09-01-2016 Tri-City Area Sports


The high school football season opened last week to cheers all around. Watervliet welcomed the Indians of Hartford to town for their home opener and, frankly, wiped the field with the Indians. In what would turn out to be a heavy indicator of the final result, Watervliet scored 50 unanswered points in the first quarter alone on their way to an 86-0 decisive victory over the Indians. With senior Cam Rendo leading the Panther charge, it was all Watervliet all game long. In addition to the 50 points put on the scoreboard in the first quarter, the team added 22 points in the second, giving Watervliet a healthy – and unreachable – 72-0 edge at the half. Both teams were held scoreless in the third quarter, before Watervliet tacked on two more TDs in the fourth. Watervliet seemed to fire on all cylinders, while Hartford seemed out gunned from the get-go. “We knew going into the game it was going to be tough. We played almost as many freshman and sophomores as we did juniors and seniors,” first-year Hartford varsity head coach Ben Kain stated. “Only having four people even get to see a varsity game field prior to Friday didn’t help. We have a long way to go and despite the dark times, we have a bright future,” he continued.

RENDO RIPS THROUGH THE HARTFORD D-LINE… Watervliet quarterback Cam Rendo led the Panthers to an 86-0 season opener at home on Friday. Rendo, a senior, com-pleted 14 of 18 passes for 240 yards and earned a QB rating of 158.6%.

RENDO RIPS THROUGH THE HARTFORD D-LINE… Watervliet quarterback Cam Rendo led the Panthers to an 86-0 season opener at home on Friday. Rendo, a senior, completed 14 of 18 passes for 240 yards and earned a QB rating of 158.6%.

“Our youthfulness hurt us. We had a lot of wide-eyed players on Friday. Time also hurt us with such a young team; we need more time to develop them. This fall camp we spent over 100 hours with kids teaching them, but still didn’t get it done.” The big story on the evening, besides the blow-out first quarter, was Watervliet varsity head coach Jeremy Andrews’s new kicking philosophy – or lack of kicking philosophy might be more accurate. In a move he has been considering “for years” the team will, “no longer punt on fourth down,” he commented. Instead, the Panthers will onside kick every time and will also attempt a two-point conversion after each touchdown scored. “There have been studies done and the data shows these things are in your favor to do, especially with an offense like ours that is generally pretty potent. Our coaches and players are all in. I realize there may be some fan push back, but it has been a carefully considered decision and one I hope will help us get our program to the next level,” Andrews explained. Friday’s game against rival Hartford was Andrews’s first opportunity to test the new coaching shift and it worked with resounding success. The team scored 12 touchdowns and nailed the two-point conversion seven times for 14 points. And as for the criticism that Watervliet ran the score up, Andrews said, “We scored 50 in the first [quarter] which included a punt return and two unforced Hartford turnovers deep in their territory which led to quick scores. We did not onside kick after the first quarter and ran the play clock all the way down each play after that.” Andrews was also quick to point out that the team’s victory was attributable to each Panther who played. “We have nine new starters on both sides of the ball. I’ll give our guys a lot of credit for attention to detail in our prep and being ready to play from the opening kickoff.” Rendo marked his stellar season debut by completing 14 of 18 passes for 240 yards.  He threw for five touchdowns. He also carried the ball 11 times for 94 yards and two TDs. “Cameron played almost flawlessly,” Andrews stated. Rendo “made the right reads, threw the ball well, ran the ball well, and led our offense just like we need him to be successful.” Watervliet junior Zackery Pickens rushed for 153 yards on 16 carries and one touchdown. Pickens also lined up behind center. He attempted two passes with zero completions. Carlos Hernandez, a senior, scored one rushing TD for the Panthers. Bryant Kieft’s two carries for 22 yards also netted one Watervliet TD. Rendo was generous throwing the ball around. His 14 passes were grabbed by nine different Panther receivers. Senior Tyler Brant caught three receptions for 82 yards and two touchdowns. Senior Devon Flowers caught two passes for 36 yards and one touchdown. Junior Lamarrius Smith scored one touchdown; he caught two passes for 21 yards.  Pickens also netted 63 yards on two catches, including one for a TD. Hernandez caught one pass for 21 yards, while junior Tate Halamka’s one reception moved the ball seven yards. Junior Trent Boone had one reception for six yards, and junior Ryan Chisek scooted three yards on his one reception. Defensively, Watervliet was led by Chisek, Brant, and junior Bryant Kieft; all three notched three tackles. Kieft also tallied one sack. Smith and junior Sheldon Tobar accounted for two tackles each. Junior Anthony recovered a fumble and had a tackle for Watervliet. The Panther defense held Hartford to -20 yards rushing. And, in what will certainly make his highlight reel, Watervliet’s Trent Boone, a junior, ran the distance – 100 yards – on a Hartford interception late in the game. While Watervliet was racking up points, Hartford tried to combat the tidal wave of scoring. According to Kain, “Our adjustments worked offensively. We just struggled to catch the ball and win the line of scrimmage.” Kain had strong words regarding the game’s outcome. “The onside kicking most of the night even though they had a big lead,” surprised him the most. “I felt it showed poor sportsmanship on their part.” The upside, however, is Kain feels his players will be ready for action on Thursday. “I think the Watervliet game will help us tremendously because it showed our guys what it is really like to be on the varsity stage. The only place we can go is up from here.” For the Indians, Randy Ramirez had a team-high 10 tackles and one sack. Berto Ibarra contributed seven tackles. Watervliet will welcome Schoolcraft and Hartford will host Delton-Kellogg this Thursday.