The Wolverines lost 28-0 to Johns Creek on Thursday before a television crowd at the Wolverine Den in the state’s first high school game of the season.
“Like I said earlier this week, it was about executing and not making mistakes,” Woodstock coach Brent Budde said. “(Johns Creek is) a good football team, and you have to play sound football to win. We made mental mistakes, physical mistakes — everywhere.”
The loss was Woodstock’s sixth in a row dating back to last season, a run that includes four shutouts.
While Johns Creek (1-0) was playing its first game as part of the state’s highest classification, after spending the last two years in Class AAAA, any jitters the Gladiators may have been feeling weren’t apparent early in the game. Johns Creek pushed the ball downfield on the ground with superior blocking, while also getting penetration through the Wolverines’ offensive line on defense.
Johns Creek outgained Woodstock 188-49 in the first half, with 158 of those yards coming on the ground. The Gladiators’ first touchdown came as a result of quarterback Skye Overton’s 50-yard scramble, which included several broken tackles before he cut toward the far sideline for the score. Then, with 9:56 left in the first half, Matt Azemar broke around the right end on a third-and-2 play and scored untouched from 42 yards.
To add additional insult, Overton scored twice more in the second half on a 52-yard run, and one from 3 yards late in the fourth quarter.
For the game, Johns Creek outrushed Woodstock 287-64, and, in all, the Wolverines (0-1) were outgained by the Gladiators 379-96.
Overton finished as the game’s leading rusher with 18 carries for 151 yards and a touchdown.
“We need to focus on fundamentals and consistency,” Budde said. “You block and you tackle. That’s what this game comes down to.”
Although Woodstock was down throughout the first half, it had an opportunity to change the game’s momentum following Max Keeton’s effort to block a 54-yard field goal attempt. Keeton returned the ball to the Johns Creek 30, but Woodstock’s offense gained just one first down on the ensuing possession and was held to a 36-yard field goal that fell short.
The Wolverines had another opportunity to change the game’s momentum when Keeton blocked his second field goal of the game in the third quarter. However, the Wolverines turned the ball back over to Johns Creek after failing to achieve a first down.
While quarterback Ben Motsinger took the field for the coin toss as one of Woodstock’s four captains, it was sophomore Justin Agner who took the start at quarterback Thursday. Agner, however, was replaced by Motsinger on Woodstock’s final possession of the third quarter.
When asked about why he started Agner over Motsinger, Budde said Agner received most of the reps in practice due to an injury sustained by Motsinger.
Neither Agner nor Motsinger were able to get much done with little time to throw the football or find holes to run through.
Agner was 2-for-6 for 20 yards passing and finished with minus-9 yards rushing on four carries. Motsinger was 1-for-5 passing for 12 yards and finished with minus-8 rushing yards on two carries.
Despite the opening setback, Woodstock still has time left to correct its mistakes before the all-important region schedule begins — something Budde stressed after the game.
“I look forward to seeing us improve,” he said. “This (loss) won’t stop us from going to the playoffs. This won’t stop us from working toward the state championship.”