WAVERLY – The Waverly football team started slow but took over after the first quarter on its way to a 57-7 home victory over the Lexington Minutemen, Friday night.
The story of the season for the Vikings so far has been its hydra of an offense. Teams think they have stopped one back, only to find two other backs springing for touchdowns.
Friday night versus Lexington, the defense made its impact felt as it held Lexington seven points.
After a first quarter Waverly touchdown from senior quarterback Mason Nieman, the Vikings had Lexington backed into a third and long and were looking grab the momentum early.
“We gambled and they guessed right,” Head Coach Reed Manstedt said.
The Minutemen beat the Waverly blitz for an early first quarter touchdown on an 82-yard strike.
Take away the one long Minuteman 82-yard touchdown pass and the Vikings held Lexington to 83 yards of total offense, 34 yards rushing and six first downs.
“I was just really proud of the way our kids handled the adversity after getting a big play hit on them early,” Manstedt said.
When the defense had a chance to get off the field, the Vikings bowed up. Lexington only managed to convert one third down on eight tries and turned the ball over four times.
After another Nieman touchdown run, the Vikings were being pushed back by the Minutemen when senior linebacker Barrett Skrobecki grabbed one of those turnovers.
According to Manstedt, Skrobecki showed blitz then fell back into coverage, swiped the ball meant for a Lexington receiver running a slant pattern and took it all the way back for a touchdown.
“It was, in my opinion, the play that changed the game,” Manstedt said.
From there the Vikings would get another stop, putting the ball back in the hands of its potent offense with plenty of time left in the second half.
Nieman had two first half touchdowns, it was time for the next back in Waverly’s monstrous backfield to step up.
Junior running back Zane Schawang busted off a 17-yard touchdown run and an Evan Canoyer run for the two-point conversion made the Viking lead 29-7 going into the half.
Schawang would kick off the scoring in the third quarter on a three-yard run to make it 36-7.
Not to be left out, later in the same quarter junior running back Evan Canoyer, who came into the week leading Class B in scoring, found the end zone.
Canoyer had 55 points scored coming into the week four matchup added one touchdown, four PATs and a two-point conversion to up his total to 68 points.
The Waverly offense didn’t quite live up to its average total offensive output per game, only gaining 402 yards while it averages 452, as it took its foot off the pedal later in the game.
Not that the second team didn’t make its mark on the scoreboard itself.
Sophomore running backs Eddie Johnson and Jacob Stroh spend most of their time with the scout team but when given a chance to shine on the field, they took it.
“A lot of those guys who got carries are doing those same good things on Monday nights in (junior varsity) games,” Manstedt said. “There’s no doubt it’s not always the funnest thing in the world to be a scout team running back or scout team offensive lineman. For us to be able to get those guys in the game for us on Friday and for them to really come out and play at a high level was so fun to see.”
Johnson scored a seven-yard touchdown and Stroh dove in from two-yards out to set the final score.
With the win, the Vikings are one of four undefeated teams left in Class B.
The bad news is one of the other four unbeaten teams remains on the Waverly schedule, a Oct. 11 clash with defending state champs and current No. 1 Omaha Skutt.
Manstedt said he expects another key piece of his offense back when senior running back Ethan Kastens returns from a separated shoulder he suffered in the first quarter of the week one win over Seward.
Waverly is already one of the leading rushing offenses in the state, regardless of class, and adding back a senior leader like Kastens should mean sleepless nights for opposing defensive coordinators.
In the newest ratings from the Omaha World-Herald, the Vikings remain at No. 3 behind No. 2 Scottsbluff and Skutt.
The Vikings will travel to Norris to face the Titans in a Friday night matchup of Lancaster County rivals.