By Karl Younkman.
The Wellington Crusaders put aside a weather delay and then shoved aside the
Circle High Thunderbirds in a dominant 43-0 performance at Sellers Park Friday night.
The win improves the Crusader record to 4-1 and sends them into a huge matchup with
Andale next week.
Junior running back Austin Dunn was held to no gain on his first carry of the night
and then exploded for 198 yards and 4 touchdowns on 11 carries. For the evening
Wellington amassed 360 total offensive yards , mostly the work of three quarters as the
coaching staff took the team’s foot off the accelerator for the final period. Trevor Nance
passed for 89 yards on 3 of 8 passing while Connor Phelps completed his only pass for a
64 yard strike to Colin Reichenberger for a touchdown on the second play of the game.
Nance completed the 2-point conversion to Andrew Horn after a fake extra-point kick.
Circle, plagued by penalties most of the evening and several bad shotgun snaps went
three and out on it’s first possession and after two Dunn rushes, the second for 52 yards
and a score, the Crusaders were up 14-0 after the extra point failed. Then came the rain
and lightning at 8:20 of the first quarter.
Play was suspended for about an hour and a half and the players took advantage of
the facilities at the middle school to wait out the storm. “We got to cool down and relax
in the nice rooms that are provided to us in that event,” coach Tyler Ryan said. “After that long of a delay we were refreshed and ready to go.”
And go they did. After another fumbled snap and 3 and out by Circle, a 52 yard
Nance pass to Reichenberger put Wellington in the endzone at the 6:00 minute mark of
the first quarter. Reichenberger was good on the extra point this time making the score
After a fine kickoff return by Circle the fumbled shotgun snap struck again and the
was gained was lost and the Thunderbirds had to punt again. Wellington ran into a stall of their own for the rest of the quarter. Then at the 10:21 mark of the second period, Dunn
broke through the line again and sprinted to paydirt, covering 59 yards. Another fake kick and Nance again threw for the 2-point conversion. Wellington 29-0.
Another fine Circle return was nullified by a penalty and by this time the frustration
was evident on the visitor’s side. Several personal foul penalties began to mount up for
Page 2 of 2 - the Thunderbirds. And frustration turned to despair at the 8:00 mark of the quarter when Dunn sprinted 50 yards for his third score of the night. Another successful Reichenberger kick and the scored moved to 36-zero and that’s the way the half ended.
It was Homecoming for the Crusaders. And the festivities at halftime saw
five beautiful ladies and their escorts step onto the field to see who would be crowned
queen. Avery Lewellen, Carlie McComb, Halynn Page and Kelsey Whaley were indeed
all smiles as they witnessed Jaedyn Ledesma take the queen’s crown.
In the third quarter, the first squad made one last statement for the night and Austin
Dunn punctuated it with a 2-yard plunge, with the PAT providing the winning margin,
43-0. The subs started to enter the game freely at this point.
Apart from his extra-point kicking duties, Reichenberger handled the lion’s share of
the receiving duties. His three catches all looked as pretty as the Queen candidates and he was credited with 151 yards to go with his 2 TDs.
Coach Ryan was happy with the team’s effort and the 4-1 record thus far. “It’s
exciting for the kids,” said Ryan. The coach was pleased with his defense too. And why
not? The Crusaders held Circle to a total of 62 yards from scrimmage. “What they ran
against us is not what we were exactly prepared for and in that situation I think the kids
did alright,” said Ryan.
As for his junior running back, Ryan said this of Dunn, “He’s
the kind of kid that if we get him to trust his line and keep running at the hole he will
do some great things before he is through.” Austin himself, knows that trusting his
teammates to block is the important key. “The line blocked well tonight and everyone did their assignment,” Dunn said after ringing the victory bell. “The trust we have in each other is great.”
Trusting in each other’s teammates will be of the highest priority against Andale next Friday.