Wildcats Run Over Father Tolton Catholic

Adam Dean Howe
Contributing Writer
By Adam Dean Howe
Enterprise Staff
The Warsaw Wildcats offense plowed through the defense of Father Tolton Catholic on Friday night on their way to a 44-20 victory.  Aiden Comer led the green-and-black offense with 289 yards rushing, by far a career high for the first year, senior running back.
After Father Tolton received the opening kickoff, it looked as if the Warsaw defense would also be in for an exceptional night, but when Blazers quarterback Gabe Pfenenger completed a screen pass on 3rd down and 7 yards to go to CJ Campbell, he raced 29 yards to the redzone and that would setup a 1 yard touchdown to Connor Fogue just two plays later.  Max Brucks PAT was good and the Boone County team had the early 7-0 lead.
In front of a larger-than-normal home crowd though, the Wildcats answered.  After a good return on the ensuing kickoff, and on a bit of a razzle-dazzle play, wide receiver Grayson Gregrich found fellow wideout Clayton Simons over the middle for a gain of 37 yards.  Comer took the next play for a run of 25 yards and then he capped off the drive with a hard 10 yard TD run.  His 2-point conversion attempt was denied, but the Cats were back in it quick, down just 7-6.
“We’re doing our best to try to find ways to get Grayson involved because he’s just such an athlete,” Warsaw coach Ryan Boyer said.  “He may not get many chances for those types of plays though, so it was nice to see him execute that one.”
Warsaw would attempt an onside kick early and though the return was bobbled, the Blazers would recover and take advantage. On an already short field, and on another 3rd down, Pheneger completed another screen pass, this time to Fogue and he took the ball 60 yards from there to set Father Tolton up for a 1 yard dive by Pfeneger for another touchdown for the visitor’s.  This time, Brucks PAT was wide right, but the Blazers extended their lead to 13-7.
Both teams exchanged punts in their last possession of the opening quarter and you could tell that this was going to be a good one, even if the Blazers did lead, 13-7.
On their opening drive of the second quarter, Comer punished runners on three straight runs, however that drive was quickly halted when Cats quarterback Matt Couzens pass was intercepted, intended for tight end James Kellner. The Blazers scored on their first play on yet another perfectly run screen pass that went for another TD, this time from Pfeneger to Dylan Block.  Bruck converted the PAT and the “tarheel” blue and white led the Warsaw squad, 20-6.
It was on the next drive that the Wildcats offensive line decided to take over the game, driving their opponent down the field.  Comer had runs of 4, 6 and 19 yards to pickup a first down and Couzens scampered for an 18 yard first down run just 2 plays later.  Comer finished the drive with a 20 yard run and then scored his second TD of the night from 1 yard out.  He also converted the 2-point attempt and with 6:59 left until halftime, the Cats only trailed by one possession, 20-14.
The Warsaw defense was stingy on the next Blazers drive as they came up big on a 3rd down with 6 yards to go.  On a touch pass intended for Fogue, the ball hit the ground and Wildcats defensive lineman Lane Bates covered the runner for the tackle and a 7 yard loss.  That forced a Blazers punt and Warsaw would get the ball back.  That Wildcats drive was marred by untimely penalties, however, and Warsaw was forced to punt on 4th and 15.  With time running down in the first half, the Blazers looked to be on the move after a 34 yard pass completion, but that’s when Chase Steiner intercepted a Pfeneger pass in the Warsaw defensive backfield with just :45 left to go in the half.  That Wildcats drive was stopped by the clock and at halftime, the scoreboard showed the Wildcats down, 20-14.
Boyer’s boys would receive the second half kickoff and after a 38 yard return by Simons, it didn’t take the Cats much time to get on the board again.  On 1st down and 19 to go, Couzens found Gregrich across the middle for a 21 yard gain and the first down at the Blazers 20 yard line.  Two plays later, Couzens would take a run up the middle for a 17 yard touchdown run.  The 2-pt conversion was no good this time, but Warsaw knotted the game at 20-20 just less than 3 minutes into the half.
After a 17 yard first down run for Fogue on the Blazers first play of the half, they would try to take their offense to the air again.  However, on their next play, Warsaw’s Gregrich would jump the outside route for the interception and he would take it to the house from 62 yards out and another Wildcats score to give the home team their first lead.  The 2-point conversion was good again and Warsaw led, 28-20.
Apparent defensive adjustments forced constant pressure from the Wildcats front line and disrupted Pfeneger in the second half.  A 1 yard run and two incomplete passes later, the Blazers punted the ball back to Warsaw.  Comer had two more nice runs of 28 and 19 yards but then a fumble off of the hands of Couzens returned the ball to Father Tolton.  That drive was a short one again as a much more physical Wildcats defense than weeks past continued to punish the BoCo squad.  Their drive was stopped and a short punt turned the ball back over to the Wildcats.
Warsaw steamrolled their way down the field once again on steady runs by Comer and Couzens and that drive ended when Couzens took the ball across the goal line for a 10 yard touchdown run, his second of the night.  His 2-point attempt to Kellner was knocked down, but the Wildcats extended their lead to 34-20 just shortly into the fourth quarter.
It was the Wildcats defense that came through again on the next Father Tolton drive as they got the ball back when Kellner drilled Block and forced a fumble.  The Wildcats recovered and their offense was back on the field.  That drive, however, ended in another Jack Gardner punt, but it was a good one when it was downed on the 4 yard line of the Blazers.  A penalty later, the ball was at the 2 yard line and that’s when Tristen Reynolds sacked Pfeneger for a Warsaw safety, making the score 36-20.
The Warsaw offense notched one more touchdown with just 4:53 left in the game when Comer rumbled his way to a 29 yard touchdown, his third of the game.  His 2-point conversion made the score 44-20 and the defense handled the game from there as they went on to secure the win for the Wildcats.
“This was a great team win,” Boyer said.  “We told the boys that this was a big week; that this game had district implications.  They stuck to the plan, executed and we were glad to get the win.”
Shaking his head, Boyer went on to say, “I can’t say enough about the defense.  The pick 6 and the forced turnovers are something that we haven’t seen a lot of and that’s just a testament to the work that they’ve put in. It’s nice to see those boys getting theirs.”
The Wildcats will take on Skyline in their regular season home finale this Friday when they host the Skyline Tigers for Senior Night.  That game will kickoff at 7:00 PM on Randy Morrow Field on the campus of WHS.