photos by award winning photographer Michael Tauriello
by Alec Parker – special for the Lion’s Pride
“We have been working the past eight years with the mindset of every player giving 100% on every play in practice or games – the players in our program have really bought into that,” said Coach Joe Polce.
That is exactly what Walkersville football is all about, and they showed it once again tonight winning their 25th straight game in a row against the tough Oakdale Bears, 31-16.
Walkersville was 10-0 coming into the game, and Oakdale was 9-1, with their only loss coming against Walkersville. The last game was 19-13, and a nail biter that came to the very end. “I think our experience over the past three years has helped us stay calm in tight games – our players truly believe the bigger the game and the brighter the lights the better we play,” said Polce.
Indeed, Walkersville came out to play, and with a quick shut down by the defense forcing an Oakdale punt. This gave the momentum to Walkersville, and they quick advantage by marching down the field,and Noah Sadler connects on a 28 yard field goal. With Walkersville quickly scoring on the board the defense was more motivated to hold down the fort, and stop this pass attack of Oakdale. Walkersville did again stop Oakdale, and with this Jacob Wetzel opened up with a big play catching a 9 yard touchdown from quarterback Billy Gant
“I know that our team is confident and we know what it takes to beat them, we just have to play to the best of our ability,” said senior Billy Gant. This is exactly what Gant did. After a huge 49 yard run by Wetzel, Gant punched in a one yard touchdown, putting Walkersville up 17-0. Oakdale did score towards the end of the half making the score 17-7 at halftime.
“I spend a lot of time watching film from previous games to see what changes I can make in my performance as well as focusing on recovering physically. Stretching and resting my body when I have time off is key to performing well and staying healthy during the season,” said senior Christian Policelli.
After the half Walkersville started with ball, and struggled to push the ball down the field like in the first half, and Oakdale started to complete some passes that lead them down the field to score a field goal tightening the game 17-10. However right after the field goal on the kickoff Wetzel said enough is enough, and took the ball in his own hands, and returned the ball 90 yards for a touchdown. Once again Walkersville was up two scores.
In the fourth quarter Walkersville’s defense just kept playing good all around, forcing the quarterback to scramble, and playing great down field coverage. Walkersville towards the middle of the fourth quarter got another big play from who else Mr. Wetzel has he gets the hat trick with a 54 yard rushing touchdown. Walkersville takes a 31-10 lead, and doesn’t look back as they win the game 31-16 in a huge win over the three seeded team in 2A.
At the end of the game Wetzel had around 300 all-purpose yards, and three total touchdowns. What an incredible game from him, and the whole entire team putting an outstanding effort as they march to the second round. “We are pretty composed. We fixed some things we didn’t do well the first time. We are very excited [To move on]. Everyone needs to do their job on every play. If that happens we will be fine,” said Zack Mathis.
Walkersville has now put their best foot forward, but next week it might take more than that has they move on to play the undefeated number one seed in 2A Damascus at Damascus. Congrats to Damascus on beating Liberty 35-0. This will be a huge game, with two state champions battling for the regional crown.