and missed two field goals.

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Marshall Homecoming Queen, senior Kenzie Bainbridge (left), and King, senior Jon Torre. (Photo: Karen Newcomb)

Marshall jumped out ahead late in the first quarter off an 80-yard touchdown run, courtesy of fine line play by the Statesmen.

“Some of those big holes you see these guys running through, well, when the running back goes through for five yards untouched, he better get 15 or 20 yards,” said Lanthrop. “If you don’t get touched for five yards, you should score.”

“They started off as a group with not a lot of experience,” the coach continued about the offensive line. “There were a lot of new guys starting. The improvements that they’ve made since the first week have been absolutely unbelievable. Each week, they get a little better and a little better.”

Vanegas added another score midway through the second quarter off a three-yard run. That was followed by a 21-yard-pass from Walter to Bennett  for another score, giving the Statesmen a rare 21-0 half-time advantage.

Bennett finished with three catches for 45 yards.

It was more of the same in the third quarter, as Vanegas scored on runs of 32 and four yards for the 35-0 victory.

Next up, Marshall hosts Fairfax High School this Friday for senior night.  The team hopes to carry some momentum and apply lessons learned in their victory to their next game.

“Definitely, that intensity,” said Vanegas. “The energy’s there. We have a tough opponent next week – Fairfax, senior night, it’s the last [home] game of the season. We just have to come out with the same intensity. It’s not going to be easy, but we’re going to do our best and execute like we did today.”