CROZET — It wasn’t an electrifying rout or thrilling victory over a U.S. 33 rival like Spotswood experienced in the first two weeks of the season. But after a workmanlike effort at Western Albemarle, the Trailblazers came away with 35-0 victory.
And that was all that mattered to Spotswood coach Dale Shifflett.
Spotswood running back Ethan Barnhart carried 29 times for 289 yards, and is already closing in on 1,000 yards just three games into the season, as the Blazers remained undefeated despite a rainy evening that limited the SHS offense somewhat.
Ryan High was an uncharacteristic 6-of-15 passing for 67 yards, but with Barnhart running hard and a strong defensive effort that limited the Warriors to 127 yards of total offense, it was enough. Particularly as Cole Myers added 87 yards and two touchdowns on the ground.
“We tried to throw the ball a little bit because we need to be able to do that even in conditions like this,” Shifflett said. “We didn’t execute consistently with it, but our guys up front did a great job and our running backs. Our guys took it to them and that’s a testament to those guys who don’t miss workouts.”
Midway through the first quarter with Spotswood already leading 7-0, Western Albemarle (0-2) appeared to catch its big break. With High scrambling in the rain, the Warriors’ Austin Shifflett stripped and recovered the ball with nobody between him and the goal line.
But Colton Good caught him from behind and poked the ball loose for Spotswood teammate Ryan Shonk to recover inside the 10-yard line, saving a touchdown and swinging the momentum back to the Blazers.
“I’m proud of our guys for doing that,” Dale Shifflett said. “We didn’t cry. We went down the field and ended up getting the ball back. They could have gotten some momentum and instead they didn’t get that and it was a great job by our guys.”
Still, the Spotswood offense that looked remarkably balanced and prolific a week ago against William Monroe was back to relying on Barnhart on the damp turf and the senior’s 16-yard touchdown run in the second quarter gave the Blazers just a 14-0 lead at halftime, despite outgaining the Warriors by nearly 250 yards through two quarters.
Spotswood continued to feed Western a steady diet of running plays in the second half and eventually pulled away.
“Our goal the whole time was to excel and what we do,” Barnhart said. “The balance is key, they can’t just key on one thing offensively and our defense was so strong tonight. When the defense performs is when the offense performs. We build off that and the defense was impeccable tonight.”