Big plays made the difference last week in Wellington's win over Augusta. This week the team hosts Wichita Collegiate, which coach Tyler Ryan called Monday "the best 1-2 team in the state."
Ryan said his team has made big plays at good times so far, which has made a difference, but he wants the team to continue getting better and not always rely on the big play.
"We need to get better," he said Monday. "The big play isn't always going to be there."
Ryan said Collegiate has a very good quarterback and they like to throw a lot. He said they throw two-thirds of the time, which is a lot at the high school level.
Wellington has its own solid passing game with the combination of Trevor Nance to Colin Reichenberger. Connor Phelps has also made some big catches so far this year.
Ryan believes his team is "headed in the right direction," but he cautioned them that they need to keep improving as the season develops.
"I was a little disappointed in tackling last week. We have to do a better job there," he said.
Wellington seemed to turn the tide of Friday night's game at Augusta with a long pick-six touchdown to stop an Oriole drive early in the fourth quarter.
The Crusaders took a 12-3 lead on the play, but Augusta battled back with a long drive capped by a 16-yard touchdown pass from Tristan Finch to Logan Weakley to pull within two at 12-10.
Facing a crucial third-and-8 on the ensuing series, though, Wellington quarterback Trevor Nance connected with Colin Reichenberger for a 62-yard touchdown pass on a well-designed play to ice the game with 5:16 left as the Crusaders went on to win 19-10.
"Just had a breakdown in coverage. Our safety bit on the run," coach Roger Robben said. "We talked about it all week and that was the thing we worked on all week. They were going to keep running the ball, keep running the ball, and then at some point they were going to do play action and try to throw it over the top. And they hit it and beat us."
Augusta drops to 1-2 and will travel to play Clearwater next Friday night.
Unlike last year's contest, when Augusta made the big plays that made the difference in the Orioles' win a season ago, the Crusaders came up with the game-changing plays. On third down while behind only a field goal, Finch had a pass get away from him as Nance returned the interception 100 yards.
Nance is a fine quarterback and a good defensive back, but is not known for his speed, so it was a bit of surprise to see him make that big of a play.
Page 2 of 2 - The Orioles finished with eight penalties for 57 yards, including a hold that erased a 52-yard touchdown catch-and-run by Hurst.Austin Dunn finished with a game-high 75 rushing yards for the Crusaders. Finch led the team with 58 yards, including a couple big gains on spectacular scrambles to avoid tackles.
In the air, Finch completed 14 of 23 passes for 190 yards. Hurst had seven receptions for 41 yards. Anthony Castillo had three catches for 40 yards, Carter caught two for 55 and Trae Goken hauled in a 38-yard pass.