Smithfield: Sports

West eyes ultimate goal

West Johnston’s Josh Collier (14) sprints for the end zone to score ahead of East Wake’s Josh McLean (12).
West Johnston’s Josh Collier (14) sprints for the end zone to score ahead of East Wake’s Josh McLean (12).

Jimmy Williams says the season has been a really good one for a West Johnston football team unaccustomed to winning. And he said he thinks that in his second year as head coach, the Wildcats are going to get better and better as this season goes.

The Wildcats had a tough night on Friday when they lost their homecoming game 28-14 to a good East Wake team.

The result dropped the Wildcats to 5-3, 2-2 in Greater Neuse River 4A Conference action and probably meant they aren’t going to finish higher than third in the conference. Ironically, John Poulnot’s Warriors (6-2, 3-1) have clinched a winning regular season, the first one since six seasons ago when Williams was their head coach.

“We’ve still got an excellent season going,” Williams said. “Our goals have not changed. We can still finish in the top three in this league, and we can still make the playoffs.

“East Wake is pretty good. They held their own against Garner and we didn’t. We made a lot of mistakes tonight, but we were still able to hang with them. I’m happy for East Wake because they were always good to me, but I’m a Wildcat now.”

Williams said his team’s defense played well enough to win the game despite East Wake’s 1-2 punch of Damontay Rhem and Tripp Harrington.

Rhem rushed for 176 yards and two touchdowns while Harrington passed for 170 yards and two TDs -both to Tyler Burton - and ran for 50 more.

“Everybody on defense was doing his job tonight, especially in the second half,” West senior safety Brandon Baucom said. “In the first half we made some mistakes we shouldn’t have ever made. We got really good calls in the second half.

“I think we still have momentum for the last three games and we’re set up pretty good. If we make the playoffs for the first time in my career, it’s going to be really amazing.”

West finished with 181 yards total offense, with 118 including a pair of touchdown passes coming off the arm of sophomore quarterback Andre Wilson. Tyrone Jones chipped in an 80-yard kickoff return right after the Warriors scored their first touchdown in the closing minute of the first quarter.

Every point in the game was scored in the final 13 minutes of the first half.

“Coming in as a sophomore there’s been a lot of pressure, but I’m just trying to go in and do my job,” Wilson said. “I need a better pocket presence and to work on my vision down field and my arm strength.

“Being 5-3 right now is pretty good and our team’s morale is high. But our ultimate goal is the playoffs.”