WARRENTON - Multiple momentum-swinging defensive stops came up void for the Warrenton football team during its 28-14 Week 1 setback against Wentzville Liberty at Big Joel’s Safari Field Friday.
Despite a goal-line stand in the trenches and two interceptions in the secondary by senior Brett Smith that limited the Eagles’ scoring, the Warriors couldn’t match their opponent on offense.
“We just didn’t capitalize on opportunities,” said Coach Steve McDowell. “That was the big thing tonight.”
Warrenton managed just 216 yards of total offense, despite a wide array of weapons on a night when rainfall persisted throughout much of the game.
“We’ve got a number of kids who can get the ball into their hands, and we just didn’t get it done tonight,” said McDowell. “Plain and simple.”
Perhaps deeper was Liberty’s arsenal, which saw six different players carry the ball, including three of those on 11 or more occasions. The Eagles churned up 301 yards on the ground.
“We talked with them all week about how the team that makes the fewest mistakes will come out ahead,” said McDowell. “They were able to come through and convert on enough of their plays to get first downs.”
Warrenton came out in familiar form, with senior quarterback Nolan Chmiel turning to his speed on a 66-yard touchdown burst up the sidelines, giving the Warriors a 7-0 lead with 4:31 remaining in the first quarter.
He finished with a team-high 94 yards on 10 carries.
Liberty answered early in the second period on a four-yard run, failing to covert its extra-point attempt. While Warrenton’s offense was unable to convert, its defense held strong, maintaining a 7-6 advantage into halftime.
“Going into halftime, we felt like it was ours,” said McDowell. “They saw some things we didn’t adjust to quickly. Then we started to make those adjustments and couldn’t get anything going offensively.”
Liberty pushed ahead 14-7 in the third period, while the Warriors came up empty.
“Those first two drives in the second half we went three-and-out,” said McDowell. “We really didn’t do anything with the ball until the fourth quarter.”
The final period saw more players reach pay dirt than the previous three periods combined.
The Eagles extended their lead to 21-7 early in the fourth, before Chmiel capped off a productive drive by connecting with sophomore Kolby Meine on a 15-yard touchdown pass.
“We were right back in it after that play,” said McDowell.
Liberty secured its victory on a three-yard run with 1:44 left, as the Warriors’ final desperation drive was picked off on a deep heave.
Chmiel completed seven of his 12 passing attempts on the night for 78 yards, throwing two interceptions.
“Our defense did a good job,” said McDowell. “My hat’s off to them. They played a good game and kept us in the ballgame.”
Senior Dylan Smith swarmed to the ball as the Warriors’ leading tackler, with 12 takedowns. Brett Smith’s efforts in the secondary kept Liberty’s passing in check, as the Eagles completed just three of 10 passing attempts.
“He did an outstanding job for us tonight,” said McDowell. “That’s the kind of corner he can play, and we can’t ask for much more than two interceptions in our opening game.”
TRAVELING TO TROY
The Warrenton football team looks to put its first notch in the win column this Friday, as the Warriors hit the road to face Troy.
Following a Week 1 setback in which the offense was limited to just over 200 yards, Coach Steve McDowell is hopeful the Warriors will be more productive in completing drives.
“With the weapons we’ve got, there’s no reason we shouldn’t be able to score more often,” said McDowell. “We can’t continue to rely on our defense, go three-and-out and keep them on the field.”
Troy narrowly escaped with a win to begin the season 1-0 after defeating Roosevelt 28-24. McDowell says he expects a similar option attack to that of Liberty in Week 1.
“They’re a good ball club and always present a challenge for us,” said McDowell. “We’ll have to make a few adjustments to better ourselves before then, based upon what we saw against Liberty.”
The Trojans relied heavily upon two running backs in Week 1, with Zach Collins scoring all four of their touchdowns. He finished with 124 yards, while Kendall Hutchison led Troy with 209 yards on 23 carries from the quarterback position. The Trojans looked to the air on just four occasions, completing one pass.
Defensively, Andrew Bergfeld led the way for Troy with nine tackles. Nick Bova also was a key contributor all around with an interception, fumble recovery and six tackles.
“They’re going to bring some talented weapons against us, so we’ve got to be ready,” said McDowell.
The Warriors included five players in their offensive distribution but were limited on explosive plays outside of a 66-yard breakaway touchdown by quarterback Nolan Chmiel. Warrenton did see the breakout of potential difference makers, with sophomore Kolby Meine scoring the second touchdown of the night and senior Brett Smith snagging two interceptions.