High school football: Southeastern run game, defense stifles Northwestern in opener

Credit: Name Test

Credit: Name Test

SPRINGFIELD — For the first time since 2016, the Southeastern High School football team opened the season with a victory — and the Trojans accomplished it in convincing fashion.

Southeastern beat host Northwestern 41-7 on Friday night at Taylor Field.

Sophomore running back Hayden Davis rushed for 144 yards and two touchdowns and senior Thomas Sulfridge rushed for a TD and caught another as Southeastern jumped out to a 41-0 halftime lead. Junior quarterback Zach McKee went 4-for-5 for 155 yards and two TDs.

Defensively, Southeastern caused five turnovers, including a 30-yard interception return for a TD by senior Caleb Finney. Jonah Asebrook and senior Aiden Harbage also had interceptions, while junior C.J. Wilt and senior Caden Barnes each had fumble recoveries.

“We established the run game really quickly, which is always nice early on,” said Trojans coach A.J. Woods. “The defense played great. We had some bone-headed mistakes but overall we had a really good first half. There’s still some mistakes to be fixed. It’s one step in the right direction and we’ve got nine more steps to go.”

Senior Brock Mansfield scored the lone touchdown for the Warriors on a 65-yard run in the fourth quarter.

Southeastern opened the game with a 1-yard TD run by Davis. The Warriors drove into SE territory, but Wilt recovered a fumble. A few plays later, Sulfridge scored on a 61-yard pass from McKee to give Southeastern a 14-0 lead.

“I’m thrilled to be a part of this team,” Sulfridge said. “They played their butts off. I’m glad we got the win. It was a team effort.”

On the next possession, Finney intercepted a tipped pass and took it 31 yards for a TD to make it 21-0.

“We snowballed immediately,” said Northwestern coach Nick Bandstra. “That’s all on me. We weren’t prepared well enough and I’ve got to fix that. You can’t have that many mistakes in the first half and expect to win a football game. They executed and we didn’t. That’s the straight fact of it and I take full responsibility for it.”

On the next possession, McKee hit Asebrook on a 13-yard TD pass to make it 28-0. Davis and Sulfridge each scored on 1-yard runs in the second quarter to make it 41-0 at the half, triggering the running clock in the second half.

The Trojans coaching staff wore hats with the initials RW in honor of Woods’ father, Rick Woods, who passed away earlier this year. Woods was a longtime teacher, administrator and baseball coach at Southeastern.

“I think since 1992 I’ve been involved with Friday night football whether I was a ballboy, playing, coaching and now being an AD,” A.J. Woods said. “It was the first one without Dad. Next week will be even harder at home. It’s a tough thing, but I try not to focus on me too much. It’s about our boys over there and they did a nice job tonight.”

The Trojans host Ridgemont next week in South Charleston. Southeastern beat the Golden Gophers 30-6 last season.

“It was a great start for our boys,” A.J. Woods said. “We’ll enjoy this win tonight and get ready for Ridgemont.”

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