GREENVILLE In their first Independent Conference game of the season, and against longtime rival Tatnall on the Hornets’ homecoming, Wilmington Friends made a grand statement that they plan to repeat as conference champions.
Piling up 417 rushing yards and with five different players scoring rushing touchdowns, the Quakers, ranked 6th in Division II by the News Journal, roared by Tatnall for a 61-22 victory Saturday afternoon. The win moved Friends to 7-0 on the season.
“This was a game I was really concerned about because Tatnall is a really good team,” Quakers head coach Bob Tattersall, in his 48th season on the sideline, said. “We’ve been fighting some injuries, but our guys adjusted well, especially on defense. We had three touchdowns come from turnovers.”
“Tatnall is the most physical team we play and they really put up a fight against us last year,” explained senior halfback Jonathan Gardner, who carried 6 times for 84 yards and two touchdowns. “So the seniors made sure we had everyone ready to play today. It was a team effort on both sides of the ball.”
After Tatnall’s Sam Ragland (120 yards and three touchdowns on the afternoon) tied the game in the first quarter on a nine-yard run, Friends scored the game’s next 54 points with an assortment of misdirection runs and straight ahead dashes that wore down the Hornets (4-3, 0-2 Independent Conference).
“All the credit to our coaches, one of the best staffs in the state,” said senior fullback Stephen Maguire, also with two rushing touchdowns to his credit on the day. “We just pretty much do as they teach us and how we practice.”
Junior quarterback Justin Beneck had three short rushing touchdowns, Henry Gise had a 70-yard scamper and Khalid Horne also found the end zone for Friends, an offensive explosion that left their veteran coach surprised and happy with the result.
“I felt like we could win this game, but looking at the score,” Tattersall said, “this was unexpected.”
Even with a big win to start their conference schedule to his team’s credit, Stephen Maguire says the Quakers are focused only on an immediate prize.
“We’ll think about the state tournament when we get there,” he said. “Right now, our main goal is the conference championship.”