Jeremy Jenkins got a little defensive when his team started the year by losing its first two games.
Then he put a saddle on running back Cliff Sanders.
Combining those two things was a nightmare Happy Valley didn’t want to experience.
The Trailblazers went back to the basics on defense, and Sanders carried 30 times for 210 yards as Boone whipped Happy Valley 29-0 on Friday night at Hale Stadium.
Daniel Boone’s defense produced two of the team’s four touchdowns on interception returns, and Sanders got the other two.
“We really went back to the fundamentals,” said Jenkins of his defense. “We tried to go with something we’re good at and stick with it.”
Boone improved to 2-2 on the season and has outscored its last two opponents 70-0. Happy Valley fell to 2-2 and has been outscored 70-0 by its last two opponents.
In the last 10 quarters, Boone has allowed just 13 first downs. Part of the reason for the defensive success starts with kickoff man Chris Dickerson, who authored five booming touchbacks.
“We’ve got a huge weapon,” said Jenkins. “You’ve got to go 80 yards every time. Chris Dickerson is as big a part of this team as anybody we’ve got.”
Happy Valley, a ground-oriented team, went to the air three times in its first four plays. None of the passes were completed, and Boone led 12-0 thanks to a three-and-out and an interception return for a touchdown.
The Trailblazers had a 13-play, 51-yard drive that was capped off by a 1-yard touchdown plunge by Sanders, who carried nine times on the drive. On the next play from scrimmage, Boone free safety Jacob Littleton picked off a lobbed pass on the run and raced 30 yards for a touchdown.
A little over seven minutes into the game, and the Warriors were behind the eight ball.
“We got hurt by the turnover bug,” said Warriors’ head coach Larry Shively, whose team was short-handed because of some injuries. “We just struggled and Boone has a good team.”
However, it was only 12-0 as Happy Valley’s Colton Haun blocked an extra-point attempt, and Boone missed on a 2-point conversion pass.
Boone missed three field goals and sputtered deep in Happy Valley territory several times, keeping the Warriors in the game until midway through the fourth quarter.
Zack McCracken drove one between the uprights from 19 yards out midway through the third quarter to make it 15-0.
Finally, Boone pounded home the clincher behind the running of Sanders. He carried all six times on the 47-yard, six-play drive, and scored from one yard out.
“I just did what the coaches told me to do, like I have the last three years,” said Sanders. “(Fullback) Josh Bacon made block after block. I made the runs and he made the blocks. And the offensive line blocked good.”
Boone’s defense held Happy Valley to 76 yards on 29 rushing attempts, and the Trailblazers outgained the Warriors 337-112.
Happy Valley’s top runners, Zack Ball and Jaylen Simmons, were held to a combined 51 yards on 20 carries. Warriors’ quarterback Seth Davis completed only five of 21 passes for 36 yards.
Adam Edwards tacked on the final score when he intercepted a pass at the Boone 40-yard line, made a spin move, and raced down the sideline before making a couple of cuts and powering into the end zone with 3:26 to go.
Boone has Dobyns-Bennett at home next week, so it’s a big step up.
“I’m forgetting about this and moving on to next week,” said Sanders.
Said Jenkins, “We know it’s a big test. It’s the same offense, but it’s a little different speed.”