Eagles end nine-year losing streak against region foe
The silver and red “Screaming” Eagle beamed like a shiny new penny at midfield of Eagle Stadium Thursday night, but if you were thinking you would see anything else different out of Westmoreland, you would have been mistaken.
The Eagles never varied from their old-school ways of grinding the ball out offensively and playing suffocating defense to defeat visiting Watertown 20-0 in the opening week of region play for both programs.
“The main thing is that everybody on our team believed we could win this game,” said Westmoreland quarterback and safety Kameron Eden. “We kind of simplified our game plan because of the short week…and the guys came out and executed.”
The importance of the win was not lost on Westmoreland head coach Chad Perry.
“Well, (the win is) hugely important. Year in and year out when we play Watertown in Week 3,” Perry said. “They’ve been the front runner in our region for quite some time, we made no bones about it. This week we told our kids this is the region championship. In two weeks when we play another region game it’ll be another region championship. We’re trying to do something that hasn’t been done here in a while, and that’s a region championship,”
Led by leading senior safety Eden and linebacker Dawson Borders, the Westmoreland defense prevented the Purple Tigers’ offense from gaining any momentum, mostly by winning the field position battle and keeping them pinned on their own side of the 50 for most of the night.
Late in the first quarter, Eden took off on a 32-yard run down to the Purple Tiger 2-yard line. From there, senior running back Bryce Kittrell finished off the drive.
“We did a tremendous job in our kicking game from last week to this week because we won the field position game,” Perry said, “because we made them drive the field and we end up with the ball in pretty good field position.”
Watertown quarterback KK West had the ball punched out of his grasp by linebacker Nick Gray, before Westmoreland junior defensive back Jacob Richardson recovered at the Purple Tiger 25-yard line with less than two minutes left in the half, but Westmoreland (2-1 overall, 1-0 Region 4-2A) was unable to capitalize before the half ended.
“We kind of just played our rules, we are a physical football team,” Eden said. “We’re swarming to the football. Every play, eleven guys to the football and it’s hard to run against a team like that.”
The second half was more of the same as Westmoreland put together a drive that ate up 7:44, punctuated by a 7-yard Colton Sizemore run. Eli Stafford’s 2-point conversion put the Eagles up 14-0 with 3:24 to go in the third.
“That’s how we’re built to do it and that’s how we practice,” Perry said of his offensive line. “Some people will call it ‘three yards and a cloud of dust,’ but our goal is to move the chains and eat the clock up and get it in the endzone. Those guys on the O-line are super unselfish … they’ve got a ton of pride.”
Westmoreland added a 10-yard touchdown run by Stafford on fourth-and-goal with 2:24 remaining.
The Eagles’ shutout of the Purple Tigers (1-2, 0-1) ended a nine-game winning streak Watertown held over Westmoreland.