• John Macon Gillespie

Coverage Recap: Nanih Waiya 34 | Vardaman 14

The Rams made the game close, but the talent of Nanih Waiya proved too much for them on Friday night.

Nanih Waiya defeated Vardaman 34-14, which is the narrowest margin of victory the undefeated Warriors have had all season.

The Warriors rode the legs of quarterback Bryce Stanton early on as he accounted for two rushing touchdowns in the first two quarters. A Hail Mary from Trae Owen to Kody Townsend as time expired in the first half, however, pulled Vardaman within one score at the intermission, trailing only 13-7.

On the first play from scrimmage in the second half, however, Warrior running back Chris Smith began his clinic of a performance on a long rushing touchdown. After a two-point conversion from Taemaus Glass, the Warriors led 21-7. The Rams would answer with a rushing touchdown from quarterback Trae Owen, but two more rushing touchdowns from Smith would put the game out of reach.

The biggest takeaway from the night, however, may not be the final score. Vardaman proved it can compete with one of the best teams in 1A. Although Nanih Waiya experienced some turnover issues and was not sharp at times, the Rams still held one of the most talented offenses in their classification to 34 points, a season-low for the Warriors. If Vardaman can play with this attitude and enthusiasm down the stretch and into the postseason, they could win out and make a deep playoff run.

Nanih Waiya showed some glimpses of imperfection on Friday which had been rare in their previous games. The Warriors, for the most part, dominated the game, but did not do so in their usual blowout fashion. Vardaman gave Nanih Waiya just enough problems to make the game interesting. Give credit where credit is due, however. Vardaman is not a pushover, and Nanih Waiya beat this talented Rams team by 20 points. That margin shows that the Warriors can and will continue to punish teams as the season continues.

Looking Ahead:

Vardaman now sits at 5-3 overall and 3-2 in Region 3-1A. The Rams’ loss to French Camp in September continues to loom large over the 1A playoff picture and could prove to be the difference between Vardaman hosting or traveling to the Gulf Coast in the first round of the playoffs. Make no mistake, however. Regardless of where Vardaman plays, they are good enough to make the postseason interesting. The Rams travel to 3-6 Sebastopol next week.

The Warriors are still undefeated at 9-0 and 6-0 in region play and should be able to secure a division championship if they continue to play at this level. Nanih Waiya is a complete football team that can pass and run the ball with great success. Behind talent like Bryce Stanton, Taemaus Glass and Chris Smith, the Warriors are poised to make a deep playoff push. We could see them representing 1A South in Oxford this season in the state championship. Nanih Waiya travels to winless Ethel next week.

Player of the Game:

Chris Smith—It took a half of play for Smith to get going, but once he did, he was almost impossible to stop. Nanih Waiya put Smith at quarterback in the “wildcat” formation late in the game, and he made the Ram defense pay out of that role.

Keep your eye on Chris Smith as the season rolls on. He will do special things.

#NanihWaiya #Vardaman #JohnMaconGillespie

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