Jake Strickland got West Johnston headed in the right direction by returning the opening kickoff 79 yards for a touchdown.
And the opener at county rival Smithfield-Selma was never close.
Tony Mack had 101 rushing yards and two touchdowns and Andre Wilson ran for two and passed for another – all in the first half – as West rocked SSS 48-7 Friday night for its sixth straight win in the series.
It was the first game as a varsity head coach for new SSS mentor Wes Hill, who was previously an assistant at Clayton.
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West, a member of the Greater Neuse River 4A, was ahead 41-0 at the break before the second half was played with a running clock.
SSS, a member of the Two Rivers 3A, had a minus-36 yards offense in the first half.
“We’re a young team that played a young team, and we were fortunate to play well,” West coach Jimmy Williams said. “We wanted to come out fast and fortunately we were hot to start the game. We like (Strickland) to have the ball in his hands, and he made the big play for us to start the game.”
Strickland picked up the Spartans’ squib on the opening kickoff, found a seam in the coverage and returned it 79 yards for a score. It was a strong omen of what was coming.
They said it
“It was good to get the goose egg off the board,” Hill said. “The boys kept plugging and we finally got a break. I expected West to be that efficient. They’ve got a very good team. They’ve run that offense for years and they’re well-coached.”
Three who mattered
Mack, West Johnston: The junior was pretty much unstoppable in the first two quarter, finishing his 100-yard night before the halftime show.
“We started off pretty rough,” Mack said. “But once we learned their defense, the guys on the line were opening up some big holes for us. It was great to score the way we did tonight. I think we picked up a lot of confidence.”
Wilson, West Johnston: The junior completed four of eight passes for 97 yards and a score, adding 26 yards rushing for the pair of TDs.
“We had a few bumps, but overall we had a good night on offense,” Wilson said. “We just tried to stay focused, execute the way coach wanted us to do, and show a good product on the field.”
Strickland, West Johnston: The senior tight end/linebacker had the big kickoff return to set the tone, also catching a pass for 16 yards.
By the numbers
1: SSS first down before the fourth quarter.
3: Plays for West Johnston that lost yardage.
10: Ballcarriers for Smithfield-Selma.
40: Yardage on the longest completed pass of the night, from Wilson to DeAndre Blevins to give West a 27-0 lead on the first play of the second quarter.
51: Rushing yards on three carries for SSS sophomore Tion Mickens, whose 41-yard sprint with a minute to go wiped away the shutout and gave the Spartans positive rushing yardage (16) on the night.
126: Total yards for Wilson, all in the first half.
West’s next two games are at home against county rivals South Johnston and Cleveland.
The Spartans host Nash Central and then visit Clinton before hosting county rival Clayton on Sept. 11.