WOODSTOCK – Sterling is included in a piece of history it really wants no part of.
The Golden Warriors were the opposition for the first-ever home playoff game for Woodstock North on Saturday night. North, in just its fourth year as a school, sent the home crowd home happy with a 68-20 victory in a first-round Class 5A playoff game.
The Thunder (7-3) rolled up 563 yards of offense, not including an 85-yard, icing-on-the-cake kick return in the final minutes.
“We knew they were good offensively and defensively. I’ll take a lot of the blame for that,” Sterling coach Jon Schlemmer said. “We weren’t prepared probably the way we should have been. The wheels fell off a little bit, and they kept rolling.”
The main thorn in the Golden Warriors’ side was senior fullback Ryan Wade, who rushed 19 times for 146 yards and six touchdowns. He entered the game with 154 carries for 1,022 yards and 12 scores.
“Everything was working,” Wade said. “Our linemen were blocking – everything was good.”
Adam Haimbaugh (18-132, TD) also cracked the 100-yard mark, and the Thunder finished with 46 attempts for 380 yards. North executed all night, but Sterling didn’t offer much opposition.
“It’s just assignment football,” Schlemmer said, “and they had good some good angles on us. We tried to adjust, but it’s really hard to simulate their quickness and speed in practice. There were times we had them, and just didn’t make the plays.”
North scored on its first three possessions to seize a 21-0 lead. Sterling got to within 21-7 after a 5-yard TD run by Tanner Morse with 4 minutes, 20 seconds left in the second quarter, but the Thunder scored three more times before halftime.
Two of the TDs were set up by Sterling turnovers – an interception by Morse and a fumbled kickoff return by Temo Barron.
“We didn’t expect this,” North coach Jeff Schroeder said. “We saw them on film and thought they were pretty physical and pretty tough and well-coached. That couple of turnovers they had toward the end of the half really hurt them, and we were able to capitalize. It just started snowballing from there.”
The fifth of Wade’s six touchdowns made the score 48-7 with 9:20 remaining the third quarter, setting a mercy rule clock in motion.
Sterling scored two TDs in the fourth quarter, on a 15-yard pass from Morse to Alex Soriano, as well as a 56-yard run by Draque Penaflor-Heier, giving the Warriors’ fans who stayed until the end something to cheer about. Most of the night, however, was a forgettable one for the Warriors.
“They came out ready to play,” senior lineman Brandon O’Brien said, “and I feel like we just didn’t try as hard as we needed to sometimes. We came out a little lazy, a little lackadaisical, and we just didn’t have that extra oomph to finish this one off.”
Star of the game: Ryan Wade (WN) 19 carries, 146 yards, 6 TDs
Key performers: Adam Haimbaugh (WN) 18 carries, 132 yards, 2 TDs; Brian Loftin (WN), 6-for-7, 183 yards, TD
Up next: Woodstock North at Woodstock Marian, 2nd round of Class 5A playoffs, TBA