West Elk pulls away for 50-14 victory over Marmaton Valley

MORAN — Coming off a perfect regular season a year ago, West Elk opened its 2018 campaign in the same way … with another victory.

The Patriots pulled away in the second half for a 50-14 victory over Marmaton Valley in the season opener for both teams Friday night.

“I felt as the game went on, we got much better,” said WEHS’ Chris Haag, who is the all-time winningest coach in program history with a career mark of 89-76 in now his 18th season at the school. “Our guys that have played some football for us really stepped up and started making plays. Most of our guys were in different positions than the ones they played at last year. So as the game went on, we were much better with our assignments and alignments and started executing our game plan. We were able to turn them over, and that was huge for us. We got it rolling in the second half. Once we got rolling, we seemed to be gelling pretty well. I was very pleased with how we progressed as the game went.”

The Patriots opened the 2018 season with another victory as they improved to 1-0. WEHS, which will remain on the road on Friday, Sept. 7, at Udall, has now won 45 of its last 49 regular-season games overall dating back to the end of the 2012 campaign.

As for Marmaton Valley, it dropped to 0-1 overall as it prepares for its Three Rivers League opener at home against Oswego. The Indians are 1-0 following a 54-14 win at Chetopa.

“It was a hard-fought, physical game,” said MVHS coach Gavin Cole. “The score is a little deceiving as it was close until late. We made costly mistakes against a good team. We lost four fumbles all on our half of the field. We struggled to get off the field on third and fourth down. I thought we played hard and matched the physicality of West Elk. I also thought we moved the ball well offensively. Unfortunately, we just didn’t capitalize on many of those drives and had those costly fumbles. This group will bounce back, and I am confident we will correct our mistakes from this week. Credit to West Elk for how they played. They have a good group and will be a tough matchup for anyone they come up against.”

West Elk lost six players from last year’s squad to graduation — the winningest class during its four-year run in school history. That meant there would be a bit of an adjustment for the Patriots this season on the field.

WEHS struck first on a six-yard touchdown pass from William Silvey to Codie Cannon. Nic Moreno ran in the conversion for an 8-0 lead after one quarter of play.

Marmaton Valley got on the scoreboard in the second period on a Patriot miscue as a snap went into the end zone and was pounced on by a WEHS player resulting in a Wildcat safety. Moments later, the Wildcats tied things up at 8-all on a two-yard dive into the end zone by Caiden Elliot.

Yet before halftime, the Patriots were able to regain the advantage on a one-yard plunge across the goal line by Silvey for a 14-8 halftime lead.

That seemed to give West Elk momentum heading into the second half. Silvey found Cannon on an 11-yard pass play for six and later ran into the end zone himself on a six-yard run for a 28-8 edge. Marmaton Valley did cut into that margin slightly on a 34-yard run by Gage Griffith to get back within two scores, 28-14, heading into the final quarter.

WEHS eventually took charge down the stretch with 22 unanswered points in the fourth period. Silvey connected with Cannon for a third score — this time from 42 yards away. Silvey then scrambled into the end zone from 18 yards away for his third rushing score of the game. To cap things off, Moreno broke loose on a 54-yard scamper to put the finishing touch on the victory.

West Elk, which finished with 339 total yards, racked up 257 yards on the ground, including a team-high 19 carries for 161 yards by Moreno. Silvey, who had 17 attempts for 70 yards, also completed 5-of-6 passes for 82 yards. Cannon was his top target with four catches for 77 yards and the three touchdowns.

Marmaton Valley recorded 305 yards of offense. That included 233 rushing yards, led by Elliot with 113 yards on 21 carries.