No. 6 Trojans take down No. 2 Bluejays
BEEMER – Just when it seemed Guardian Angels Central Catholic was going to end Wakefield’s upset bid, the Trojans stepped up and solidified a statement victory.
Finally healthy after an ankle injury in the opener, preseason Fab Five running back Esgar Godinez showcased his potential as No. 6 Wakefield knocked off the previously-undefeated Bluejays 38-22 on Friday night at Beemer City Park.
“It’s finally healed,” Godinez said before admitting his coach was saving him for Friday’s game. “He wanted me to go easy on the other games so I could be healed for this game.”
His stat line would attest to that. Godinez rushed 21 times for 215 yards and four touchdowns – just 30 yards fewer than the opposing Bluejays gained as a team.
GACC came into the game ranked second among area eight-man teams and fourth statewide in Class D1 by the Omaha World-Herald. But it was the visiting Trojans which got into a rhythm at the outset, and outside of a stretch in the third quarter, controlled momentum throughout the night.
“They’re one that, when the schedule comes out, you circle them,” Wakefield coach Mike Hassler said. “That’s your measuring stick. That’s a credit to coach (Dave) Ridder and his program that they have that reputation. They got our best shot tonight, and they put up a heck of a fight. They’re a great team.”
Wakefield threw just two passes, both incompletions, but the Trojans thundered for 321 rushing yards on 54 carries. In addition to Godinez, another 165-pound senior in Dylon Harder added 83 yards on 18 rushes.
That brings to mind the word Hassler said his team has seemingly adopted this year – grind.
“We say that you have to grind for four quarters, and grind isn’t a bad thing,” he said. “You have to grind through life, you have to grind through a job, you have to grind with your family. If you become good at that, you can accomplish a lot of things. That’s what they’ve become good at this year, is just grinding for four quarters.”
The Bluejays were limited to 245 yards of total offense, and 142 of those yards came on five pass completions. The numbers reflected the disappointment on the other sideline.
“We didn’t get off blocks, we didn’t execute defense, we didn’t tackle well,” Ridder said. “We just didn’t play well.”
Despite that, big plays kept GACC in the game.
Cody Steffen recovered a muffed punt that set up the first touchdown for the Bluejays in the second quarter. Jadyn Smeal had four receptions for 132 yards, and he also returned the opening kickoff of the second half for a touchdown. On the Bluejays’ next possession, he caught a 39-yard pass to set up Jared Minnick’s 5-yard touchdown run that put GACC within 24-22 with 5:36 left in the third quarter.
But that’s when the Trojans took over, and the Bluejays couldn’t answer.
Wakefield responded by burning more than 4½ minutes before Godinez took a toss sweep between two blockers around the right side for a 17-yard touchdown run. After the defense forced a three-and-out, the Trojans marched for almost six minutes before Godinez broke free around the GACC sideline for a 33-yard touchdown run with 4:41 left.
Two completions to Smeal, including a 40-yard play in the middle of the field, helped the Bluejays drive inside the Wakefield 5, but an incompletion on fourth down gave the ball back to the Trojans to run out the clock.
“I think our coaching staff did a terrible job preparing them. We came out flat, and they handed us our (butts),” Ridder said. “That’s pretty much what it is.”
That momentum started on the opening kickoff, which Godinez took to the Bluejays’ 35. Three plays later, his first carry was a 24-yard touchdown coming from the left side of the formation on a trap play, and Dylon Harder added the two-point conversion for an 8-0 lead just 1 minute, 3 seconds into the game.
Wakefield led 16-0 until a muffed punt with just over three minutes left in the first half put the hosts 12 yards from paydirt. Four plays later, Steffen scampered around end on a bootleg to turn fourth-and-3 into a 5-yard touchdown.
Godinez responded on the next drive. He took a pitch from his own 37, raced down the Wakefield sideline, made a defender miss at the 15, and finished it off for a 43-yard touchdown run with 29 seconds left in the first half.
“It’s big for our program,” Hassler said of the win. “We don’t make the playoffs this year. This is part of our playoffs. We’ve had four chances to prove ourselves – we’ve won two and lost two – but in all four, we’ve put up a fight.”
Wakefield 8 16 8 6 – 38
GACC 0 8 14 0 – 22
WAKE: Esgar Godinez 24 run, Dylon Harder run, 10:57.
WAKE: Harder 5 run, Godinez run, 7:38.
GACC: Cody Steffen 5 run, Cash Meier pass from Steffen, 1:20.
WAKE: Godinez 43 run, Harder run, 0:29.
GACC: Jadyn Smeal 74 kickoff return, PAT failed, 11:50.
GACC: Jared Minnick 5 run, Aaron Disher pass from Steffen, 5:36.
WAKE: Godinez 17 run, Godinez run, 0:50.
WAKE: Godinez 33 run, PAT failed, 4:41.