East's physical play overpowers West

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By Todd Martin

After 10 years, East Middle School stood up and punched rival West in the mouth Tuesday.

Well, at least on the football field.

The Missiles (9-0) controlled the line of scrimmage on offense and defense with a steady running game and a high-pressure pass rush to beat West for the first time in 10 years, 36-14.

Both teams entered the game undefeated and looking to win the regular-season title in the Mid-Bluegrass Conference, but East's defense took over late in the second quarter after West (8-1) had cut its lead to 16-14.

"They did an onside kick and got it back, and that's when our defense really stepped up," East Coach Alan Matthews said. "We stopped them on fourth down, and then West gets the opening kick off of the second half and goes nowhere. From there our defense was lights out."

Matthews said his team's game plan was to get in the face of West quarterback Logan Bailey.

"West has a high-powered, quick-strike offense, so we had to get pressure on the quarterback," Matthews said. "When they went to the Shotgun, we wanted to get pressure on him."

West Coach Roy Bailey Jr. said the Missiles' pressure forced the Warriors to change their offense.

"We had to start doing some things we weren't really comfortable doing," he said. "We were trying to spread them out, so we could get the ball to our athletes in the open field. But they did some things with their line and their linebackers that we couldn't stop -- they were bringing more guys than we could block."

East extended its lead to 22-14 when quarterback Dylan Thompson plunged in from the 1-yard line.

And that score was set up by the Missiles' defense. East stopped West's fourth-and-15 try inside the 20 on a sack by Nick Waurio.

East's defense gave up just 9 yards on West's next possession, again earning a stop on fourth down, and Thompson drove the Missiles to another touchdown.

He connected with Michael Barry on a 32-yard pass on fourth down to set up Justin Stewart's TD at the start of the fourth quarter and added a 2-point conversion pass to Barry to make the score 30-14.

Chris Montort capped the scoring with a 51-yard touchdown run with 4:56 remaining in the game.

"We take pride in being a physical team, and we have some players that love it," Matthews said. "That was the best game we've played all season."

East may well have to repeat that performance.

Though each team has a game remaining, they'll meet again on Oct. 11 at North Oldham in the conference championship game.

"Hopefully we can make some adjustments and have a different outcome," Bailey said.