Either the Wolverines would continue to step up their game, or they would suffer a letdown.
“You never stay the same,” Budde said earlier in the week.
Unfortunately for Woodstock, the result was a huge letdown Friday, falling to Wheeler 31-9 in a Region 5AAAAAA game at Corky Kell Stadium.
“It’s hard for young men like this to handle such and emotional roller coaster,” Budde said. “We came out and didn’t play our best.”
Woodstock (3-6, 3-3) scored on its first drive of the night, on a 35-yard field goal by Miguel Gomez, but it went down hill from there.
Wheeler (5-4, 2-4) scored on three of its next offensive possessions, and once on defense, to make the score 28-3 by the end of the first half.
Kyonte Maxwell was the first to reach the end zone for the Wildcats. The senior, who had just two carries, scored from 6 yards out, and the point-after by J.D. Barron made it 7-3.
On the next Wheeler possession, a 33-yard touchdown by called back because of a holding penalty, but that didn’t stop the Wildcats. Completions to Jacobi Green, Billy Polakowski and Devontae Jackson set up a 5-yard touchdown run by Green, which put Wheeler up 14-3.
Woodstock fumbled on its next possession, with Wheeler recovering the ball on the 13. On the first play of the short drive, Elijah Staley completed a 13-yard pass to Jackson for a touchdown.
Staley, who connected with five different receivers, finished the game 12-for-22 for 145 yards and a touchdown. He also had one carry for 23 yards.
Wheeler’s defense, which smothered the Woodstock offense throughout the game, got involved in the scoring when Jevan Sampler intercepted an Alex Motsinger passes and returned it 15 yards for the third Wildcat score in 3 minutes.
The Wildcats added a 32-yard field goal by Barron in the third quarter.
“We caught a couple breaks early in the game,” said Wheeler coach Mike Collins, a former Woodstock assistant. “Our defense held them out early — our entire defense, all 11 guys, swarming to the ball. Then our offense got us rolling.”
Woodstock would score with 5:33 left in the game on a 3-yard run by Sharrone Gates. The point-after attempted failed, however, making the final score 31-9.
Donavon Brand, who had six of his seven carries in the second half, led Woodstock with 48 yards. Motsinger was 5-for-12 for 142 yards and two interceptions.
The loss ended the Wolverines’ three-game winnings streak. Now, in order for them to make the state playoffs, they must beat Milton in next week’s regular-season finale.
Budde told his players that, for them, the playoffs begin next week.
“If we win, we may be in the playoffs,” he said. “If we don’t, the season is over. That is a playoff game. That is what it’s like for the teams that will be playing the week after that.”