Prep football: Warriors stun Blue Devils

GALLIPOLIS – Warren was an underdog going into its Southeastern Ohio Athletic League football game against Gallia Academy at Memorial Field Friday night.

But when the fourth quarter ended that evening, the Andy Schob-coached Warriors were the top dogs as they stunned and upset the Blue Devils, 31-21, effectively spoiling the defending league champion’s homecoming.

” I was so proud of the team and players for the way they approached every play,” Schob said. “Every player stayed focused and determined to do all that they could to make a difference, regardless what their role was.

“Our leaders did a great job and it was so loud on our sidelines and locker room, our Warriors definitely came to play, it made an awesome environment.”

The Friday before, Warren traveled a long distance to East Liverpool and were soundly defeated 35-7. With that setback, the Warriors third straight, they dropped to 2-5 overall on the season. Gallia Academy (5-2, 1-0) on that same Friday night downed Portsmouth 55-49.

How things can turn around in a week’s time – even in a year’s period. Last season, the Warriors suffered a 52-21 lost to the Blue Devils in Vincent.

Warren had not beaten the Blue Devils in 15 years.

Warren, now 3-5, 1-1, was definitely ready to play against GAHS (5-3, 1-1). On the Warriors’ first offensive possession, they staked themselves to a 7-0 advantage when quarterback Austin Klintworth threw a 29-yard touchdown pass to David Ryan and Alex Miller converted the extra-point kick.

The Blue Devils came back early in the second stanza, and tied the score at 7-all when QB Wade Jarrell hit Logan Allison with a 31-yard scoring strike.

Dylan Saunders’ PAT was good, and the game was knotted.

But not for long.

Warren regained the advantage 14-7 when junior running back Jared Isner ran 15 yards to paydirt and Miller again made the PAT. Isner, as it turned out, would be one of the stars of the game as he finished with 149 rushing yards on 24 carries and two scores.

“As Jared Isner continues to get healthier, he is having a big impact on our running game and team attitude,” Schob said. “He not only runs hard, but he plays so hard. He provides confidence to our offense running game and he started on defense again for the first time since coming back this year.”

Just before the half, Jarrell raced 38 yards to the end zone to tie the score 14-14.

Early in the third quarter, Miller, also a standout soccer player for the Warriors, split the uprights from 37 yards out to put Warren back in the lead, 17-14, for the third time in the contest.

But on the ensuing kickoff, Allison returned it 85 yards for a TD, and Gallia led for the first (and only) time in the contest, 21-17.

The Blue Devil advantage was short-lived as Warren bounced back and drove to the home team’s 1-yard line, where Isner plunged into the end zone, making it 24-21 Warriors at the end of the third quarter.

With 4:17 remaining in the final period, Warren got that all-important insurance score when Klintworth passed six yards to Cole Wigal for a touchdown and a 10-point Warrior triumph.

Defensively, Warren picked off Jarrell three times, twice in the fourth quarter, and limited the Blue Devil signal caller to nine completions for 182 yards. Jarrell was also his team’s leading ground gainer of 98 yards on 11 attempts.

Klintworth finished with 135 passing yards (10 for 16) and two aerial strikes. He also rushed for 75 yards on 14 carries.

Cole Wigal, a standout pole vaulter on the track team, was Warren’s leading receiver with four catches for 82 yards and one TD.

“Cole had a great game at receiver and made some big catches,” Schob said.

Overall, Warren had 458 total yards (299 rushing, 159 receiving).

“Our offensive and defensive lines played well and controlled the line of scrimmage,” Schob said. “Brandon Pahl and Gunnar Smith made some big plays containing Gallia’s running game and putting pressure on Wade Jarrell. Getting Tyler Welch back at offensive guard this week helped solidify everyone around him.”

The Warriors are scheduled to host Portsmouth in a key SEOAL game this Friday at 7:30 p.m. All of a sudden, there’s a logjam at the top of the league standings.