Wildcats coach Heath Harmon is eager to see what his charges might be able to do with it now from the beginning.
The Wildcats won their first season opener in three years, beating an Ohatchee team they took down in the final game of the 2011 season, 28-7 at Robertson Field Thursday night.
Counting the run they put together after an 0-7 start last season, they are working on a four-game winning streak.
“Being able to have a good start is big,” Harmon said. “This year was almost like starting over because even though we finished strong last year, we didn’t have near as many players as is in (the locker room) right now. So we had a lot of new players and we went to spring late.”
The Wildcats were dominant early in their opener. They converted two Ohatchee turnovers into touchdowns and opened a 21-0 halftime lead. They rushed for 206 yards behind a massive offensive line in the half and held the Indians to only four yards rushing.
Mitchell Jones capped two 80-yard drives with touchdown runs of 23 and 4 yards, and Johnny Bynum capped a short possession with a 1-yard touchdown run.
“We had that one drive going and … turned the ball over and we never recovered from that, really, until the second half,” said Ohatchee coach Nathan Wehunt, making his coaching debut with the Indians. “It hurt us right there.”
Fortunes were different in the second half. The Indians adjusted to what Wehunt explained as doing “what we were supposed to be doing originally” and played their host even on the scoreboard. They held the Wildcats to fewer than 25 net yards in the third quarter.
“We hadn’t been in a lot of situations where we come out of halftime and we’re up 21,” Harmon said. “I could see it on their faces. We only have eight seniors on this team so we’re still a young team, so they don’t know how to react and I thought in third quarter we were just trying to survive.”
It was easy to determine the most dominant players in the game.
Bynum rushed for 161 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries. Sophomore Roderick Young was a brute on defense. He leveled the hit on Ohatchee quarterback Riley Allen that produced an interception and in one three-snap exchange deep in Ohatchee territory in the fourth quarter he had two sacks and stop.
“Roderick Young played really good for us,” Harmon said. “When he’s on offense he’s going to block you and when he’s on defense he’s going to be hard to block. He’s one of those players who can be as good as he wants to be. He has to learn how to play hard every play -- not take plays off -- and he’s got to find a way to motivate himself. Once he figures how to flip the switch on his own, he’s going to be hard to beat.”
Not to be overlooked was the play of Allen. The senior showed a lot of toughness. He rushed for 53 yards on 14 carries, completed 12 of 23 passes for 125 yards and scored the Indians’ only touchdown on a 20-yard run on the first play of the fourth quarter.
“He’s our leader,” Wehunt said. “He’s the guy that everybody looks to when the chips are down and he did a good job. It’s our first regular game and we’re going to back to the drawing board Sunday and we’ll get it all corrected.”