Smooth Sailing on Senior Night - Yellow Jackets score game’s first five touchdowns, trigger running
For the first time since 2011, the Woodford County High School football team will finish a season with a winning record. Senior Amartae Rice added three more touchdowns to his season total as the Yellow Jackets defeated the North Oldham Mustangs 36-8 at Community Stadium Friday evening. WCHS improved to 6-4 on the season. The night began with the honoring of the WCHS football seniors. The 11 Yellow Jackets took turns busting through banners bearing their names and each player was greeted on the other side by the coaches and families responsible for molding them into the players and young men they have become. Woodford County wasted no time establishing its lead over North Oldham. The Mustangs, whose season ended with a 1-9 record, were simply outmatched by Woodford’s rushing attack. It took four plays for the Yellow Jackets to find the end zone and one of those plays was a touchdown called back due to a penalty. Rice and sophomore Jackson Geilear traded carries on the opening touchdown drive. Rice gained five yards, Geilear added four more, Rice added 22 even after the penalty was assessed, and Geilear went another 22 to put the Jackets ahead 6-0. The extra point by senior George Madbak pushed the lead to seven less than two minutes into the game. Madbak has not seen the field this season in the backup kicker and punter role behind Joey Whitehead and Sawyer Ford, but he made the most of his opportunity on Senior Night. The Mustangs were pass-first Friday night, but the approach didn’t serve them well. After a few completions early in the drive, NOHS quarterback Blake McAfee threw three straight incompletions to force a punt. Two of those passes were ones that Woodford had ample opportunity to intercept. The second offensive drive of the evening for the Jackets also took just four plays. Rice picked up 27 yards on the first play and senior Brasley “Ziggy” Gill added another 16 with a catch-and-run to get Woodford into plus-territory. Once again, the third play was impeded by a penalty. On the fourth play, Rice took the handoff 43 yards for the score and caused two Mustangs to collide and knock themselves to the ground while Rice high stepped away. The extra point was good again and the Jackets led 14-0 with 5:30 to play in the first quarter. McAfee struggled to find his receivers again on the next drive. The Mustangs punted, and six plays later Rice found the end zone again on a 16-yard run for his 18th touchdown of the season. To position themselves for a running clock, Woodford County faked the extra point and the holder, backup QB Cody Dunn, completed a simple pass to Geilear to extend the lead to 22-0. The team’s traded sloppy drives for most of the second quarter and neither team produced points. Finally, on the first half’s final drive, WCHS executed a well-managed 14-play drive over the final 3:45 to reach paydirt again. The sequence was capped off with a four-yard touchdown pass from Bryce Patterson to JD Alexander on third-and-goal. Freshman Ford knocked the kick through to give Woodford a 29-0 cushion at halftime. In third quarter, Rice broke four tackles on his way to a 33-yard rush and scored from six yards out to set up a 36-0 WCHS advantage that put the running clock protocol into effect with 16 minutes remaining in the game. During the drive Rice cleared the 200-yard mark in a game for the third time this season. He has rushed for at least 100 yards in every game he’s played this season except for the season-opening loss to Lincoln County and an injury-shortened appearance against Great Crossing. The Yellow Jackets’ younger players finished most of the game as WCHS Coach Dennis Johnson opted to keep his starters as healthy as possible for the playoffs. The younger players did allow one Mustang score in the game’s final two minutes, but otherwise held up well. This Friday, the Jackets travel to Berea to face Madison Southern for the second time this season. It will have been four weeks since the Eagles crushed Woodford 40-7 in what many Jackets consider the team’s worst performance of 2019. Woodford County enters as the No. 3 seed in a five-team district after the program’s best regular season since 2011. That season, WCHS went 6-4 as well but failed to make the playoffs in a tough district that featured a 10-0 Franklin County team and an 8-2 Anderson County squad. Including Montgomery County, three of the district’s six teams made it to the final 16 of the KHSAA playoffs. This season’s district doesn’t look quite as strong as the one in 2011, but East Jessamine has been one of 5A’s better teams and Madison Southern is — as the Jackets found out in October — capable of putting up points. For the Yellow Jackets to make it out of Class 5A’s 6th District and make a run in the KHSAA Commonwealth Gridiron Bowl tournament, the defense will need a much better performance in the second go around with the Eagles. A win against MSHS Friday night would be a major accomplishment for Johnson and the Yellow Jackets. Woodford County has not won a playoff game since a 43-22 win over Lafayette in 2006.