A hard hit knocked senior quarterback Evan Stanley out of the game early Friday night, as Wewahitchka went on to run past Franklin County 54-13.
On a fourth-and-20, Stanley was tackled and when he hit the ground, he got off without remembering what had happened. That was the sign of a concussion and Florida High School Athletic Association rules mandate he must be taken out of the game and can’t return.
Stanley had completed 2 of 3 passes for 28 yards, when junior quarterback Alex Sterling stepped in. He would go on to hit 7 of 16 passes for 157 yards, including a 50-yard scoring strike to junior Brayden McCall in the third quarter.
“Our kids played hard,” said coach Dirk Strunk. “Alex Sterling did a good job coming off the bench at quarterback. We have to continue to work on finishing drives and limiting turnovers.”
The Gators drew first blood midway through the first quarter, as junior running back Caleb Carter sprinted in from 38 yards out, and Wewa led 8-0.
The Gators added a second score, late in the quarter, when senior PJ Garrison ran in from 15 yards out, but the Seahawks matched it when sophomore Garyson Millender scampered in from two yards out. The Gators led 16-6 at the start of the second quarter.
Midway through the quarter an interception by freshman Bailey Cox killed a Seahawk drive, and Wewa scored with three minutes left in the half to lead 24-4.
But the key development had been the ousting of Stanley.
“We did a pretty good covering them,” Johns said. “They were down one of their good receivers so that helped us a little bit, and then when we knocked the quarterback out early in the game, obviously they were playing shorthanded after that.
“(Stanley) for them is just a different guy. He can run the football so well and we kind of didn’t have to worry about the run anymore after he went out and we were able to play six defensive backs and keep them from throwing the ball,” he said.
After senior PJ Garrison scored from five yards out with 19 seconds left in the half, the Gators went into the locker room with a 32-6 lead.
They would increase their lead to 40-6 when Carter scored from six yards out midway through the third.
“We didn’t cover real good on a couple of those and Sterling put the ball in a decent spot and the guys caught it,” said Johns.
Sophomore Damian Hughes ran it in early in the fourth quarter, and sophomore Tyran Willaims completed the Gator scoring with four minutes left in the game.
Millender ran 11 times for 17 yards, and Stanley once for 12 yards.
McCall caught five passes for 118 yardsm and junior Ethan Kembro four for 67 yards.
Senior Mason Moses and freshman Eric Smith led with 15 tackles each, while senior Kevin Sullivan and junior Sheldon James each had 10.