Two years was all Weston Schartz required to rescue the West football program from the cellar of the City League standings.
With Thursday night’s 46-15 thumping over North at Northwest’s field, West improved to 4-2 and remained in third place in the City League entering district play.
The four wins mark the most West has recorded in a season since 2001, when Schartz was in his first stint coaching the Pioneers.
“We want to show everyone that West High is back,” senior Tre’von Mitchell said. “And we’re going to stay here.”
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In order to develop staying power, West must rid itself of the symptoms that plague inconsistent teams.
After establishing a 16-0 lead in the first nine minutes, the Pioneers made mistakes that kept North, winless on the season, in the game.
West opted to go for a conversion on fourth-and-9 in its own territory late in the second quarter and failed, and coupled with the emergence of Ray Robinson in the backfield, sparked North to score its only offensive touchdown of the game on a 9-yard scamper by Robinson to slice West’s lead to 16-8 heading into halftime.
When it appeared the Pioneers were rallying for a demoralizing score in the third quarter, the ball slipped out of Kalin Collins’ hands and right to Robinson, who returned it 85 yards for a touchdown to cut West’s lead to 23-15.
“Coach had a talk with us,” West’s Javon Reed said. “We got it done after that.”
Reed and his backfield mate, Mitchell, dominated the remainder of the game, combining to rush for 292 yards and four touchdowns to score the final 23 points of the game.
North was outgained 476-172, and nearly matched its total offensive output in penalty yardage (148 on 16 flags).
“We knew things were going to get chippy and we needed to keep our heads,” North coach Joe Belden said. “We didn’t respond as well as we should have at times. That’s something we’ve got to get cleaned up.”
North’s Sean Bernard racked up nearly 20 tackles and a forced fumble from his linebacker spot. Belden said after the game that Bernard is playing through foot, elbow and shoulder injuries.
“Bernard is a warrior,” Schartz said. “I love watching him. He inspires me, just being a high school coach and seeing how he plays.”
West is primed to contend for a Class 5A playoff berth in a district featuring Kapaun Mount Carmel, Andover Central, and Arkansas City.
Even Schartz says that’s ahead of schedule.
“We’re not where we want to be, but you’ve got to come to play to beat us now,” Schartz said.
W—Mitchell 1 run (Daignault kick)
W—Oliver 12 pass from DJ Jones (Daignault kick)
N—Robinson 9 run (Elliott pass from Bryan)
W—Mitchell 28 run (Daignault kick)
N—Robinson 85 fumble return (Black kick)
W—Mitchell 3 run (Daignault kick failed)
W—Reed 2 run (Daignault kick)
W—Daignault 39 field goal
W—Patterson 9 run (Daignault kick)
Rushing—North, Robinson 12-74, McDonald 14-70, Tinoco 2-6, Bryan 7-5, Elliott 1-3, Diaz 2-(-3), Bernard 3-(-4); West, Mitchell 15-157, Reed 18-135, Capps 8-61, Patterson 3-32, Saunders 2-18, Collins 3-13, Do. Jones 3-5, Swinney 1-3, DJ Jones 2-(-11).
Passing—North, Bryan 1-9-1-13, Diaz 1-2-0-8; West, Jones 4-7-0-52, Capps 1-3-0-11.
Receiving—North, Winegarner 2-21; West, Malcolme 2-37, Mitchell 2-14, Oliver 1-12.