By: Jim Steele
Waverly junior quarterback Gavin Stanfield and a career night...at the expense of the host McKenzie Rebels Friday night.
The lefty was 13-19 passing for 381 yards and six touchdowns as the Tigers rolled up 528 offensive yards in a 56-14 road victory. Stanfield threw for 277 yards in the first quarter, alone.
The Rebels suffered a tough night. Already depleted by injury, McKenzie suffered the loss of its leading ground gainer Joseph Miller with 9:30 to play in the second quarter. He sustained an unspecified knee injury after a 56-yard run to the Waverly 4. McKenzie scored on the next play when Deaaron Diggs ran it in from the 2. Diggs also was injured during the game.
McKenzie coach Wade Comer remarked that Waverly's personnel was pretty proficient at moving the football.
"They have some really good skilled people," he said. "They exposed our back end and made some big plays."
Stanfield had TD passes of 51, 61, 20, 64 and 43 yards. He also rushed for a 41-yard touchdown. Waverly led 21-0 with 1:04 to play in the first quarter. That's when the Rebels' Josh Cannon bolted 95 yards on the kickoff return. Miller added the PAT run and McKenzie had given itself a shot, trailing 21-8 with :41 to play in the first. In an eyeblink, Stanfield connected on a 75-yard scoring pass seconds later. Waverly led 28-8 after one.
"We came out and played pretty well at the beginning, but when things went bad, we didn't have any leadership," Comer said. "We had a lot of kids out, but that's just an excuse and we let it be that and it showed up tonight."
After Miller's big run, which resulted in his game-ending injury, Diggs charged his way into the end zone. The pass failed, but McKenzie had cut the lead in half, 28-14 with 9:13 to play in the half.
Twenty-three seconds later, Waverly connected again when Stanfield hit Colton Cochran for a 64-yard scoring strike for a 35-14 lead. With 4:12 to play in the half, Stanfield squirted loose for a 41-yard TD run and the Tigers went into the clubhouse leading 42-14. They got the ball to start the third and needed only three plays to get on the board again. Stanfield looped one to Michael Jackson, who romped 41 yards for the 49-14 lead with 10:16 to play in the third. From there, the clock ran continuously.
Waverly tacked on another score off a pick-six by Matt Cox late in the third.
"Waverly will be in the semifinals for sure. They are a team you'll have to go through to get to the state champonshp game," said Comer. "Hats off to them, they have a good team."
Comer said the status of Miller, who had eight carries for 77 yards before leaving the game, won't be known until Monday.
"We will have to wait until they take a look at him and get x-rays," Comer said. "We'll just have to suck it up and go."
Waverly, 4-1, will host Riverside while the Rebels, 2-3 on the season, will host 3-3 Halls this coming Friday. Halls defeated South Fulton 26-14.
"We have to come out ready to play have to have some kids step up and be ready to play," Comer said. "Hopefully we can get that done."