Kenzie Hansell stood at midfield after the game with Dallas Reich. Hansell was beaming as he lifted his arm around the quarterback’s shoulders — a lengthy reach over the pads of the 6-foot-3 player.
They posed as several fans and parents took photos.
“These are our real smiles,” Hansell told a photo snapper.
There was plenty to smile about for the Weston-McEwen TigerScots (8-0, 5-0 BMC) on Friday night as they took down the perennial Blue Mountain Conference titan Heppner 38-8 behind a pounding defense that created four take aways. The TigerScots’ victory — their first over Heppner since most of its team was in grade school — guarantees them at least a share of the conference title when coupled with an Enterprise loss at Stanfield.
The team moved into the red zone but faced a fourth down at Heppner’s 8-yard line needing three yards. Running back Tyler Peterson answered the call with a bulldozer-like plunge up the middle for five yards and an encore performance on his next carry — a 3-yard touchdown run.
Putting points on the scoreboard before the half changed the game, Hansell said. That previous six-point lead was the closest the Mustangs ever got.
“After (Heppner) scored, we battled back,” Hansell said. “It was 14-8 but we didn’t put our heads down. The kids didn’t think twice about it and we wanted to get the ball back and to go down and score.”
In the third quarter, the Elliot Salter show began. The running back rushed for two scores in a matter of a minute and a half to put the game out of reach. A 24-point lead in the hands of the TigerScots defense might as well have been a 100-point lead. No team has scored more than 20 points against Weston-McEwen in a game this season.
“Our defense is solid all around,” said Salter, a linebacker when he wasn’t rushing for 110 yards on offense. “We do our assignments, we execute.”
Salter also scored a touchdown early in the game — this time on defense — by returning a fumble 40 yards to the end zone. As a whole, the team had three fumble recoveries — two from Salter — and an interception.
The 30-point win was the closest game the TigerScots have seen since a 43-20 victory over Umatilla in Week 1 and the first time Hansell’s starters saw a full game of action. It was certainly different but in a positive way, said Reich, the quarterback.
“We’ve been out in just the first and second quarters of every game so far and getting to play the fourth quarter I got a little tired,” Reich joked. “But that’s what conditioning’s for.”
Heppner scored its lone touchdown on a 29-yard run in the second quarter. Earl Propheter bounced off several tacklers on his way to the end zone. Propheter rushed for 105 yards of his team’s 141 total yards from scrimmage.
Weston-McEwen will face Enterprise (5-2, 4-1 BMC) next Friday with a chance to take the conference championship outright.