By Bryan Hoopaugh
Williston varsity football moved to a record of 4-1 win over Wildwood Wildcats last Friday night with a score of 27-14. This is twice as many wins as the team had total last season ending with a 2-8 record.
The Red Devils look to extend their win status facing district rival Newberry tomorrow night in Newberry at 7:30 p.m. Newberry enters into the game with a record of 3-2 with wins over Santa Fe, Jefferson County and Keystone and losses to Ft. White and a shut out loss to undefeated Chiefland.
Both teams are 0-1 in district play with Williston averaging 271 rushing yards per game and Newberry averaging 183.6 rushing yards per game. While Williston has the edge in rushing the Panthers have the edge in passing yards averaging 96 yards per game and scoring five passing touchdowns in five games and also throwing five interceptions.
The speed of Williston should give them an advantage over Newberry in the ground game. Williston’s passing game needs to improve to provide a more balanced offense. Last week quarterback Stephen Cochlin had four dropped passes that should have been caught.
Focus is what Williston lacked last week, said coach Bruce Greenlee, and this was no more evident than in the passing game with several balls hitting receivers in the hands or right in the bread basket only to be dropped for incompletions.
With Newberry, Chiefland and Union County upcoming on the schedule Williston will be placing much emphasis on mental preparation and trying to limit penalties.
Each game this season Williston has given up scores and yards due to penalties, many of which have been personal fouls and unsportsmanlike conduct. Last week Williston lost 60 yards and one touchdown due to penalties. The Red Devils will have to minimize these mistakes to be able to move forward in the district rankings.
The Red Devils will rely on its defense to slow the Panther balanced offensive attack. Chiefland kept the Panthers scoreless in their game and Williston should be a very similar defensive squad as Chiefland’s was for the Panthers. The speed of Williston’s front four to close holes in the line have been monumental in keeping Williston in winning contention this year and will need to be on their game Friday night.
There are still three teams undefeated in rural 1a district 7 play. Chiefland, Dixie County and Union County have all won every game they have played both district and non-district games. Williston will face Chiefland and Union County later in the season and will need a loss by Dixie County and wins over Lake Butler and Chiefland to gain first place status in the district.
Williston’s victory over Wildwood was a 27-14 win that could have been a much greater margin had penalties and dropped passes not been a factor. The Wildcats’ only two scores were big plays with a 98 yard kickoff return for a score and 42 yard TD run right up the middle. Outside of those two plays the Red Devil defense held their opponent at bay. Williston’s defensive secondary will have the task of keeping Newberry’s passing game to a minimal and preventing big plays from the Panthers in order to ensure another Red Devil victory.