Kenesaw (WA) 25, Shelton (WA) 20
SHELTON — The game plan on both sides was similar. So was the size, strength and effort.
But Kenesaw’s Tyler Schnitzler was a wild card. The all-state quarterback rushed for 289 yards and all four touchdowns on 28 carries to lead the Class D2 No. 6-ranked Blue Devils past No. 4-ranked Shelton 25-20 Friday night. “Tyler was just able to get loose,” Kenesaw coach Craig Schnitzler said. “We had some great blocks up front and he made some people miss. (Shelton) brought a lot of guys all night. I’m proud of our effort.”
Schnitzler fueled Kenesaw in the win, but it was the defense that sealed it in a scoreless fourth quarter. After the Blue Devils failed to convert on a fourth down with seven minutes left in the game, the defense forced a three-and-out to get the ball back. After a missed 35-yard field-goal attempt from Kenesaw with 1:47 remaining, the defense held again, giving up no yards to force a turnover on downs with 38 seconds left. A kneel down sealed the win. “I told the guys before the game that it was going to be trench warfare, and it really was tonight,” coach Schnitzler said.
Kenesaw outrushed Shelton 391-201 yards. Tyler’s brother, freshman Preston Schnitzler, took 21 carries for 105 yards. The ground game was tough sledding for the most part, but big plays from Tyler Schnitzler added up the yards in a hurry. His third-quarter touchdown runs of 65 and 37 yards made all the difference. “I thought the effort was there, but Tyler is just a great athlete,” Shelton coach Mike Lowe said. “He can shift around and make us miss. On his two long touchdown runs I could’ve sworn we had him tackled, but he scampered up the sideline.”
The game was working in Shelton’s favor early on. Clayton Stoppkotte stripped the ball from a Kenesaw ball carrier on its opening drive, which was recovered by the Bulldogs on their own 15-yard line. Still in a scoreless game late in the first quarter, the Shelton defense forced a turnover on downs on its own 12-yard line. Shelton’s defense would then recover another fumble early in the second quarter, this time on the Kenesaw 16-yard line, which led to the first score of the game. Stoppkotte found Taryn Hawks in the back of the end zone for a 12-yard touchdown pass to give Shelton the 8-0 lead. The Bulldogs did themselves no favors for the rest of the half. After a 53-yard touchdown run from Schnitzler to cut the lead to 8-7, Shelton had a great opportunity to extend the lead before halftime with a first-and-goal on the 9-yard line, but back-to-back dropped touchdown passes left the Bulldogs empty-handed. “That was big,” coach Schnitzler said. “We had some coverage mistakes, and we were very fortunate to get out of the half with (giving up) only one touchdown.”
“We had some tough breaks go our way,” Lowe said. “That could’ve changed the whole course of the game.” Luke Glenn, who rushed for 173 yards and two touchdowns on 31 carries, got the Shelton offense going in the second half. Kenesaw was able to respond, take the lead, and the Bulldogs just ran out of time. “They’re good,” Lowe said of Kenesaw. “They put a five-man line and sometimes a seven-man line and they’re all big and physical, but our guys stood right up to them.” “I think, if anything, we should’ve gained some respect,” he added. “Whatever the rankings are after the game, I still think these are two of the top five teams in the state.”
Robert Washington Jr., Southlake Christian Academy (NC)
For the first time all season, talented freshman tailback Robert Washington Jr. said he felt completely healthy. The 5’10″, 185-pounder has been battling a hip injury all season. Friday night he totted the ball 13 times for 151 yards and a pair of touchdowns. His season stats: 51 carries/522 yards/5 touchdowns/10.2 yards per carry. “Not bad for running on one leg! Felt good to be all the way back!” Washington proclaimed.
The Charlotte product is considered one of, if not the best, running back prospects in the Class of ’16. He tore up Team USA’s Under-15 competition in Austin, Texas this summer. It opened D1 college coaches eyes. His first offer: Ole Miss of the mighty SEC.
Robert and his family have visited Duke, North Carolina State and Ole Miss on unofficial visits this Fall. Before it’s all said and done, the Trent Richardson look-alike will have offers from every power conference across the country. The Washington’s have turned Robert’s recruiting over to Upper Hand Promotions.
Mel Fager III, Middletown HS (PA)
It has not been the dream season junior standout Mel Fager III hoped for his youthful Middletown (PA) team this season. At 0-7, the Blue Raiders have made their share of mistakes but have been in most football games. Fager III has been a steady influence. The 6′, 180-pound wideout has averaged over 20 yards a catch on his 25 receptions, tallying a trio of touchdowns. He possesses a strong leg at punter. And as this snapshot shows, he is a skilled defensive back: picking off his 2nd pass of the season this weekend.
ESPN Radio recently called Upper Hand Promotions: “The fastest growing recruiting agency in the nation for top high-school student/athletes looking to play next level.” Are you in yet?