TheTimesTribune.com, Corbin, KY
By John Stepp For the Endzone
Before the first four minutes of the game had been played the Williamsburg Yellow Jackets had already enabled a running clock for their game with the Jenkins Cavaliers, taking an early 35-0 first quarter lead which culminated in a 58-0 blowout in the first round of the KHSAA Class 1A Gridiron Bowl.
The Jackets were superior on all sides of the ball, led by junior standout Skyler Griffith. Griffith served as the jack-of-all-trades for the Jackets, scoring on a 67-yard touchdown pass, a fumble recovery, and a blocked punt, all within the first three minutes of the game.
“It was the craziest thing I have ever seen,” said Williamsburg Coach Jerry Herron. “He scored three touchdowns in just a matter of a few minutes. That really put the game out of hand from the get-go and got us off to a very fast start.”
It was no surprise that the game would be one-sided as Jenkins only brought 14 players on their trip to Williamsburg. The Cavaliers managed to only win one game this season and are known for fielding below average football teams – quite the contrast when compared to Williamsburg.
“We knew this was going to happen. We talked to their coach earlier in the week and they had 16 players on their team. Then two of them had quit before tonight and they only brought 14,” said Herron. “It allowed us to get our young kids ready to play, and we’re pleased with how they played in the second half. It’s good to get those kids some reps.”
The blowout victory was just icing on the cake for Williamsburg on Friday, as they were presented with their fourth straight district championship trophy before the game. The current senior class is the first in the school’s history to win four district championships in a row, but the program has won six of the last seven, and seven of the last 10, which is what Herron and those around the program have always dreamed of doing.
“We’re very pleased with what we’ve been able to accomplish. These seniors have won four district titles in a row and we’re real excited about that. They’ve done good things for us,” said Herron. “Our success is a testament to our feeder program, to our boosters club, to our administration, and everyone else that helps keep these kids coming out, equipped, and playing for us. That’s what I like about Williamsburg – we’re all one big family. This is what we’ve always wanted here and we’re excited about it.”
The Jackets showed the major reason they have had such recent success, and that is the athletes they put on the field. Williamsburg forced five turnovers on the night, including four interceptions. One of those interceptions was returned for a touchdown by junior Corey Shelton, helping Williamsburg to a 28-0 lead early in the first quarter. Shelton would scored less than a minute later on a 50-yard pass from Dalton Sizemore, giving the Jackets a 35-0 lead and allowing the clock to run unceasingly for the remainder of the game.
“Coach Hatcher’s defense is a tough defense. I’m glad I don’t have to call plays against it,” said Herron. “He gives multiple looks and has kids playing tough up front and in the secondary. We kind of knew this was going to happen tonight because Jenkins was undermanned, but they really played well on the defensive side of the ball.”
The Jackets would score one more touchdown in the first half, as Jefferson Patrick rushed for a score, giving Williamsburg a 42-0 lead at the half. Dalton Shackelford added a 13-yard score for the Jackets in the third quarter and Stone Hughett rounded out the scoring with a run of his own midway through the fourth.
For Herron and his coaching staff, having a win in which everyone on the team contributes is part of the message they are trying to convey to their players – a message that goes beyond the football l field and into their everyday lives.
“We’re trying to get this mindset of doing things the Williamsburg way. That means doing the right thing,” said Herron. “It means to do the right thing on the field, but it also means off the field, in the classroom, and in the community. We put a lot of demands on these kids because we want them to do the right thing at all times. They’re kids and they’re going to make mistakes, but they are really doing a good job of that.”
With the win, the Jackets will host Pineville next Friday in the second round off the KHSAA Class 1A Gridiron Bowl. Williamsburg defeated the Mountain Lions earlier in the year by a score of 47-0.