Helena remains undefeated behind strong defensive performance

Published 12:39 am Saturday, September 4, 2021

By JORDAN BROOKS | Special to the Reporter

HELENA — The Helena Huskies edged the Wetumpka High School Indians 20-10 in a defensive battle on Friday, Sept. 3 to start region play with a win and remain perfect on the season.

“If you’ve watched us the last four years since we’ve been here, you know that our kids don’t give up,” remarked Helena head coach Richie Busby. “A lot of it goes back to the blue collar type of guys that we’ve got. They’ve [Wetumpka] got a lot of good football players over there, but I thought our defense did a good job.  What worried me early on was that we played so many snaps on defense because we just couldn’t really get anything going offensively. We’ve had a lot of offensive lineman out with contract tracing and different things so that unit up front had to work together a lot.”

The Indians received the opening kickoff of the game and showed explosive potential on offense with a 39-yard pass in the initial moments of the matchup, but that took a turn in the wrong direction after a holding penalty disrupted the Indians’ momentum.  Helena’s defense returned with a sack followed by a botched Wetumpka punt.

Helena’s offense finally began to open up midway through the opening period leading to a big pass from Mac Turner to JC Sivley, placing the Huskies on Wetumpka’s 1-yard line.  Helena capped off the six-play, 69-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown run to give the Huskies a 6-0 lead.

Wetumpka continued to reveal its potential on offense, showing the Huskies a variety of different looks and keeping them off balance. The Indians completed a critical pass on third down to land in Helena territory.

That was followed by a 20-yard touchdown pass that was called back yet again due to a holding penalty.

Helena capitalized on the Indians’ penalty by snagging an interception on the very next play for a turning point in the half.

The Indians’ defense held strong after the interception, forcing Helena off the field with a three-and-out from scrimmage.

Wetumpka kept firing offensively, getting plenty of good opportunities. The Indians marched all the way down to Huskies’ 2-yard line and finished the drive with a 2-yard touchdown run by Stone Minnifield for a 7-6 halftime lead.

The Wetumpka defense made the first play of the second half with an interception, which quickly led to a field goal and a 10-6 advantage.  came to play in the second half, coming up with an interception in the third play of the period.  The Indians kicked in a field goal to give them the lead at 10-6 early in the third quarter.

Later in the second half, Wetumpka looked to have a good chance to put a lot of pressure on Helena with a completed a 68-yard touchdown pass late in the third quarter, but in similar fashion as the first half, the play was called back due to a holding penalty and unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. That brought the Indians all the way back to the 7-yard line.

Helena capitalized on the shift in momentum with a quick 22-yard run from Jordan Washington on the ensuing drive. He then capped off the drive with an 11-yard touchdown run to make it 13-10 Helena with 15 seconds to play in the third quarter.

“We went in at halftime and made some adjustments to the run game, and capitalized on some stuff we saw they were giving us,” Busby said.

On the next drive, Wetumpka began to dissect the Helena defense on the ground with a variety of different looks, but could not score once they reached the Huskies’ territory.

The teams continued to trade possessions midway through the fourth quarter, but the Indians suffered a crucial fumble on first down midway through, giving Helena the ball on the 49-yard line with 6:25 left to play.

After getting the ball back one last time with a chance to take the lead, Wetumpka failed to convert on fourth-and-1, giving the ball back to the Huskies on the Indians’ 25-yard line with 3:28 left in the game.

The Huskies milked the clock after that, before Washington took the ball 14 yards to the end zone to cement the 20-10 win.

“Jordan is going to be one heck of a back in this state. He is just a sophomore and he’s just now learning how to run between the tackles,” Busby said. “You could tell late in the game, Jordan got another gear and he will be special if he keeps working. But no back can be successful without that offensive line doing what they normally do.”

Washington totaled 74 yards on 22 carries with three touchdowns, while Turner posted 73 yards passing and one interception. Sivley posted three catches for 44 yards.

Defensively, Helena was led by Peyton Woodall with 11.5 tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss, while Joseph Roberto totaled 11 tackles with 4.5 for loss and one sack.