STATE CENTER - Lightning flashed off and on to the north as the teams lined up for kickoff Friday.
Several minutes later, the Trojans lit up the scoreboard at a nearly equal rate.
Tallying 21 points in a three-minute span, Class 2A No. 3 ranked West Marshall rattled off 47 unanswered points in a 47-14 Homecoming rout over South Hardin in District 7 play.
T-R PHOTO BY TYLER STRAND
West Marshall’s Devin Chesler, right, stands up South Hardin quarterback Sam Shindelar for a one-yard loss in first quarter action at State Center Friday. Chesler accounted for three touchdowns as the Class 2A No. 3 ranked Trojans sprinted past the Tigers 47-14.
Devin Chesler scored three touchdowns by run, pass and punt return and Duncan Ferch rushed for 128 yards on 11 carries while also taking back a kick return as the Trojans (6-0, 3-0) quickly squashed the Tigers' early momentum.
Traveling 58 yards on five plays, South Hardin (1-5, 1-3) took the lead with Chandler Hallett's four-yard touchdown run up the middle at the 6:20 mark of the first, before the Trojans answered in a hurry.
Chesler ran back the ensuing squib kick 65 yards and West Marshall never slowed down. The Trojans defense forced a pair of three-and-outs and the offense followed with one-play scoring drives after each.
West Marshall 47, South Hardin 14
At State Center
SH - Chandler Hallett 8 run (Eric Mulder kick), 6:20
WM - Devin Chesler 65 kick return (Rafael Rodriguez kick), 6:09
WM - Duncan Ferch 45 run (Rodriguez kick), 5:03
WM - Chesler 56 pass from Matt Van Metre (Rodriguez kick), 3:09
WM - Chesler 9 run (kick failed), 9:48
WM - Chad Berrey fumble recovery in end zone (Rodriguez kick), 9:36
WM - Ferch 74 kick return (Rodriguez kick), 11:42
WM - Elijah Streeter 2 run (kick failed), 8:27
SH - David Shindelar 33 pass from Sam Shindelar (Mulder kick), 6:47
RUSHING - SH: Hallett 13-79, Bridger Lawrence 6-32, S.Shindelar 7-18, Bobby Hatton 1-3, Jordan Wilkie 1-(minus-3), Team 1-(minus-11); WM: Ferch 11-128, Streeter 3-42, Chesler 6-16, Alex Billman 5-12, Jared Johnson 1-6, Van Metre 1-0.
PASSING - SH: S.Shindelar 19-30-134-0; WM: Van Metre 3-7-80-0.
RECEIVING - SH: Bobby Hatton 5-50, D.Shindelar 3-40, Wilkie 4-23, Bridger Lawrence 3-9, Cody Haley 1-6, Hallett 1-5, Mulder 2-1; WM: Chesler 2-69, Ferch 1-11.
"We were making bad calls and were on the wrong side," Chesler said of the Trojans' defense being a step behind South Hardin on its early scoring drive. "We were running stunts that we shouldn't have so they got through the middle and scored. We fixed that throughout the game."
Ferch darted through a couple Tigers before sprinting 45 yards to put the Trojans on top at 14-7 with 5:03 left in the first. Chesler followed by turning a short screen pass into a 56-yard touchdown from Matt Van Metre as the rout was on with 3:09 left in the frame.
Chesler added a 9-yard dash early in the second and Chad Berrey pounced on the Tigers' high snap on the ensuing play to stretch the gap to 34-7 with 9:36 remaining in the half.
Extending its district win streak to 27 games, West Marshall picked up where they left off in the third as Ferch returned the opening kickoff 74 yards for the score. Elijah Streeter set the continuous clock in motion three minutes later with a two-yard push up the middle as West Marshall gave its starters the rest of the night off.
The Tigers entered with Class 2A's top passing attack with 1,211 yards through the air.
West Marshall came in with the second-best ground game.
Sam Shindelar connected on a 33-yard strike to his brother, David, midway through the fourth to stop the running clock, though the Trojans didn't let things get any closer.
South Hardin came in with Class 2A's top passing attack, though the Trojans kept things in front of them most of the evening. Sam Shindelar completed 19-of-30 passes for 134 yards and a score, while Hallett paced the ground game with 79 yards on 13 carries.
After the Tigers' promising second drive put them on the board, West Marshall shifted the momentum back with Chesler's kick return.
"(West Marshall) returning that kickoff for a touchdown is inexcusable," said South Hardin coach Barry Scott. "We've got guys not doing their jobs. It's really demoralizing after we milk out a drive and work our way down the field and then give up a touchdown so easily."
Though it was just one play, Scott didn't see his team find it's focus much of the night.
"Throughout the game we've got some cowboys out there who get out of the scheme and get undisciplinedWe're not in a position to be making decisions on our own," said Scott. "There's a system for a reason and you've got to stay in it."
Van Metre completed three of his seven passes for 80 yards and a score, while Chesler hauled in two catches for 69 yards and TD. Streeter rushed for 42 yards on three carries.
Homecoming can provide plenty of distractions throughout the week but it's rarely been an issue for the Trojans.
"The last 29 years we're 27-2 on Homecoming," said West Marshall coach Ken Winkler. "There's a lot of distractions but for the most part our kids have handled Homecoming and football through the years pretty well."
Though there may have been one other thing on the Trojans minds for time to time Friday - pizza.
For every West Marshall punt return or kick return for a touchdown, Winkler rewards the players involved on the field with pizza. Winkler jokingly reminded his players of it in the second half before Ferch's kick return and Chesler admitted it came to mind once he broke free on the punt return.
"When you're going down there and there's nobody in front of you - you're just thinking pizza," said Chesler.
And while Winkler will have a larger bill to foot next week after the two returns Friday, it's well worth the price.
"Year in and year out we're very good at special teams and we haven't had a lot of kick returns and punt returns (this year)," said Winkler. "It was an expensive night, but that's alright."
West Marshall continues its four-game homestand against rival East Marshall Friday, while the Tigers travel to Nevada.