Zac­carelli nabs first ca­reer win in shutout

Wolvs score all points in sec­ond half, down Spar­tans

Maryland Independent - - Sports - By MICHAEL REID mreid@somd­news.com

Dur­ing his ten­ure, Do­minic Zac­carelli won a ton of games as head coach of the West­lake High School foot­ball team. Son Tony drew a bit closer when he won his head coach­ing de­but af­ter the host Wolver­ines shut out St. Charles 22-0 in both teams’ South­ern Mary­land Ath­letic Con­fer­ence sea­son open­ers on Fri­day.

Af­ter a score­less first half dur­ing which both teams had plenty of chances, se­nior quar­ter­back Chad Palmer tossed a pair of touch­downs over the fi­nal 24 minutes to give the younger Zac­carelli his first ca­reer vic­tor y.

“The guys fought through a lot of ad­ver­sity to come out and get the win, so it’s pretty ex­cit­ing,” Tony Zac­carelli said. “The guys de­serve it. Over­all, I was pleased. We have work to do, but I’m pleased with the per­for­mance.”

“It’s amaz­ing to give Coach Zac his first win as head coach. It’s real re­liev­ing be­cause we worked real hard and we know the score­board showed it for us,” West­lake se­nior de­fen­sive end Dion­dre Greer said. “Hard work pays off. It’s

ef­fort, that’s all it is.”

The Wolver­ines (1-0 over­all) put their first points on the board mid­way through the third quar­ter. Palmer tossed a pass down the right side­line and it ap­peared the pass was in­tended for a wide re­ceiver, but se­nior run­ning back An­thony John­son II snagged the pass and scored from 13 yards out. Palmer zipped a pass to se­nior Rae­shad Her­riott for the 2-point con­ver­sion.

“I was go­ing to the side of the field to [sopho­more re­ceiver] Jalon Spencer, but my run­ning back took it to the end zone,” Palmer said.

Palmer be­gan the 7-play, 41-yard drive with a 10yard strike to Her­riott, his first com­ple­tion of the game af­ter nine in­com­ple­tions. Palmer (4 of 19 for 46 yards) made the key play of the drive with his legs, how­ever, when he scam­pered for a 15-yard gain on a quar­ter­back draw on fourth down and 10.

Op­por­tu­nity knocked early in the fourth quar­ter to set up the sec­ond score of the game. West­lake punted and, when the Spar­tans muffed the catch, ju­nior cor­ner­back Des­mod Har­rod re­cov­ered the ball at the St. Charles 4.

“Huge,” Zac­carelli said of the fumble, one of three re­cov­er­ies for West­lake on the night. “That was a com­plete mo­men­tum change for the guys. That’s when the tide moved for us and mo­men­tum for St. Charles was gone. It took the breath out of them.”

“That was a big play and mo­men­tum shift,” Palmer said.

Five plays later, se­nior CJ Cle­ments fought off a de­fender and hauled in a 9-yard pass from Palmer, who then ran in the 2-point con­ver­sion.

Alexan­der Opiyo added an in­sur­ance touch­down late in the game when he ran it in from 10 yards out to cap a 6-play, 29-yard drive. West­lake scored 16 points off turnovers. The two teams com­mit­ted 22 penal­ties for 208 yards.

“West­lake played an ex­cel­lent game,” St. Charles head coach Avery Wil­liams said. “They ex­e­cuted bet­ter than we did. We just have to go back to the draw­ing board and work on our ex­e­cu­tion and our men­tal fo­cus.”

On 11 drives, the Spar­tans (0-1) were held to less than 10 yards on eight of them.

“En­ergy,” Greer said of the key to the West­lake de­fense. “They come out loud, they like to try to tempt us to make mis­takes, so we had to set­tle in and get hyped. We had to un­der­stand what was at stake and we sure did the sec­ond half.”

Twice in the first half the Wolver­ines drove down in­side the St. Charles 11yard line but turned the ball over on downs.

“We were def­i­nitely frus­trated,” Greer said of the open­ing 24 minutes. “[We saw] too many mis­takes on the board and we tried to clear it up and we did.”

“The of­fense started off real slow get­ting three and outs, so it was up to the leader of the team and the quar­ter­back to be more calm and poised and be a leader on the field,” Palmer said. “We knew we needed to come out fast and hard ev­ery play and try ev­ery play to score.”

Zac­carelli added, “With the way our de­fense was play­ing I wasn’t too con­cerned with the way they were driv­ing the field. I was def­i­nitely con­cerned that if we couldn’t punch it in ev­ery time we got down there, that we’d be in for a long fight. But our guys turned it on in the sec­ond half.”

The Spar­tans reached the West­lake 28 late in the first half, but the half ended. St. Charles’ deep­est pen­e­tra­tion in the sec­ond half was the Wolver­ines’ 46.

“They played great de­fense tonight,” Wil­liams said, “but at the same time we made a lot of men­tal er­rors we have to fix on our­selves.”

St. Charles is sched­uled to host McDonough at 7 p.m. The Rams de­feated Great Mills in Week 1, 229. West­lake is sched­uled to be at Great Mills at 6 p.m. Fri­day.

STAFF PHOTO BY MICHAEL REID

St. Charles quar­ter­back Mar­lon Brown is sacked by West­lake’s Rex­ford Edlen, left, and John Barnes in Fri­day night’s con­test. West­lake shut out St. Charles, 22-0.

STAFF PHOTO BY MICHAEL REID

St. Charles full­back Zion Dink­ins runs for yardage in Fri­day night’s con­test at West­lake. The Spar­tans were shut out, 22-0.

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