Before last night’s season-opener between Tamarac and host Stillwater, I had the chance to talk with a couple of highly respected “football people”, and their feeling was one of cautious optimism regarding the Warriors. If things broke right it could be a big year for Stillwater football.
Walking off the field three hours later it was clear that “Warrior Nation” has plenty to be excited about.
Junior running back Dan Morris with four touchdown runs, senior back Ezra Echeandia with a TD catch and run, and junior signal-caller Sean Kane with a pair of touchdown passes laid down those stats in one just one half of football as the Warriors ran over Tamarac 48-29 on a beautiful night in early September.
At the start it looked like it might be the visitor’s night when they recovered the opening kickoff at the Stillwater 20, but three plays later the Bengals were forced to punt from midfield. Bengal punter Matt Fox hit a near perfect punt resulting in Stillwater starting their opening series from their own 3-yard line.
On the first play from scrimmage Morris took the handoff, broke it to the left sideline, and went the distance and with the point after from Max Lautenberg Stillwater led 7-0.
With 3:02 left in the quarter again Morris rang the bell, this time from 61 yards out increasing the Warrior advantage to 14-0.
In the second period the Warriors continued the show.
While defensively stifling every Tamarac possession, the offense put points on the board every time they got their hands on the football.
Echeandia scored from six yards out on the first play of the quarter, and at the 10:54 mark took a short pass from Kane and took it to the house from sixty yards out with a highlight reel run including a spin move, stiff arm, and a high step at the ten to elude the last Tamarac defender.
Two minutes later Kane went top-side finding Lautenberg for a 48 yard scoring strike, extending the lead to 34-0.
A pair of scoring runs by Morris, the first a 48 yard scamper, closed the first half assault with Stillwater on top 48-0.a
In the second half, with Stillwater head coach Ian Godfrey substituting liberally, Tamarac showed some life.
Taking a page out of Stillwater’s book the Bengals scored on nearly every possession in quarters three and four.
Joe Ballato got things started powering in from two yards out at the 7:49 mark of the third capping a nice sustained drive.
Fritz Scheffler ran for a pair of fourth quarter scores, the second coming with 4:14 remaining from four yards out.
The final points of the night came with :11 left when quarterback Fox found Ballato for a 7-yard touchdown pass and with the two point conversion Tamarac finished their 29 point half.
Both teams can take away positives from this one. Give Tamarac credit as they continued to play despite being down by seven touchdowns at the half. They put together some nice drives and point points on the board despite the game having long been decided.
As for Stillwater their deep and talented squad showed out in a dominant first half performance, while after intermission the Warrior reserves gained valuable game experience.
While it’s just week one with a long ways to go, there’s good reason to think it could be a special season in Stillwater.