Marietta, Warren both 1-0 headed into Friday’s rivalry game at Don Drumm
A shootout may be in the forecast when Marietta High hosts Warren High in a rivalry football game at 7 p.m. Friday night at Don Drumm Stadium.
Both Washington County schools are coming off impressive season opening wins with the Jason Schob-coached Tigers downing Morgan, 56-14, at DDS, and the Matt Kimes-led Warriors defeating Crooksville, 33-20, this past Friday evening in Vincent.
“Crooksville’s a good football team,” Kimes said. “They were a challenge, and our kids responded — and kept battling. The kids played well.”
Last year, MHS beat host WHS, 55-21.
“Warren’s definitely improved, and it’s going to be a battle,” Schob said. “So, we’re going to have to make sure to be ready for that one.”
With Schob at the helm, Marietta owns a 4-1 advantage against Warren. His team’s only setback to the Warriors was 19-8 back in 2014 in Vincent.
Since then, Marietta has mostly enjoyed the upper hand. Although, during Warren’s last winning season on the gridiron in 2009, the Tigers dropped a 35-19 decision in Vincent.
While Kimes is in his first-year as the Warren boss, he’s no stranger to “rivalry games.” As both a player and assistant coach at PHS and assistant coach at Parkersburg South, he’s been in his share of showdown tilts in Wood County, W.Va.
“In a rivalry game, like PHS-South and Marietta-Warren, everybody knows everybody, so it means more,” Kimes said. “There’s bragging rights on the line.”
Both Marietta and Warren have skills people galore and a ton of ways to reach paydirt.
Against Morgan, MHS actually trailed, 7-0, early in the contest, no thanks to a turnover (fumble). But the Raider lead was short-lived as Schob unleashed the Tigers, who responded with seven straight touchdowns and a 49-14 halftime advantage.
Senior southpaw-throwing Corbin Alkire quarterbacked Marietta, and he completed 5 of 10 passes for 101 yards and two touchdowns of 4 yards to Cole Alkire and 79 yards to Chase Taylor. The Tiger line, spearheaded by left guard Carson Urban, provided the protection.
Corbin Alkire also was a ballhawk on defense, intercepting one Raider pass.
Of course, the MHS signal caller had plenty of help on offense with Taylor rushing for 181 yards on six carries and one TD run of 66 yards.
Taylor also excelled on special teams, scoring a Marietta touchdown after a blocked punt. The Tigers finished with two blocked punts in the contest.
Tony Munoz and Kory Science also got in on the fun, scoring two touchdowns apiece.
Munoz had rushing TDs of 5 and 38 yards, while Science also reached paydirt from 5 yards out. Science also had a pick-6 on defense in the second quarter.
Wide receiver Cyrus Rhodes had only one reception for 11 yards, but is very capable of breaking one all the way to the house.
Tiger kicker Sean Fournier was perfect, converting 8 of 8 point after touchdown (PAT) boots. Fournier also kept Morgan bottled up in its own territory with several touchback kicks.
Defensively, the Tigers limited Morgan to 139 total yards, and picked off three Raider throws. Donavon Wheeler had the third one.
Marietta’s D figures to be tested by junior right-handed-throwing Warren QB Kurt Taylor.
Against Crooksville, Taylor completed 9 of 15 passes for 179 yards and two touchdowns of 59 yards to Brandon Simoniette and 23 yards to Evan Gandee. Taylor had one throw intercepted.
Gandee finished with four receptions for 83 yards, while Simoniette had three catches for 81. Tight end Josh Welch caught one throw for 8 yards.
Taylor got plenty of pass protection from linemen like Nate Warner, Wyatt Grayson, Hayden Murdock, Dennis Pettey and Welch.
Those big guys were also instrumental in opening up holes for running backs Brayden Gerber and John Shoup. Gerber rushed for 108 yards on 11 carries and two short-distance TDs while Shoup gained 33 yards on 7 touches.
Defensively, Warren was aggressive and led by Welch and Thomas Miller, who had 12 and seven tackles, respectively. Welch also had two QB sacks. JT Rice added six tackles.
On special teams, Simoniette excelled with four kickoff returns for 189 yards and one touchdown of 99 yards. Thing is, Simoniette may not get a chance at a return against Marietta if Fournier continues to boot the ball into the end zone. But if he does…look out.
Joel Chevalier, the Warrior punter, averaged 35.6 yards on five kicks.
With it being a rivalry game, it’s expected to be a very hard-hitting affair. The gridiron will be no place for the meek.
“Hopefully, we’ll be a hard team to prepare for,” Kimes said. “We’re looking forward to the game.”
More than likely, as in most football games, the Marietta-Warren showdown ultimately will be decided in the trenches. Who blocks and who tackles better will be huge factors in the outcome.
That being said, with two standout quarterbacks and so many good skills people on the field, look for the Don Drumm Stadium scoreboard to light up like a pinball machine.
Although, if it comes down to a field goal, Marietta might have a little edge in Fournier’s range.
Ron Johnston can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org