BY RAY SCHAEFER
THE DAILY INDEPENDENT
VANCEBURG Russell’s offense was as balanced as the diet you should eat every day.
Whatever protein, fruits, vegetables, fats, fiber and lots of water the Red Devils consumed Friday went to good use. They mercy- ruled Lewis County, 52-8, in part behind Nathan Conley’s eight carries for 120 yards.
Russell improved to 4-4 overall and 3-1 in Class 3A, District 5 with a performance as harmonious as Yo-Yo Ma with a cello: 11 running backs touched the ball; five Red Devils scored at least one touchdown (Landen Duvall had two); defensive back Bobby Hale took an interception 67 yards for a score; and the defense limited the Lions to just 54 rushing yards.
All in all, Friday was as gridiron-nutritious as Russell coach T.J. Maynard wanted, and not just because the Red Devils gained 377 yards of offense to the Lions’ 190.
“I was really happy that our varsity guys went out and took care of business early so that we could get some freshmen and our JV and our sophomores in there and give them an opportunity to experience a Friday night,” Maynard said.
What was more, Russell quarterback Austin Church’s 100 passing yards gave him a school career record. He now possesses 2,588 through the air, 25 more than Jacob McKee.
“I really don’t care if I get records,” Church said. “My only goal is to win games. (It’s) just a trophy on the shelf, I guess.”
Lewis County’s scoring chances mostly broke down.
After Russell’s Grant Bates’ 9-yard run opened the scoring with 6:22 left in the first quarter, an illegal procedure penalty on the Lions turned makeable fourth-and-4 and the Russell 38 into a fourth-and-9 punt. Six plays later, Conley scored from a yard out.
Later in the first, Austin Braden sacked Lehn for an 8-yard loss. Duvall scored from 11 yards out three snaps later.
But Hale’s pick was maybe the most stomachturning because it came with just 21.9 seconds before intermission.
“My coaches told me to scoot up on the hitch,” said Hale, referring to a play in which a receiver runs a few yards, turns around and stops. “As soon as I’d seen (the receiver) take the first step and stay there, I just bit on the hitch and had the ball in my hands.”
Duvall’s 31-yard touchdown catch from Church set the record. It began as a simple 3-yard down-and-in.
“I was the closest back to the line,” Duvall said. “I’d go up 3 yards and turn right. It was right in my face and I caught it. I found a line and took it and scored.”