Calera falls to No. 1 Wetumpka

Published 12:34 am Saturday, September 8, 2018

By CALEB TURRENTINE | For the Reporter

WETUMPKA – Wetumpka shook off a slow offensive start to put away Calera on Homecoming night at Hohenberg Field. The hosts used strong performances by running backs DeAngelo Jones and Terrance Thomas to come away with the win in the first region game of the season.

“Both of our running backs are great downhill guys,” Wetumpka head coach Tim Perry said. “They fight for those extra yards after contact. Very rarely do they go down on the first hit.”

The two backs combined for 143 rushing yards and three touchdowns for Wetumpka (3-0, 1-0 Class 6A Region 3). Jones finished with 97 yards on a team-high 15 carries. His 4-yard touchdown run at the end of the opening quarter was the first score of the game and gave the home team a 9-0 lead.

The senior added another short touchdown run at the end of the third quarter to put the hosts up 30-0. The play capped off a 13-play, 58-yard drive. Jones said those are the kind of drives that can help put a team away.

“It felt like we can’t be stopped,” Jones said. “If we can do that, we can beat anybody. We want to continue to run the ball down their throats and they can’t stop us.”

Thomas made his impact in a different aspect of the game in the first half. After a safety, he returned the Calera kick 60 yards to set Wetumpka up for its opening touchdown. In the second quarter, Thomas got his hand on a punt which set the hosts up deep inside their opponent’s territory again.

“Just getting down the field and doing what you have to do,” Thomas said. “After practice, I work on that speed burst so that when I’m not doing running back stuff, I can make plays.”

Before the end of the night, Thomas also made some noise in the rushing game. His 36-yard touchdown run put Wetumpka up 23-0 and set the tone for the second half of the game.

The Indians finished with 299 rushing yards, scoring four of their five touchdowns on the ground. Junior Joshua Allen added the final touchdown of the night for Wetumpka with a 7-yard run.

Quarterback Tyquan Rawls got in on the action with 66 rushing yards of his own but his passing ability was not needed. He finished with 57 yards through the air and connected with E.J. Rogers for his only touchdown pass of the night.

“Offensively, we were a little sluggish to start but we challenged them in the second half,” Perry said. “We were proud of the way they responded.”

Wetumpka had only 120 yards of offense in the first half but were helped out by great field position. Both of the team’s touchdowns before halftime came from drives that started within 30 yards of the end zone.

“It’s huge because those opportunities are pretty rare,” Perry said. “We want to capitalize on those. They can swing the momentum in games.”

Calera (0-3, 0-1) could not find much success offensively, especially after senior quarterback Cornelious Brown went out with what appeared to be a head injury. The Eagles threw for just 31 yards on 15 pass attempts. Starting running back Ashton Shoddie ran for 26 yards on 10 carries.

“I thought we played okay but we still have a long way to go to be able to compete with a team with that much depth,” Calera coach Andrew Zow said. “They fought hard in the second half but we just didn’t have enough firepower.”

The visitors got both of their touchdowns in the second half. Backup quarterback Edwin Karanja got the Eagles on the board first with an 8-yard run in the fourth quarter. Karanja finished with 52 rushing yards on eight carries. Freshman Christopher Cotton-Taylor capped off the game’s scoring with an 18-yard run with 1:52 to go in the game.

“I thought our defense did a great job,” Perry said. “We knew they would be throwing it around a little but our defense did a great job.”

Both teams will continue region play next week. Zow said he is looking forward to the response from his team as the Eagles will be traveling to Stanhope Elmore next Friday night.

Wetumpka will host Opelika next week in a showdown between two of the region’s favorites. The Indians have lost each of the last two meetings by a single point but look to grab a stronghold of the region early in the season.

“We’ve got another area game next week so we’ll celebrate this one tonight but then we’ll have our eyes set on next week for Opelika,” Jones said.