Farrell Shelton’s game plan heading into Fort Zumwalt East was more about defense than offense. The head coach of Eureka was worried about his defense matching up against the Lions’ offense fueled by quarterback Andy Barrett and receiver Daniel Morris.
After all, both Barrett and Morris are two of the area’s top players four games in.
“Their offensive firepower was what really worried us,” Shelton said following his team’s 38-0 thumping over the Lions. “Could we keep up with them? Could the back end of our defense stay with them?”
Yes to both.
The Wildcats’ senior-driven defense erased every concern their coach had following another stout performance. In fact, they held Barrett in check all night. When the Wildcats weren’t crashing through the Lions’ offensive line, they were flushing Barrett out of the pocket, forcing him to beat them on the perimeter.
Barrett, who threw for 205 yards in Week 2, managed just 47 yards against the Wildcats. Morris was held to one catch for 7 yards. For perspective, Morris set a state record for yards per catch in a single game in the season opener against Francis Howell Central.
The Wildcats scored on their first play from scrimmage to jump to an early lead. Senior quarterback Brett Geisz heaved a pass down the far sideline into the hands of junior receiver Cameron Nisbet for the score.
Down by a touchdown, the Lions were still very much alive. However, their next series proved devastating.
The Lions had the ball near midfield when running back Devon Dillon took the handoff from Barrett but was hit hard near the line of scrimmage. The ball was jarred loose, and linebacker Cole Reat scooped it and rumbled 48 yards for the touchdown.
Eureka’s sideline erupted with high fives and fist pumps. The touchdown was a bit ironic. Reat started the first three games on the offensive line. However, last week, the 6-foot-1, 210-pound junior made the switch to linebacker. The move paid off.
To his own admission, Reat was a bit surprised when he saw the ball bouncing on the turf.
“I was thinking don’t drop on it, don’t fall on it, don’t fumble it … all the things you can imagine running through your head,” Reat said.
The Lions were dumbfounded. Any momentum that would have been was gone in the blink of an eye.
With a 14-0 edge, the Wildcats kept their foot on the throttle.
A 10-yard score by Stephen Erutti and a 31-yard touchdown pass from Andy Coulter to Dylan Brems ended the first quarter.
The second stanza was much the same as the first. Eureka dominated on both sides of the ball. Coulter threw his second touchdown pass of the night, this time a 13-yard strike to Nisbet.
“You got seniors that cherish the opportunity to be out there and that’s what I’m proud of,” Shelton said. Our entire starting defense, they understand the clock’s ticking on ‘em. We only have so many of these Friday night’s left, so let’s make it special.”