NEW RICHMOND - All the excitement and emotion that had built up over the course of the summer and fall camp was set for release at 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 6.
Only, it didn't work out that way.
Of course, Wyoming East and new coach Larry Thompson were no strangers to waiting, after having the rare bye week in Week 1. So, when rival Westside was late arriving because of bus problems, it was just another delay.
At the end of the day, the Warriors did more than enough in the first half, rolling to a season-opening 44-14 victory.
With the win, Wyoming East retained the Golden Shovel for the third year in a row. The 1999 team was also honored at halftime, and the Youth Leagues in the area were honored before the game.
Caleb Bower rushed for 103 yards and two touchdowns (and added a third on a punt return) and the Warriors scored in every phase of the game as they went up 36-0 in the first half.
"I think they played well from start to finish," Thompson said. "We have to clean up some mistakes, fix some things here and there. Overall, the intensity was where we needed it to be. We controlled our emotions. We had a few mistakes early. I expect that. I expect jitters. But if we can get over that hump and ride the wave out, which we did, we'll be on top at the end. And that is exactly what happened."
Westside Coach Herbie Halsey said Renegade miscues were a big part of the Warriors' start.
"We had a couple of turnovers early and a couple of dropped passes in the first quarter," Halsey said, "but overall we never did lay down."
Wyoming East scored early and that, along with turnovers, opened the floodgates. Bower, who rushed for 1,290 yards last season, broke the ice on the second drive of the game, taking the handoff, making a couple of cuts and diving into the end zone from 15 yards out.
After a turnover, Wyoming East struck again, this time Chase York scoring his first high school touchdown on a 7-yard run. They would finish the first quarter with a defensive score when Josh Reilley sacked Westside quarterback Blake Goode in the end zone for a safety.
After Caden Lookabill scored on a 38-yard interception return early in the second quarter, another defensive score in the game for East, Bower scored on an 8-yard run and then capped the 36-point first half uprising with a 52-yard punt return.
For Bower, who only carried 10 times, the the running came easy.
"It's just a big difference how the offense has changed since last year," Bower said. "The offensive line is blocking a lot better, the holes are there, the line is moving (the defense). We just look a lot better on offense."
As for his special teams touchdown, it almost didn't happen.
"I saw it bounce and I was going to call a fair catch then I said I was going to run it back," Bower said. "I went around the end, got a few blocks and scored."
Senior quarterback Seth Ross, who threw for 73 yards (attempting just 12 passes) and had a 30-yard scramble, said the team must match the intensity it had in the first half.
"I think our offense came out early and the defense really shut it down, got some key turnovers, I think two back-to-back fumble recoveries," Ross said. "I thought we came out good and I thought we were good until halftime. In the second half, we let the intensity down. We just have to keep that going."
Ross and Lookabill came out prior to kickoff holding a No. 13 jersey for Kaimyn Anderson, a young player who passed away at a game six years ago. He would have been a senior this season and would have worn No. 13.
"Me and Caden grew up together, since preschool, and Kaimyn was right there with us," Ross said. "All the way up through elementary and middle school. Honestly our best friends. It meant a lot to me, and I know it meant a lot to Caden. It was an honor to carry that jersey out there."
The Warriors finally got back on the board in the fourth, on a 10-yard run by Brandon Simpson, who had an all-around game indicative of his status as a role player.
Jacob Bishop led the defense with 10 tackles and two fumble recoveries. Better known as a receiver, Bishop, a defensive end, helped keep heat on Goode, one of the keys to the game.
Tanner Jenkins also added 10 tackles and Simpson had seven tackles and a fumble recovery.
Westside didn't score until the fourth quarter when Jacob Barlow broke the shutout with a 10-yard run in the fourth quarter. It was his first career touchdown. He finished with 64 yards on nine carries.
"It was fourth down and all we needed was a yard," Barlow said. "I saw the hole and I hit it and I was able to get in there."
The speedy Isaac Mosley added a touchdown on an 80-yard run, the longest run of the game and the longest of his career.
"We came back out in the second half and got the job done, but I wish we could have done it the whole game," Mosley said.
Of his run, Mosley said, "we called a good play. I saw the hole. I had to do it. I had to score. I can't let my team down, it's my final year."
Thompson wants to see his team put two halves together, which likely will be needed as the season goes on. Westside would like to see the second-half effort early.
Quarterback Blake Goode completed 12 of 26 passes for 99 yards and Spencer Kenney relieved him, completing 3 of 9 for 30 yards.
Mosley led a rushing game that netted 99 yard with 80 yards. Mosley had 4 receptions for 56 yards and Ethan Blackburn 4 for 32.
"In the second half when we put some of the younger kids in, we got to see who was ready to play on Friday night and who wasn't," Thompson said. "We still have a lot of work to do and a lot of things to clean up, but I was very impressed with the effort. I was very impressed with the intensity. We clean some things up here and there, I think we will be all right."
Ross praised fans. It was a large turnout on both sides.
"We came out with great intensity," Ross said. "The crowd packed the house, man. It was an unbelievable atmosphere. Again, it's something we aren't really used to, so kudos to them."
It won't get easier next week for either team. Wyoming East travels to 2-0 Nicholas, which has beaten two playoff teams from a year ago. Westside gets Man, which is 2-0 after convincing wins against Logan and Mount View.
Wyoming East 44, Westside 14
Score by quarters
Westside 0 0 0 14 - 14
Wyoming East 15 21 0 8 - 44
WE - Caleb Bower 15 run (Matt Caldwell kick)
WE - Chase York 7 run (kick failed)
WE - safety, Josh Reilley sacked QB Blake Goode in end zone.
WE - Caden Lookabill 38 interception return (Mason Houck pass from Seth Ross).
WE - Bower 8 run (run failed)
WE - Bower 52 punt return (Caldwell kick)
WE - Brandon Simpson 9 pass from Ross. (Houck run)
W - Jacob Barlow 10 run (pass failed)
W - Isaac Mosley 80 run (Daniel Reed run)
Rushing - W: Blake Goode 10-(minus-24), Isaac Mosley 1-80-0, Jacob Barlow 9-64-1, Spencer Kenney 3-(minus 33), Cameron Hatfield 5-12. WE: Ethan Walls 2-(-4), McQuade Canada 3-12, Chase York 6-41-1, Seth Ross 3-27, Chandler Johnson 7-40, Brandon Simpson 3-66, Caleb Bower 10-103-2, Alex Hall 4-22.
Passing - W: Brandon Goode 12-26-1-99-0, Spencer Keeney 3-9-0-30-0 WE: Seth Ross 5-12-1-731
Receiving - W: Blake Goode 1-13, Isaac Mosley 4-56, Ethan Blackburn 4-32, Parker Rolfe 1-19, Spencer Keeney 2-3, Daniel Reed 2-3. WE: Caden Lookabill 2-39, Brandon Simpson 1-9-1, Caleb Bower 1-(minus-2), Jacob Bishop 1-27