The New Castle High football team continues to pile up the points.
The Red Hurricane exceeded the 40-point plateau for the third consecutive time en route to a 48-4 WPIAL nonconference decision over Summit Academy at Taggart Stadium.
It marked the first time since the 2008 season that the ‘Canes (3-1) have scored 40 or more points in three straight weeks.
“It’s good; I think our defense gets the assist on that tonight because we had so many short fields tonight,” New Castle coach Joe Cowart said. “As the game wore on, we have the ability to be explosive on that side of the ball. We need to continue to do that.”
Though it was a night to feel good about a big victory, there was a serious moment in the third quarter. On a successful Angel Porras extra point, the Knights’ Draven Henderson sustained an injury that caused a stoppage in play for about 35 minutes. He lay motionless on the field until a stretcher was brought out for him. He was loaded into an ambulance and left the field.
“I think a lot of what it was was his anxiety. He was moving his hands,” Summit Academy coach John McCloud said. “He’s moving his hands and that was a good thing to see.”
McCloud didn’t notice anything excessive on the play.
“I saw them hit together,” McCloud said of Henderson and a New Castle player. “But I couldn’t tell if it was helmet to helmet. It was clean. I wasn’t worried about that. I was trying to make sure my other guys were strong enough to see it and to be able to come back to play football.”
Cowart met with McCloud during the stoppage, but the teams eventually finished out the remaining 1:12 of the third quarter and the whole fourth quarter.
“There was a discussion to call the game,” Cowart said. “I met with their coach and I wanted to see how their guys were doing. They said ‘we’re hurting. We’re definitely hurting.’
“There’s nothing like it. You can’t catch your breath. Tip your cap to those guys for wanting to finish it out. I thought it was a good decision.”
Said Cowart of the severity of the situation, “There’s nothing more scary than that. When you see a young man on the field motionless. He was unconscious, but he did regain consciousness. They got him a stretcher and they were able to move his extremities. They were all good signs.”
New Castle appeared to take charge early. Tyler Leekins took the opening kickoff, cut to his left and raced down the left sideline 87 yards for a touchdown. Porras’ point after gave the ‘Canes a 7-0 lead just 15 seconds into the contest.
Consecutive safeties, though, cut the ‘Canes’ margin to 7-4 in the opening quarter. The first came when quarterback Chris Hood was whistled for intentional grounding in the end zone. He was tackled in the end zone for the second safety. The unusual three-point New Castle lead carried into the second stanza.
The ‘Canes struggled a bit in the first quarter in the shotgun formation with snaps from Kam Holmes. New Castle eventually went under center.
“He’s been excellent all year. He’s in line to be an all-conference guy,” Cowart said. “He just had a tough night early. He then finished the game really well as we went on.”
Penalties helped keep the ‘Canes’ high-flying offense grounded in the first quarter. New Castle committed 11 penalties for 85 yards in the game. Nine of those infractions came in the opening period for 65 yards.
“We certainly gave ourselves an opportunity to respond to bad football,” Cowart said. “That’s what we did in the first quarter, we played bad football. Tip your cap to those guys at Summit Academy. They did some things defensively that got us off kilter.”
New Castle took charge in the second quarter, scoring 27 points on four touchdowns for a 34-4 halftime advantage.
Tayshaun Wilkins (15 yards), and Chris Hood (5 yards) each scored once in the second quarter on runs, while Mike Wells added scoring runs of 8 and 3 yards. Wells scored a third time in the third quarter. Alex Fox pounced on a third-quarter Knights (0-4) fumble in the end zone to close the scoring.
“The resolve we showed as we continued the game and to continue to make some adjustments and clean up some leakage and things of that nature, that bodes well,” Cowart said. “I think our defense stood tall all night. They kept us afloat when things were going sideways early.”
The ‘Canes honored the 1970 team that finished 10-0 and won the MAC championship during a pre-game ceremony
New Castle returns to action at 7 p.m. Friday when it travels to Central Valley (4-0) for a nonconference matchup. The Warriors went 12-0 last year and won the WPIAL and PIAA Class 3A championships.
“When you play the No. 1 team in the state and a team coming off a state championship. A team that has a winning culture and a winning tradition, it is a barometer,” Cowart said. “It is a measuring stick for where we are at.
“Are we a team that has scored a bunch of points the last three weeks? Sure. But are we a contender or are we just another decent football team? We’ll answer some questions next week. We’re certainly not dead in the water if it goes bad and we’re not great if it goes well. It’s just another opportunity to take another step to get better and better.”