Wildcats finish regular season strong
BELPRE — Braden Bellville ran for 261 yards and four touchdowns while becoming Wateford’s all-time single season rushing leader to lead the Wildcats to a dominating 44-3 win over the Belpre Golden Eagles at Ralph Holder Stadium Friday night.
Bellville came into the game needing 123 yards to eclipse the mark (1,617) set in 2001 by Dan Dobereiner and did so in the first half when he ran for 125 yards and scored two of his four touchdowns.
“Everybody from the receivers to the fullbacks to the offensive line to the coaches have done a great job,” said Bellville, who had touchdown runs of 1, 4, 28 and 73 yards. “I’ve got to give credit to everyone because this was a total team effort.”
Waterford scored quickly as Noah Huffman’s 60-yard kickoff return gave them great field position at the Belpre 18- yard line and seven plays later Bellville fought his way into the end zone from four yards out.
After Belpre failed to cover the ensuing kickoff, Waterford took just four plays to increase their lead to 16 when Bellville plunged in from a yard out and quarterback Peyten Stephens completed the two-point conversion.
Belpre got on the board in the second quarter on a 29-yard field goal by Bailey Sprague.
Waterford answered just before the end of the half on a 2-yard touchdown run by lineman-turned -fullback Teddy Smith.
The Golden Eagles went three-and-out on their first possession of the second half while Waterford scored on each of their first three to set the running clock in motion before the end of the third quarter.
Stephens connected with Huffman on a 37-yard touchdown pass to open the barrage before Bellville capped his special night with a 73-yard sprint and a 28-yarder to close out the scoring.
The Wildcat defense allowed just 205 total yards in the game as they limited their opponent to less than 10 points for the sixth straight game and the seventh time in the 2017 campaign.
“Our coaches have done a great job putting our kids in the right spots and our kids have been executing perfectly,” said Waterford second -year head coach Eric McCutcheon. “I’m proud of everyone.”
Bellville carried the ball 23 times for 261 yards while also catching a pair of passes for 12 yards, while Smith totaled 31 yards on six touches.
McCutcheon had high praise for his record-setting running back who is likely to win All-State honors this season as did Dobereiner back in 2001.
“Braden plays offense and defense for us, he plays on special teams, he kicks for us he does everything exceptionally well,” said McCutcehon of Bellville, who added another 138 yards after eclipsing the mark. “I’m just extremely proud of him and he deserves it because he has worked really hard.”
Stephens completed 4-of -7 pass attempts for 71 yards and the touchdown while also tallying 25 rushing yards.
Belpre sophomore quarterback Brandon Simoniette completed 11-of-20 passes in the game for 104 yards while Logan Adams led the Eagles in rushing with 31 yards on two carries.
The Golden Eagles season comes to a close with a 4-6 mark while the 9-1 Wildcats will host a playoff game for the second straight season next week against an opponent to be determined.
“We’ve been there once and we know it’s a whole different ball game,” said McCutcheon, who finished his second season with nine wins just as his team did a season ago. “The atmosphere is totally different, the stakes are a lot higher so we are excited and can’t wait to play next week in front of our home crowd.”
Bellville played a big role in last year’s playoff run that saw the Wildcats win a pair of games and hopes his team can advance even farther this season.
“It’s exciting. We made history last year and we want to make history again this year,” said Bellville. “I’m proud of this whole team and how we have came together and prevailed over everything that has came our way.”