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November 24, 2013

Hennessey ends Washington’s season in second round

HENNESSEY — Washington overcame a great deal of adversity this season, from a rough non-district schedule to the loss of starting quarterback Brock Harmon in Week 10, to advance to the second round of the Class 2A playoffs.

But the Warriors’ run came to an end on a frigid and windy day in Hennessey, where the Eagles simply outmanned the Warriors on the way to a 41-7 victory in a game that was originally scheduled for Friday.

Hazardous road conditions prompted officials to move the game to a 1 p.m. Saturday kickoff, and while the roads to Hennessey were better, on-field conditions hadn’t improved much. A stiff and persistent wind limited both offenses, and both squads largely kept the ball on the ground for most of the game.

That turned out to work in Hennessey’s advantage. The Eagles (11-1) used a size advantage along the line to open big holes for running back Tabor Johns and quarterback Tony Mendoza. The pair combined for 238 rushing yards and four touchdowns as the Eagles slowly wore down the Warriors, who end their season 9-3.

“We had a lot happen this season, and with injuries to seniors we became very young for this game,” coach Brad Beller. “That makes it hard to compete against a veteran team like Hennessey. But I think our guys did a great job making it through everything this season to get to this point.

Hennessey jumped on top early on Saturday. After forcing Washington into a quick three-and-out, the Eagles strung together several first downs before Abraham Ortega went 19 yards to put Hennessey on the board. A key holding call derailed Washington’s next drive, and Johns scored the first of his three touchdowns on an impressive 61-yard run.

Washington got off to a much slower start. The Warriors were unable to string enough plays together to put together drives in the first half, and didn’t earn a first down until midway through the second quarter. But the Warriors did get on the board late in the first half on Luke Ladlee’s 31-yard run, and kept things tight through most of the third quarter.

Washington’s offense found its groove in the second half, and the Warriors began to pick up consecutive first downs to move the ball. But Hennessey scored on a wide receiver pass on fourth down in the third quarter to stretch the lead again, and turnovers did Washington in from there. The Warriors put the ball on the ground seven times and lost three fumbles while also throwing three interceptions.

The Warriors will return several key members of this season’s team that finished second in their district and advanced to the second round of the playoffs yet again. All things considered, Beller said this year’s squad overcame more than most to advance as far as they did.

“This team is very resilient,” he said. “There were a lot of issues that came up this year, from injuries to deaths in the family. They overcame a lot. I think when they look back at it they’ll see how far they’ve come.”

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