BY TIM BIRNEY
Valley Sports Report
WAVERLY — Waverly coach Jason Miller attributes a slow offensive start to impatience, but said the Wolverines played a complete second half in their 28-14 win over Oneonta Friday.
“I don’t think we played bad in the first half,” said Miller. “Oneonta is just athletic enough at every position — they are every bit as good as us, but I think we were a little better up front.
“We didn’t make a lot of mistakes. I thought, perhaps, we were just a little impatient offensively going down the field — lower-percentage throws, basically tying to score on one play,” he noted. “Offensively, we were never in synch. We ran the ball pretty good in the first … we’d get off-schedule by trying to score on one big play.
“(Oneonta) will hang with people, but as the game went on you could see they were starting to suck wind — we wore them down and became more dominant as the game went on,” Miller added.
A little patience in the second half went a long way, said Miller.
“In the second half, we were just much more patient in taking the short throws,” he said. “And, that’s kind of been our MO. We’re pretty good when we’re patient and throw the ball short, and take what people are giving us.
“We don’t have game-breaking speed, so when we get in situations where coverage is dictating throw the ball down the field, we’re throwing the ball down the field and nobody is there,” noted Miller. “We’re not able to get a lot of separation to get behind the defense.
“At halftime we talked, and all the coaches said: ‘Let’s slow down, be more methodical and take what they’re giving us.’
“We started to throw higher-percentage passes,” added Miller. “Instead of throwing posts, we’re throwing slants … the slant is thrown at 8 yards, and the posts are 35 to 40 yards. It’s the same rout, but shorter, and right off our break we’re open.”
Miller takes part of the blame for his inner-battle to want to throw deep against man coverage.
“That’s exactly what it is,” he said. “It’s not that the kids are failing to execute, it’s just impatience.”
Miller said the Wolverines got a big boost in the run game from junior Caden Wheeler.
“I thought David (Hallett) ran the ball very well, and I though Austin (Kimble) ran the ball very well.
“Caden Wheeler had a breakout game. He ran the ball great, and he is one of our guys that has a different gear,” Miller noted.
Miller said Wheeler was also instrumental on defense against the Yellowjackets’ passing game.
“(Wheeler) had a monster game on defense. He really had three picks, but he knocked one of them down in the end zone, so he ended up with just the two interceptions.
“Oneonta had some very good receivers,” said Miller. “They threw for 286 yards on Owego, which I thought had a very good secondary, and they threw for just a little more than 100 yards on us.”
Miller also notes only one of Oneonta’s scores was against Waverly’s first defensive unit.
“It was 28-7 with a minute to go, and they did score on our second unit, but I thought they played well, too. Oneonta had to drive the length of the field to do score.
“We didn’t have a JV game, so we brought up some JV kids to get some varsity time for the first time,” said Miler. “That was pretty cool.”
Heading into the game, Miller’s biggest concern was Oneonta’s dual-threat QB Graham Wooden.
“(Wooden) has the capacity to spread the ball around.
“Coming into the game, I didn’t think he threw the ball great, but he was always able to make plays and get the ball out,” said Miller.
“I thought we did a pretty good job of pressuring him and making him throw the ball early, or at least scramble out and throw it on the run, neither of which is good for any quarterback.
“He’s electric running the ball,” noted Miller. “I thought we did a decent job, not a perfect job, of containing him. He had some yardage, but was not able to make the big play.
“In the past, he’s had done a great job of keeping his eyes down field, so when he was scrambling it makes you a little nervous,” added Miller. “We did a good job of staying back and being disciplined.”
Miller took the blame for the only snafu in special teams play Friday night.
“I give the kids a B+ on special teams, and I give myself an F.
“I just dropped the ball by not preparing enough on special teams,” said Miller. “(Oneonta) ran a spread punt with (Wooden) at punter. He was in position where he could run or throw, and we had to match up on the outside. One time they caught us where we weren’t lined up properly, and we left a man uncovered. (Wooden) threw for a first down in a very obvious punting situation, through no fault of the kids, just my lack of preparation.”
Otherwise, it was a good night.
“Alex (Gadow) was 4-for-4 on PATs, and drilled the ball,” said Miller. “He did a very good job of placement on his kick-offs, keeping it away from pretty fast guys back there. He did a pretty good job of dropping it in, and the coverage was very good.
“We punted once or twice … and the snaps, punts, and coverage were good on them.
“We played pretty good on special teams,” added Miller.
GRADE: B+. “There were some mental miscues,” said Miller. “Despite our inability to prepare for something in practice, you would like your kids to be able to adjust a little bit on the fly with some common sense football things, without holding their hands and doing it.
“My lack of preparation got us into that situation, but the other side of it is we’re in game six of varsity football, and there are certain things we need to be good at, and one of those is lining up properly,” he noted.
“We jumped offsides a couple of times, and those things to me are completely inexcusable.
“That said, It’s always nice to go on the road, arrive later than normal because of the bus situation, sit on the bus for an hour-and-a-half, come off the bus and play a pretty good game,” Miller continued.
“I don’t care what anybody’s record is, (Oneonta) is a Class B school with some good athletes. It’s a good win for us, and evens up our record,” he added. “Plus, it puts us in a positive frame of mind heading into a very big week.”
IN PHOTO: Waverly coach Jason Miller.
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