Wildcats beat county rival Ohatchee
by Joe Medley
jmedley@annistonstar.com
Oct 29, 2011 | 3383 views |  0 comments | 26 26 recommendations | email to a friend | print
WHITE PLAINS — White Plains coach Heath Harmon came into this season running near empty on optimism, but his young Wildcats refilled his tank with a big finish.

Quarterback Dalemetrius Reddick had198 total yards and scored two touchdowns, and White Plains downed Calhoun County rival Ohatchee 30-19 on Friday.

The Wildcats (3-7) sent off five seniors with three consecutive victories to end the season and brought the pep back into their fourth-year coach’s step.

“I’m just real excited for the seniors,” Harmon said. “They just weren’t going to quit. They were going to stick with us. Just real proud for them to win three in a row.

“I think that’s a big deal. We haven’t had a group that’s won three in a row.”

On the other end of emotions was Ohatchee, which won three of its first four games but finished an injury-riddled season 3-7.

“I feel like we could have easily been 5-5,” said Jason Howard, in his second year as his alma mater’s head coach. “With a break here and there, we could have been 6-4.”

The emotions of a game between county rivals hoping to end the season well seemed to bite Ohatchee most. The Indians finished with 115 yards on 10 penalties, and senior Brady Kelley was ejected in the fourth quarter.

Howard also held senior Justin Areno out for most of the second quarter, the result of a shoving match that followed an Ohatchee kickoff.

“They had a clipping penalty, and 21 (Areno) lost his cool a little bit at it,” Howard said. “It’s just one of those things. It’s a discipline thing, to prove a point.

“The ejection I really don’t understand, just to be honest. They said that it was a flagrant block in the back. Go figure. If he would of threw a punch or did something like that, but they said, ‘Coach, kid was standing there, and he came flying in and hit him in the back.’”

Emotions also bit White Plains, which had 95 yards on eight penalties, but the Wildcats had no ejections.

“I thought our guys overall handled themselves pretty well in some situations that happened,” Harmon said. “We preach to our guys all the time there’s a certain way we want to play the game.

“It was an emotional game, but for the most part I thought we handled it pretty well.”

In the end, it came down to Ohatchee’s big plays and White Plains’ answers.

Areno broke a 55-yard touchdown run on the game’s first possession to put Ohatchee up 6-0, but White Plains answered three drives later. Following an 8-yard Ohatchee punt, the Wildcats covered 27 yards in seven plays, with Mitchell Jones scoring from two yards out.

David Gomez added the extra-point kick to make it 7-6 at 11:10 of the second quarter.

Ohatchee’s Tristan Allen burst for a 67-yard touchdown run on the next play from scrimmage, and Kelley’s kick made it 13-7, but the shoving match and resulting penalties on the ensuing kickoff spotted White Plains on Ohatchee 42-yard line.

Jalen Hill made good with a 30-yard touchdown run, and Gomez’s kick made it 14-13 at 8:38 of the second quarter.

White Plains again used good field position to break a long scoreless drought. Aided by an Ohatchee personal foul, the Wildcats went 36 yards in seven plays, and Reddick finished it off with a 1-yard score.

Gomez missed the point-after kick but made it up for it with a 34-yard field goal to put White Plains up 23-13 with 8:50 left in the fourth.

But just when the Wildcats seemed in control, Ohatchee struck with another big play. Quarterback Riley Allen lofted a long lead pass down the visiting sideline to Johnathan Poole, who caught it in stride and finished off the 80-yard play to bring the Indians back within 23-19 with 5:15 to play.

“Riley is a competitor,” Howard said. “There ain’t nobody around who hates to lose more than that kid.”

But Reddick answered for White Plains, leading a 62-yard march. He kept on five of the nine plays, including a 4-yard touchdown run to put the Wildcats up 30-19 with 1:30 to play.

“We executed and did everything we had to do to go ahead and get this game,” said Reddick, who rushed for 107 yards and completed six of nine passes for 91 more. “We knew we needed it.

“We wanted to send the seniors out (well). We wanted to make sure they could actually go around the halls being able to say we finished 3-0.”

White Plains also got 118 yards on 15 rushes from Hill.

Tristan Allen led all Ohatchee rushers with 76 yards on eight runs, and Areno finished with 60 yards. Riley Allen went 4-for-13 passing for 102 yards.

“For the boys to come through the adversity they came through this season with all the injuries and everything that’s happened to us, I’m proud of them,” Howard said. “We have another small graduating class. We played four seniors tonight.

“Starting next year, we’ll start to have our numbers up to compete to where they should be.”

Joe Medley is The Star’s sports columnist. He can be reached at 256-235-3576 or jmedley@annistonstar.com. Follow on Twitter @jmedley_star.

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