STEPHENS CITY — Sherando coach Bill Hall looked at the freshly printed stat sheet Friday night and shook his head.
Of course, the winning score of 41-7 against Jefferson was fine, but another number stuck out. The Warriors committed 14 penalties for 128 yards in the romp, numbers that aren’t going to make any coach happy.
Two of the penalties erased touchdowns and three came on pass interference calls. And even the stat sheet didn’t show a lot of the subtle things that Hall said will show up on film that need to be fixed.
“It was just a frustrating night,” said Hall. “I just didn’t think it was a Sherando football team out there. Ultimately, that starts with me. We just didn’t execute the way we needed to execute.
“It’s not about the scoreboard really,” he added. “We try to talk about that every week with our guys is that we try to judge ourselves based on how we execute the play that is called. We shoot ourselves in the foot way too many times. We need to tighten that up and that starts with me.”
Quarterback Chacai Campbell, who threw for three touchdowns and ran for another against the Cougars, echoed his coach’s sentiments.
“We just got to execute better and better,” said Campbell, who finished 6 of 12 for 146 yards and rushed 11 times for 98 yards. “We’ll fix everything that went wrong and we’ll come back better.”
Interference penalties aside, the Warriors’ defense has been spectacular through two games. Against a Jefferson team that had scored 42 points in a season-opening loss to Millbrook, Sherando allowed the Cougars just one trip inside the 20 for the entire game.
Payne Bauer, who had four sacks and returned an interception for a TD, gives credit to defensive coordinator Jake Smith for the early-season success. The Warriors’ first team unit has allowed just one score, a 20-yard scramble by Jefferson’s Jake Pierson in the third quarter.
“Coach Smith, he is just a mastermind,” the All-State linebacker said. “He’s putting us in the right place at the right time.”
“We just all have our own responsibilities,” added defensive lineman Caleb McLee, who assisted on nine tackles and had a solo tackle Friday. “We’ve got to make sure that we do them. As long as we maintain what we’re supposed to do, we’ll be all right.”
Pierson struggled to find open targets and was under pressure much of the evening. He finished 11 of 32 for 113 yards and two interceptions. The Warriors also shut down the ground game, allowing 47 yards on 29 carries.
“Our defense has really been playing well,” Hall said. “... We’re mixing some things up on defense that I think is good. We’re bringing good pressures and we’re doing some good coverage things, which I think had [Jefferson] a little bit off. That’s been a bright spot. I’m so pleased with Coach Smith and what he’s doing as a coordinator.”
The Warriors were able to overcome a rough start in which two scores came off the board. Jabril Hayes had a punt return TD and a touchdown catch negated the first time the Warriors had the ball.
Sherando scored in an unlikely fashion in its second series. Facing a third-and-24 from its own 40, Campbell dumped a screen pass to running back Darius Lane, who shucked one tackle and broke loose for a 60-yard TD. Wade Butler’s extra point made it 7-0.
With the offense struggling (three punts in the first four series), the defense got into the scoring action.
On the first play of the second quarter, Bauer picked off Pierson and raced 25 yards untouched for a score.
“This season I know I need to focus on my pass drops and stuff like that,” Bauer said. “I thought I read his eyes, dropped into the right spot and just made the play.”
The interception was a milestone for Bauer.
“That’s the first one I’ve ever caught,” Bauer said.
The Warriors would tack on two more scores before the half.
Lane (four catches, 112 yards) capped an eight-play, 89-yard march by once again scoring on a screen pass. He used some excellent downfield blocking from both his linemen and receivers to score.
“I just think that our line did good with their blocks and our receivers did good, too,” Campbell said of the success of the screens. “Darius got into space and got the job done.”
Campbell bolted 36 yards up the middle for the final score two plays after Pierson was stopped for no gain on fourth-and-2 from the Cougars’ 36.
“I just ran the play the way Coach Hall designed it,” Campbell said. “I saw the lane and ran through it.”
Hall said the big strikes show the capability of his team.
“You see flashes,” Hall said. “I think we’ve got some good kids that flash. It’s about being consistent. ... We’re going to get there. Sometimes you have a little growing pains and this is part of the lack of experience that shows up. But we have to each own that and that has to get fixed in practice.”
Pierson scored to cap a 96-yard march in which he connected with Antoine Lewis four times for 61 yards. The drive was prolonged by an interference penalty.
But Sherando tacked on two TDs in the fourth. Campbell threaded the needle over the middle to Hayes for a 24-yard TD. Reserve quarterback Dylan Rodeffer tossed his first varsity TD pass, finding a wide open Jordan Polston from 25 yards out to cap the scoring.
Bauer’s four sacks gave him seven on the season, just a half of a sack short of his total last fall.
“It’s just the guys in front of me,” Bauer said. “They’re just doing their jobs and it’s making it real easy for me to do my job. It’s like a chain reaction — one guy does his thing and I do my thing.”
The Warriors know they’ll all have to be doing their jobs in their next matchup against another West Virginia team. Unbeaten Martinsburg, which has won 44 straight, comes to Arrowhead Stadium on Friday.
“We know we’re not where we want to be, so we’ve got take a lot of steps in practice this week so we can compete next Friday,” Bauer said. “We just need to execute, do our jobs and not get a lot of penalties. If we do that, we can take care of business.”
“Really it’s still all about us,” Hall said. “If we can put the best Sherando product out there, we can live with the results of that. Right now as much as you worry about Martinsburg, I’m worried about Sherando. ... We have to focus and fix us. When we do that, the rest will take care of itself.”