CALLAHAN, Fla. – Zorian Stanton has the ability to force coaches into adjustments — even his own.
The West Nassau receiver is one of many weapons for the Warriors, but with more performances such as the one Friday night, it will be easier for coach Rickey Armstrong to grow fond of the passing game.
West Nassau had 267 yards passing, with Stanton getting 143 of those on nine catches, including the go-ahead fourth-quarter touchdown, as the host Warriors rallied to topple Bishop Kenny 31-20.
West Nassau (4-1) traditionally is ground-based, and that works well with Armstrong’s beliefs. But with Stanton and alternating quarterbacks Blayze Padgett and Chaz Hirschman, and fellow receivers Chaz Davis, Elijah Canode and Centari Mitchell, who missed Friday’s game, there is a reason for change.
“It’s me trying to get better throwing the ball,” Armstrong said after Stanton had 107 yards receiving in the second half. “We’re a running school, and I’m trying to get better at throwing. We’re getting better every week.
“He’s good. It’s me. We’re trying to get him the ball. We’re trying to get Chaz the ball, and I have Centari coming back next game.”
Stanton took short passes and turned them into good gains. He hauled in deep passes and scorched the Crusaders secondary.
A 27-yard reception in which he got behind two defensive backs gave West Nassau a 24-20 lead three minutes into the final quarter. A 28-yarder set up Davis’ 15-yard scoring catch less than four minutes later.
“We came out in the second half hyped and won the game,” Stanton said. “They kept playing off, so we went with hitches to open it up and then call a (long pass) here and there.”
Stanton even had a 30-yard reception, in which it appeared he had a foot in bounds, ruled incomplete near the end of the first half. It was part of a difficult stretch for the Warriors.
West Nassau grabbed a 14-7 lead with Leggarius Johnson’s 7-yard scoring run capping a drive aided by 42 yards in penalties by Bishop Kenny (1-3). But the Warriors yielded a 14-play, 7-minute, 23-second scoring drive compounded by a pair of personal fouls on the same sequence and then fumbled on their next possession.
The Crusaders scored again, once again aided by two personal fouls that both came after a play.
Even with Stanton’s reception waved off, Will Carroll’s 34-yard field goal trimmed West Nassau’s deficit to 20-17.
Stanton said he just blew off the events at the end of the half. That might have been easier said than done for Armstrong.
“Those calls, yeah,” Armstrong said with a groan. “The kids were going crazy. I had to go in and get them calmed down. We got our heads right, and we did a pretty good job the second half.”
The Warriors struck an almost-perfect balance with Padgett throwing for 135 yards and Hirschman for 132. A nine-play drive to start the second half ended on downs, but Stanton and Davis scored on the next two possessions.
West Nassau’s defense turned in a strong performance as well.
The Warriors held Bishop Kenny to only 86 yards and three first downs in the second half, as the Crusaders were without Brad Miller, one of their alternating quarterbacks, after he was injured to start the third quarter.
Ethan Webb and Dallas Raulerson each had a pair of tackles for loss for West Nassau, with Webb getting a sack. Bryson Williams broke up two passes, including one in which he put a devastating — but clean — hit on the receiver.
That play pretty much ended Bishop Kenny’s hopes. The team failed to rebound from a blowout loss to Parker last week and struggled Friday with 14 penalties for 132 yards.
The Warriors, however, rolled up 393 yards and 23 first downs. With numbers like that, they can head into the bye week, giving Armstrong another couple of weeks to warm to the passing game.
West Nassau 31, Bishop Kenny 20
Bishop Kenny, 7, 13, 0, 0—20
West Nassau; 7; 10; 0; 14—31
BK – Andrew Tabor 49 pass from Brad Miller (Sean Meisler kick)
WN – Blayze Padgett 1 run (Will Carroll kick)
WN – Leggarius Johnson 7 run (Carroll kick)
BK – Miller 2 run (kick blocked)
BK – George Farmand 1 run (Meisler kick)
WN – Carroll 34 FG
WN – Zorian Stanton 27 pass from Chaz Hirschman (Carroll kick)
WN – Chaz Davis 15 pass from Padgett (Carroll kick)
Category: BK; WN
First downs: 11; 23
Rushes-yards: 30-92; 34-126
Passing: 147; 267
Comp-Att-Int: 12-18-0; 19-30-0
Fumbles-lost: 2-1; 2-1
Penalties-Yards: 14-132; 10-65
RUSHING — BK: Max Hefner 16-68, Miller 7-30, Louis Riles 2-4, Farmand 3-(-2), Raesean Cummings 2-(-8). WN: Davis 7-49, Ethan Johns 5-37, Johnson 8-32, Jesse Rochay 6-21, Padgett 2-1, Hirschman 4-(-4), Team 2-(-10).
PASSING — BK: Miller 5-7-0-85, Farmand 7-11-0-62. WN: Padgett 8-14-0-135, Hirschman 11-16-0-132.
RECEIVING — BK: John Godwin 5-73, Tabor 5-72, Lucas Sams 1-6, Jordan Brown 1-(-4). WN: Stanton 9-143, Davis 3-48, Elijah Canode 4-43, Johnson 2-20, Rochay 1-13