The Warrenton Warriors defeated Fort Zumwalt South in a Missouri high school football game to open the 2023 season.
A strong defensive performance and timely offensive scoring drives helped Warrenton win their season opener against Ft. Zumwalt South Friday night.
Warrenton (1-0) beat the Bulldogs (0-1) 22-16 to win their season opening game for the first time in six years. One year after surrendering over 40 points in Warrenton’s 41-12 loss to the Bulldogs, the Warrior defense surrendered two touchdowns and one field goal over the course of the game.
“The key to the win was really our defense,” Warrenton head football coach Jason Koper said. “Our defense had a ton of big stops.”
Koper said while the Warrenton offense did not execute well and made a lot of mistakes over the course of the game, they came through when the Warriors needed them Friday night. This included a quick touchdown drive after Ft. Zumwalt South took a 16-14 lead in the fourth quarter. Quarterback Charlie Blondin connected with Peyton Dawson for a 47-yard pass and Mason Thompson for 32 yards to put Warrenton on the 1-yard line.
Junior running back Austin Haas put the Warriors back on top with a touchdown run from one yard out.
“We had big plays like that that spelled us … It was really a lot of mistakes with big plays followed up that saved us in the game,” Koper said.
Koper thinks the Warriors had opportunities in the first half to extend their lead to multiple scores but they were not able to execute. He referenced their seven drops on offense, including one drop that could have resulted in a touchdown. He said he is happy with the win, stating Ft. Zumwalt South is a good football team.
He also credited the Warriors for dealing with not only a strong opponent on the other side of the field, but also with the heat throughout the game.
“I am incredibly proud of the way our guys played through the heat,” Koper said. “That was as tough of circumstances as I ever remember seeing in a high school football game. So I’m proud of them. And I’m hoping a lot of our mistakes were just attributed to the fact that it was so hot.”
Koper thinks the win shows how much better Warrenton is on the football field this season. He referenced the touchdown drive to reclaim the lead in the fourth quarter, stating if they got in that situation last season, they probably would have lost the game. The fourth quarter comeback gave Koper hope for the rest of the season of where the Warriors could end up if they continue to make improvements on the football field. While they have a lot of improvements to make, Koper said Warrenton is “definitely on the right track.”
Offensively, Blondin threw for 263 yards and 1 touchdown on 28 pass attempts. Mason Thompson led Warrenton with 97 yards receiving. Chance McPike hauled in three catches for 72 yards and Dawson added two catches for 56 yards. Haas led Warrenton with 44 yards rushing on 16 attempts. Blondin, Haas and McPike each rushed for one touchdown.
Warrenton’s Brandon Johnson and Kadin Stroer finished tied for the team lead with 11 tackles. Joe Goldsmith, McKyi Owens and Carter Tittel each had one sack. Brody Reel registered a fumble recovery.
Warrenton is slated to host Washington at 7 p.m. Aug. 31.
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