Maybe it was the product of a long, tireless and motivated offseason. Maybe it was the swagger that new Under Armor, camouflage clad jerseys brought. Or maybe it was just something in the air at Ray Manus Stadium. But Friday night, Justin Sanderson and his gritty football squad managed to effectively tear down the demons of a seasons past with a 42-13 rout of their Roswell rivals, the .
After a nightmarish 0-10 2011 season, the Hornets set a very different tone early in the 2012 campaign. A complete domination of a region rival has Hornets players and fans rejuvenated in the historic franchise.
Despite a few offensive miscues in the beginning of the game, the Hornets offense rallied behind the performance of star senior running back Andrew Kwateng.
Kwateng, often labeled the workhorse of the Hornet offensive unit, ran for 239 yards on 14 carriers, three of which were touchdowns. Managing to average over 17 years per carry, Kwateng electrified the eager Roswell crowd Friday night with two miraculous touchdown runs of 51 and 90 yards.
Shaking tackles and sprinting past Centennial players, Kwateng put an exclamation point on what is already likely to be a promising senior season. Kwateng, now a three-year varsity starter, missed most of the 2011 season with an ailing ankle injury. With last year’s breakout running back Corey Wilson now gone from the Roswell program, Kwateng will undoubtedly be in a position to be not only Roswell’s leading rusher, but also possibly an all-region player once again.
While Kwateng’s dominance on offense was certainly impressive, the Hornet’s blossoming defense may be a more promising sign for things to come this season. The Hornet’s defense completely dominated the talented Knights offense. Aided by an astounding seven turnovers, the Hornets managed to keep the Knights out of the end zone until the dwindling seconds of the fourth quarter.
The Hornets were able to successfully shutdown the Knights running game, despite a few trick quarterback draws. Being a major concern for the team last season, the ability for the Hornets to stop the Knights inside rushing game was encouraging.
The Hornets also managed to stop the very Centennial aerial attack, aided by former Centennial players Wade Francis and Harvard commit Jimmy Meyer, that had success against last year’s squad. Centennial quarterback Chase Rosenberg, who took subtle shots at Roswell via Twitter yesterday, only managed to complete fewer than 45 perecent of his attempted passes while throwing three interceptions.
With a total of four forced fumbles, as well as four fumble recoveries, and three interceptions, the Hornets ruled the turnover differential, only fumbling the ball twice when on offense. During a four-minute span in the beginning of the 3rd quarter, the Hornets forced three turnovers and came away with 14 points on two rushing touchdowns. While that is an ideal game plan for anytime, it may be difficult to replicate subsequent success in future games purely because of the randomness of fumbles and tipped balls.
Despite the Hornet’s domination of Centennial Friday night, it is hard to instantly forget the problems that haunted the Hornets throughout last year. An inability to stop the run accompanied with a shaky passing attack was a deadly combination quite too often last season.
With the success running the ball and playing stout defense, quarterback Ryan Monty had very little impact on the game. Monty, who split time with Casey Culver last year, had very few pass attempts while fumbling once on a broken play in the first half. However, Monty did have a pair of rushing touchdowns, one of which was an ellusive 8-yard play-action bootleg run in the third quarter to help the Hornets pull away to 35-6.
Friday’s victory was a massive step forward for a Roswell team that was under much doubt coming into the season. Promising things from both the offense and defense already have several Hornets fans and players dreaming of a Cinderella run to the state title. While a proclamation of a state title run may be a bit mature, the Roswell football program’s first win in 658 days, the last victory being the first round playoff game against Parkview in November of 2010, is certainly somewhere to start.