| Fort Hill
runs over Keyser 41-0
BY NOAH BECKER
shut down Tornado; Brown scores two TDs
The Sentinels averaged nearly eight yards per play and ran for just over seven yards per touch as they collected 398 yards in total offense. Five of their six touchdowns came via the run and three different players ran for a score.
“We like to take advantage of what other people give us,” said Fort Hill head coach Todd Appel. “Keyser played great defense tonight and the score is not indicative of how they play defense.
“We struggled at times to get first downs and we need to execute better on the offensive line,” he said.
The Sentinels didn’t struggle much in the opening half as they raced out to a 28-0 halftime cushion. They racked up 283 yards on offense behind 202 rushing yards. Fort Hill averaged 9.4 yards per play and averaged 8.1 yards per rush.
Defensively, Fort Hill limited Keyser to just five offensive yards in the opening half on 20 plays. The Sentinel defense forced four punts, stopped the Tornado on fourth down and intercepted a pass in the final minute of the first half.
In two games, the Sentinels have outscored their opponent 114-0.
“I was very pleased with us defensively,” said Appel. “We run to the football well and we are physical. We have a lot of kids that understand how we play defense.”
On the other side
of things, Fort Hill seemingly scored at will finding the end zone on
four of five drives over the first two quarters. They fumbled the ball
at midfield for their only blemish of the opening half.
Nathaniel Graves found Brayden Poling for a 35-yard touchdown pass to open scoring at 7:11 in the first quarter. Poling made a diving catch towards the back of the end zone for the TD. Raen Smith dragged a Keyser defender or two into the end zone for FH’s second touchdown of the first half, this time an 11-yard scoring run.
The second quarter scoring belonged to Brayden Brown as he scampered up the Keyser sideline for a 65-yard score early in the quarter for a 21-0 Fort Hill lead.
Brown’s second score capped the Sentinels’ longest drive of the contest as they marched 80-yards on 13 plays for a 28-0 lead. Brown pushed his way into the end zone for a two-yard score on fourth down with 39 seconds left in the frame.
“I think we played pretty good in the first half, but we made some mistakes that we can fix,” said Jayden Brown. “Coach also preaches about making the least amount of mistakes.”
In the second half, Fort Hill wasn’t quite as efficient, but it added two more touchdowns. The Sentinels capitalized on a Keyser interception as Smith rumbled in from 20 yards out for a 35-0 score.
Midway through the fourth, the Sentinels added their sixth and final touchdown. Logan Johnson darted through the Tornado defense for a 16-yard scoring run for the 41-0 final.
“I think the offensive line helped out tonight in terms of running the football,” added Brown. “The line stepped up and played well.”
Keyser finished with 31 yards in total offense and was led in rushing by Terrell Bush, who had 13 yards. Deavonta Johnson and Jacob Biser added nine and seven yards rushing respectively.
Fort Hill (2-0) will play Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania, in its home opener Friday at Greenway Avenue Stadium. Keyser (2-1) visits Weir High in Weirton, West Virginia, also on Friday.
Very likely a case of seeing enough
BY MIKE BURKE
You have to hand it to Keyser head coach Sean Biser. He had the problem correctly identified before his Golden Tornado even took the field Friday night against the Fort Hill Sentinels. And the problem is, Fort Hill’s defense is going to be a problem.
“They’re very athletic on defense,” Biser said of the Sentinels on Wednesday night. “That’s what popped into my mind right away. It’s a given that automatically they have (running back) Brayden Brown, and he has great speed. But not only is he a great back, Raen Smith runs the ball very well, as do many of their other backs.
“But defense is the thing about them that I see so far. They get off the ball so well, and (tackle) Luke Hamilton is one of the best defensive players I’ve seen in a long time. As good as their offense is, their defense stands out even more.”
By now you know Fort Hill won the game Friday night at Tornado Alley, 41-0. And it was a legitimate 41-0. Yet from all reports it seemed to have been an odd 41-0 as well. For as Fort Hill head coach Todd Appel told the Times-News’ Noah Becker after the game, “Keyser played great defense tonight and the score is not indicative of how they play defense.
“We struggled at times to get first downs and we need to execute better on the offensive line.”
The Keyser defense did in fact pressure Fort Hill quarterback Nathaniel Graves, and did make the Sentinels work when they had the ball. Certainly, Fort Hill broke big plays and chewed up first downs behind fullback Smith. That’s going to be who the Sentinels are this season. But it’s the manner in which the Fort Hill defense set the tone for the game and dominated it from the outset that was the story of the night.
To begin with, led by tackles Brayden Conley and Luke Hamilton, along with the likes of ends Noah Steckman and Keegan Miller, and nose guards Kaleb Harden and Braeden Smith, not to mention RaShaan Haines on the inside and Troy Banks at end, the Fort Hill defensive line is filled with guys who run 4.6 and 4.7-second 40s.
That’s fast, and that’s very athletic for defensive linemen. But these guys are very athletic for anybody, which makes things very disturbing for opposing offenses who cannot contain them or get away from them.
In the meantime, you’ve got linebackers Brayden Poling and Austin Martin behind them shooting gaps, pressuring quarterbacks and stuffing running backs, which becomes even more effective when Brayden Brown and Markel Spencer are playing man coverage on the corners one yard off the line. The cherry on top of it all then is Graves at safety playing center field and picking off two more passes on Friday night.
It was all there on Friday night for everyone to see, and to validate all that Sean Biser said he had already seen.
What was it the announcer in “A League of Their Own” said? “Take me home Momma and put me to bed. I have seen enough to know I have seen too much.”
For instance, according to Fort Hill’s official statistics, the Sentinel defense limited Keyser to 17 yards of offense for the game. In the first half, the Golden Tornado ran 20 offensive plays (four passing) for one net yard.
For the game, the Fort Hill defense produced 12 plays for negative yardage and three for no gain, and held Keyser to 17 rushing yards on 31 carries.
Of course, into each life some rain must fall, and the Sentinels, playing just their second game of the season, were far from perfect on Friday, being penalized 16 times for 133 yards. So three guesses there as to what kinds of things Coach Appel will be having his players do this week in practice ...
Still, overall, it was a very impressive performance against a Keyser team, that while very young, is well-schooled, very athletic and very tough in its own right. You can be assured the Golden Tornado will provide a very nice return on state playoff bonus points for the Sentinels this year, because they’re just getting started.
As Biser also said on Wednesday, “You always come out of (the Fort Hill) game knowing where you stand — good, bad or indifferent. Like the West Virginia-Maryland game, it’s a measuring stick. This is the same thing. They are the premier team in the area, and if you play well against them you know you will have some success the rest of the way.”
It’s not clear if Biser would say his Tornado played well on Friday night. More likely he might say that what played out at Tornado Alley had more to do with the Fort Hill Sentinels, who, aside from the penalties, sent out a pretty fair calling card of their own in just getting started themselves.