WILMINGTON — After losing its three previous football playoff contests, Wilmington High School secured its first-ever victory in the post-season Friday night with a 56-14 victory over visiting Marietta.
Wilmington (3-3) advances to play No. 1 seed Columbus DeSales Friday in a Region 11 second round matchup.
Marietta ends its season at 2-5.
“It’s a great feeling and I am so happy for the kids,” said WHS head coach Scott Killen in his post-game remarks.
Wilmington previous three trips to the playoffs ended in losses – 17-10 to Kings in 2003, 29-22 in overtime to Miami Trace in 2005 and 44-21 to Turpin in 2009.
Wilmington engineered a scoring drive on its opening series, and went on to score the first 24 points on the night. Killen pointed to the quick start as being the key.
“We had that great spurt to get it going early and the kids were really focused,” Killen said.
Isaiah Rigling hooked up with quarterback Cameron McEvoy on a 43-yard pass play to put the ‘Cane on top on the opening drive, and Parker Henry booted the PAT through the uprights for a 7-0 lead.
Kendal France scored his second touchdown of the night in the next series, this time a three yard rushing TD and it was a 14-0 Hurricane advantage.
Marietta quarterback Reece Gerber was intercepted by Wilmington’s Josh Snell in the ensuing drive and Henry connected on a 24-yard field goal as Wilmington extended the lead to 17-0 at the end of the first quarter.
Thad Stuckey capped off another scoring drive for WHS early in the second quarter with an 18-yard touchdown and Henry PAT made it a 24-0 advantage.
Marietta came back with its first score of the night on a 32-yard run by Zach Bartlett and Dillon Meagle tacked on the PAT kick to cut the lead to 24-7.
Wilmington put together a long drive right before halftime, and Henry booted a 31-yard field goal at the 2:25 mark giving Wilmington a 27-7 halftime lead.
Marietta was unsuccessful in its opening drive of the second half and the Wilmington defense came up strong on a pass break up by Carter Huffman on fourth down. The Hurricane had excellent field position at the Marietta 26.
Josh Snell capped the drive with a touchdown at the 8:24 mark and Henry’s PAT kick made it 34-7.
Marietta came back on the ensuing kickoff with an electrifying 90-yard touchdown return by Kayden Durham and Meagle’s point after made it 34-14.
But those would be the final points the Tigers would score.
Killen told his team they had to deny the opposition in the second half, something they have not done very well throughout the season.
“It seems like the third quarter has been our Achilles heel all season. Not just last week (against Clinton-Massie) but many times we have stumbled in the third quarter. Our goal has been to keep getting better. We were making great strides that way and tonight’s effort was huge.”
Wilmington had three touchdowns in the third quarter, including a pair by Josh Snell, and a 34-yard reception by Huffman from McEvoy, as the ‘Cane extended the lead to 49-14.
The final score of the night came with just under 4:00 to go as Thayne McCoy scored on a six-yard run. Henry’s kick closed down the scoring.
Killen knows his team will have its hands full against DeSales in the next round.
“We’re just glad we get to move on. We will get to see what its like and we have to keep getting better. That’s our goal each week,” he said.
Oct 9, 2020
Wilmington 56 Marietta 14
W-Isaiah Rigling 43 yard pass from Cameron McEvoy (Parker Henry PAT) 10:55
W-Kendal France 3 yard run (Parker Henry PAT) 2:50
W-Parker Henry 24 yard field goal, 0:37
W-Thad Stuckey 18 yard run (Parker Henry PAT) 11:40
M-Zach Bartlett 32 yard run (Dillon Meagle PAT) 10:05
W-Parker Henry 31 yard field goal, 2:21
W-Josh Snell 3 yard run (Parker Henry PAT) 8:24
M-Kayden Durham 90 yard kickoff return (Dillon Meagle PAT) 8:12
W-Josh Snell touchdown run (Isaiah Rigling pass to Shane Griffith) 6:05
W-Carter Huffman 34 yard pass from Cameron McEvoy (Parker Henry PAT) 1:27
W-Thane McCoy 6 yard run (Parker Henry PAT) 3:59
Bill Liermann covers college and high school sports for the News Journal. Follow him on Twitter @lierjet.