Special to the Times
The Valwood Valiants opened their regular season, and head coach Ashley Henderson earned his first win, with a dominating win over the Windsor Academy Knights, 49-0.
The GISA powerhouse scored touchdowns on each of its first six possessions, including an 11-yard strike from quarterback Jake Lastinger on the third play of the game.
“We played hard, I thought we flew around good. We made plays,” Henderson said. “We knew we could come out, spread the ball around and make some plays. We wanted a fast start, and we got one.”
The Valiants racked up 169 yards of total offense, including 99 yards on the ground, in the first half as they took advantage of short fields, set-up by early turnovers by Windsor Academy.
Valwood forced six turnovers — five fumbles and an interception, which was returned for a touchdown — as the defense stifled the Knight’s offense all night.
Lastinger tossed three touchdowns, two to standout receiver Rashad Mathis. On one play, Mathis broke three tackles and took a screen pass 16 yards to the end zone. Lastinger finished 5 for 6 for 69 yards with his three scores.
Valwood’s starters were pulled with around ten minutes remaining in the second quarter.
“Anytime you get everyone in, that’s a happy day,” Henderson said. “There are a lot of kids out here working.”
The passing game propelled Valwood with three quick touchdowns in just five plays, at one point. The Valiants had a pair of one-play touchdowns, which were the result of great plays by Lastinger and his receiving corps.
The running game continued to power the offensive juggernaut, highlighted by a 45-yard touchdown run by sophomore running back Marik Merine.
In the second half, the Valiants managed just nine total yards, as Windsor managed to sustain some drives on Valwood’s second team defense.
Despite the complete win Henderson is not getting complacent.
“You can always improve; we are always going to strive to be perfect,” Henderson said. “We’ll use this film to correct some mistakes and just grow. We have to grow as a unit and keep working, keep expanding the playbook, more and more. We made less mistakes this week than last week, so we’re getting better and better.”
One area the Valiants’ coaching staff was eager to take a look at was the special teams unit. GISA rules prohibit special teams play during scrimmages.
“I thought we were solid,” Henderson said. “We covered. Looking back at the film, we didn’t cover very well last year. We had plenty of opportunities on kickoff to cover and we really did. We were violent when we got there and we refused to be blocked. It looked really good, I thought.”
Valwood will face a slightly tougher test next week when they go on the road to take on undefeated Edmund Burke Academy.