By Brandon Barb
After a 76-40 loss to Thurgood Marshall on Nov. 8, the Western Brown Broncos’ year came to a close.
It was a bittersweet end for the Broncos, seeing how they went undefeated in the regular season for only the third time in school history and hosted the first home playoff game in school history.
“I’m proud of how hard they worked and how they improved each week. It wasn’t the final ending we all dream of but the biggest thing is they laid the foundation of how hard they have to work for the future,” Western Brown Head Coach Evan Dreyer said.
The game itself was full of offensive flourishes. The Thurgood Cougars kept the Broncos defense guessing with their option runs, and Western aired it out like they have all year.
Western Brown senior quarterback Devyn Wood completed 43 of his 64 passes for 511 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. He also ran for three touchdowns.
In the early minutes, the Broncos came out hot and scored the first touchdown — much to the delight of the packed home section — making it 6-0 after a blocked extra point, but the Cougars’ speed was overwhelming at times. Thurgood scored three touchdowns before the Broncos were able to get in the end zone again, putting the score to 22-14 — the Cougars were successful at a two point conversion.
That was the pattern for the game. Western Brown would score once, and Thurgood would answer with two or three touchdowns. Every time the Broncos started to gain momentum the wind was taken out of their sails.
“You can’t really simulate the speed. All week we tried to but offensively we couldn’t match that in practice. We knew that was going to be the challenge. As a program we hadn’t seen real speed, and that was real speed from Thurgood,” Dreyer said.
He continued, “Defensively its hard to prepare for a team like that. Throughout our first 10 games we hadn’t seen an offense like that. We did get two stops, and yeah they put up 76, we just hadn’t faced that talent throughout the year. The kids got a good sign of what level you have to be at.”
It wasn’t a lack of offense though. The Broncos were still able to gain as many yards like they have all year.
Western Brown sophomore Eean Hornung caught 13 passes for 165 yards. Senior Jarred haggerty had 10 receptions, 137 yards and one touchdown. And junior Chaz Patten gained 70 yards and one touchdown.
“It was back and forth. We were going score for score and we thought that’s the way the game would go. Going into half-time 43-25 we still had a chance, they [Thurgood] just played really well on offense,” Dreyer said. “Our kids took the challenge and to score 40 points on a team that didn’t allow any points in the last three weeks means a lot. Our kids played with great effort for 48 minutes we just had a lot of missed opportunities.”
The Broncos were stopped on a crucial fourth down play early on, and then were stopped on the goal line after driving on the Cougars.
“Some people said it should have been 75-56, and I think that is true,” Dreyer said. “The game was closer than what the score shows. That’s a cliche, but we had opportunities to do it we just missed some of them.”
Injuries were a problem for the Broncos throughout the game. Junior linebacker Josh Young was taken out before halftime with a knee injury, senior David Ellis suffered a concussion late in the game, Patten was sidelined with a back injury, senior Derrick McIntosh played through the second half with a hurt ankle, and towards the end of the game Wood re-injured his throwing shoulder — which was hurt during the win over Amelia.
“The physicality and speed they played at was a playoff caliber team. We weren’t used to that,” Dreyer said.
As the offseason begins for Western Brown football there is a lot to reflect on. The program took another step toward that first playoff win, and they hope to build on that next year.
“The seniors have to realize they took another step for the program. The first playoff victory is still out there, and that’s what we are going to be gunning for,” Dreyer said.