White leads Fort Hill to 17-7 win over Northern in season opener

Sep 4, 2021
Kyle Bennett

CUMBERLAND — It was a tale of two halves on Friday night for the Fort Hill Sentinels. The first half was enough, however, as the Sentinels defeated Northern, 17-7, in the season opener at Greenway Avenue Stadium.

Blake White led the charge with 149 yards on 18 carries and Breven Stubbs added nine rushes for 88 yards as Fort Hill piled up 371 yards of offense. Quarterback Bryce Schadt was 4 of 8 through the air for 44 yards — Tavin Willis caught all four passes — and an interception while adding 60 yards rushing to eclipse 100 yards total.

“We got off to a pretty good start, then it tailed off really the entire second half,” said Fort Hill head coach Zack Alkire. “But they were able to keep plugging away and get the stops we needed.”

After compiling 279 yards in the opening half, the holes in the line and the running room off the seam never seemed to be there for the Sentinels in the second half, amassing 92 yards of offense over the final 24 minutes.

“We were able to watch a little film at halftime,” Alkire said. “We thought the holes were open at halftime, so I’m not quite sure what happened in the second half, if those holes were no longer there. We thought they were doing some pretty good things in the first half. We just need to keep watching film and see what we can do to get better.”

After Northern won the toss and elected to receive, it took Fort Hill a minute and 55 seconds to get the ball back after forcing a three-and-out.

“Offensively, we’ve got to get better,” said Northern head coach Phil Carr, whose team had 141 yards of offense. “It was harder to throw because they locked us down. They’ve got the quick kids and they play right up in our face. You really couldn’t just drop back and throw it because we didn’t have time.

“But the defensive line played really well, especially the second half. Not too many local teams can say they shut Fort Hill down in the second half. I’m proud of my kids. That was kind of the goal there late in the fourth quarter.”

Schadt hit Willis in behind the linebackers for a 27-yard pickup on second down, then Schadt took it himself for 18 yards two plays later to get inside the Northern 15.

A delay of game penalty set the Sentinels back five yards, and they couldn’t recover, settling for a 27-yard field goal by Jacob Tichnell at 4:36.

Instead of someone on the offense running to the sideline after every play to relay the call to the huddle, Alkire was signaling the plays in. Although Fort Hill had to burn a pair of timeouts in the first quarter to avoid delay of game penalties, Alkire said he thinks the offense got better at it as the game went on.

“You have two scrimmages, but nothing compares to the real thing,” he said. “I thought the second half was better with getting the plays in. It’s something we need to keep working on.

“I kept on seeing Bryce kind of peering at me. We practice every day in the daytime, so it may be one of those things where he can’t see 100% what we’re doing. So we’ll have to see what we can’t tweak there to make it better.”

Northern got the ball moving on the ensuing possession, but White came up with an interception on third-and-18 at the Sentinels’ 31 after being forced out of bounds.

Four plays and two penalties later, Fort Hill was in the end zone after Stubbs rushed in from eight yards out, with Tichnell booting the point-after try with 16 seconds left in the first quarter for a 10-0 lead.

The touchdown was set up by a 40-yard run from White and a 32-yard gainer by Stubbs.

After going three-and-out, the Huskies got the ball right back when Ethan Sebold got the first of his two interceptions on Fort Hill’s first play from scrimmage.

The penalties continued to pile up for the Sentinels — they had nine for 90 yards to Northern’s two for 10 — as they started their fourth drive at their own six following illegal block in the back and unsportsmanlike conduct penalties.

Fort Hill continued to march down field, however, with a 14-yard run from White to get out of the shadow of their own goalposts and a 33-yard scamper from White to get across midfield to the Northern 36.

White then had an 18-yard run to get to the five, then he ran it in from there, going in untouched. Tichnell tacked on the PAT for a 17-0 advantage with 3:18 to go before halftime.

“He ran the ball really well for us,” Alkire said of White. “He was probably our best runner tonight.”

With a 17-0 deficit and only two first downs up to that point, the Huskies had to get something going before the break.

Northern converted on a fourth-and-1 with a two-yard run from Kyle Broadwater. One play later, Jamison Warnick broke free on a 51-yarder to get inside the Fort Hill 10 with 59 seconds left in the half.

“We didn’t work a lot of Wildcat early,” said Carr. “But after we scouted Fort Hill, we thought that was maybe our best chance. We can’t line up and just go with our regular offense and go toe-to-toe. We’re going to have to spread it out and let Jamison ... a lot of times he picked the hole he wanted. We’d call the play, but a lot of times he might end up going clear to the other side because he saw something.”

The momentum swung completely back in favor of the Sentinels, as Anthony Palmisano picked off a pass in the end zone on the next play without a receiver in sight.

“You think about it, that was an obvious holding call in the end zone there to end the first half,” Carr added. “We might score there and it might be 17-14 (later in the game). ... That was a blatant hold in the end zone. I’m sure those guys were like, ‘We got away with one.’ ... I told our kids it’s over — we can only control what we can control. Other than that, I thought it was a pretty good officiated game.”

It wasn’t called, however, and the Sentinels took a 17-0 lead into the break.

Northern got the ball — and momentum — back less than five minutes after halftime, as Sebold got his second interception after stealing the ball out of White’s hands.

The Huskies got another fourth-down conversion on the ensuing drive, with Warnick finding Austin Ravenscroft on a 14-yard pass out of the Wildcat, and Warnick then ran it in from a yard out to get Northern on the board at 5:10. Cole Moore booted the PAT.

“Sebold had a nice game with the two interceptions,” Carr added. “Jamison, he’s beat to pieces, but that’s what he prepared himself for. He worked hard all through the winter and summer lifting.

“But we’ve got to get better offensively. I thought we were a little slow for some reason. Teams our size, you need to be quick, and I thought we were slow. And give Fort Hill credit — their linemen were quick, they were just beating us off the ball in the first half. It got a little more even in the second half.”

Schadt did well to facilitate the Fort Hill offense, sending their ensuing drive into the fourth quarter and gaining 12 yards on a QB keeper on fourth-and-4.

“We could tell they were keying on our backs and our guards,” Alkire said. “The play he kept on running, literally everyone went left and he went right. We said to him all preseason long, ‘The better fakes you have, the more you sell your fakes, the more open it’s going to be.’”

The teams traded punts in the fourth quarter, and Willis came up with the plays to ice the game and send Fort Hill to 1-0 on the season — he picked off a pass at the Northern 42 and then got a 9-yard gain on third-and-4 to allow the Sentinels to kneel out the clock.

Fort Hill hosts Class 4A foe Old Mill on Friday, 7 p.m., at Greenway. Northern travels to Albert Gallatin on the same evening.




Fort Hill fullback Blake White (11) crosses midfield during the first half of the Sentinels’ 17-7 season-opening victory over the Northern Huskies Friday evening at Greenway Avenue Stadium. Northern’s Luke Ross (10) closes in from the side.
PHOTO Steve Bittner/Times-News