to Wi-Hi in Opener
Wicomico (Md.) 17, Woodbridge 7
Photos: The Woodbridge defense (top) punishes a Wi-Hi runner while Andre Cannon (below) turns the corner for nice yardage.
Inexperience can kill a high school football team in the early part of a season.
And so it was with Woodbridge in a 17-7 season-opening loss at Wicomico (Md.) in Salisbury on Friday, Sept. 7, 2001.
In dropping their opener for the first time in three years, the Blue Raiders' inexperience showed mostly on offense and special teams.
"There are three phases of football," said Raider head coach John Parker, whose club went 8-3 last year and qualified for the Division II state tournament. "You've got to play well offensively, defensively and special teams because all three phases count.
"We didn't play three phases of football for 48 minutes and when you don't and you're facing a formidable opponent like we were, you have your hands full. Now we're going to have to see what kind of resolve we have and see if our senior leadership can bring us back next week."
Offensively, after a 12-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Jamil Young to tight end James Faulkner put Woodbridge ahead 7-0 in the first quarter, the Raiders thwarted a number of their own drives with penalties and missed assignments.
And on special teams, the Raiders surrendered more than 200 punt return yards to Wi-Hi's Valdase Morris including a 65-yard return for a touchdown that all but sealed the Raiders' fate midway through the fourth quarter.
Morris returned another punt 80 yards earlier in the fourth quarter and even though the Raider defense held, the return left the Woodbridge offense deep in its own territory.
Wi-Hi also scored on a 35-yard run by Morris and an 18-yard field goal by Wes Burnhart in a 10-point second period.
"We knew Wi-Hi was going to have backs that would break tackles and make runs and they did," said Parker. "We had opportunities in the first half to really take Wi-Hi's heart. We were ahead and then we made some mental errors and they took advantage. We made a lot of mental errors and you have to play mistake-free football when you're playing a daggone good team."
The Raiders had a chance to take the lead back in the fourth quarter when they recovered a Wi-Hi fumble in the Woodbridge 8 with 9:45 remaining in the game.
Tailback Andre Cannon made some nice runs to bring the Raiders out to their own 49 yard line, but the drive stalled there when Young was stopped on third down and had to be carried off the field with cramps.
Young would return to the game but by then, the Raiders trailed 17-7 after Morris scored on his 65-yard punt return with 4:41 remaining in the game.
Woodbridge aims for its first victory at Milford on Friday, Sept. 14, in a 7:30 p.m. contest.
WOODBRIDGE (7-0 Woodbridge)
WICOMICO (10-7 Wicomico)
WICOMICO (17-7 Wicomico)
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