DAYTON — On its Senior Night, West Side managed to put together both a strong and shaky start to its matchup with Soda Springs before settling in for a 46-6 win.
Just 23 seconds into the game, senior running back Jaxon Moser broke a 31-yard run, taking it into the end zone. However, on the next two drives the Pirates fumbled the ball away to the Cardinals (1-7, 0-4 district)). Parker Henderson first coughed up the pigskin on the opening play of his team’s second drive of the game. Then Wayne Beckstead also lost the ball on the very next drive.
“The first half we were just doing dumb things just not playing well, making too many mistakes,” West Side head coach Tyson Moser said.
But where the offense failed to find the end zone, West Side’s defense made up for it. With just over three minutes left in the first quarter, Cristian Plancarte picked off a pass from Tugg Kap and took it 55 yards to the house, putting the hosts up two scores, 12-0. Henderson later added a 23-yard touchdown reception on fourth down to give the Pirates (7-1, 4-0) an 18--0 lead with just under three minutes to play in the first half, a lead they took into the break.
That pick-six, bolstered by the late-half TD, reversed the downward trend from late in the first quarter, and the Pirates never looked back. In the third quarter, West Side scored 22 points. Both Plancarte and Hendersen found the end zone for a second time, and Bryler Shurtliff caught a second interception for the Pirates and ran it back 56 yards for a score.
The multiple long touchdown drives and defensive dominance displayed in the second half were much more pleasing to Moser than the mistake-ridden first quarter, despite giving up a touchdown late in the third quarter.
“Much happier with our second half,” he said. “We cleaned it up, did a much better job in the second half.”
Not much really changed scheme-wise for the Pirates at halftime, offensively or defensively. The necessary spark to pull further away from a one-win team simply came from executing the original game plan.
“Halftime we just settled down, talked about some of the things we were doing wrong,” Moser said. “We didn’t really make any adjustments we just got the kids settled down at half and got things straightened out.”
Thursday’s win makes six in a row for West Side as they head into a state play-in game. The Pirates will host that contest and their opponent will most likely be against Ririe, a team they downed 18-0 on Sept. 20.
On paper, beating Soda Springs was a foregone conclusion for West Side. The former had one win and the latter had an average point differential of nearly 18 points in their favor. That didn’t stop Moser from wanting to build through this game, especially with a crucial matchup on the horizon.
“We just wanted to get some momentum today,” Moser said. “We didn’t have a great week of practice so hopefully the kids learned a lesson from that and hopefully have a great week of practice this week and come in with a lot more focus.”