High School Sports

Special-team play ignites Vance win

Vance’s offensive playbook will have to wait a week for an extended workout.

The Cougars’ special teams and weather made a short night for Vance in a 32-0 MECKA 4A win against Hopewell on Friday, which ensured the Cougars (8-2, 5-1) at least a share of second place going into the season finale against Hough.

A halftime lightning storm forced a long delay before the coaches agreed to let the result stand.

“We want didn’t want to pull a (San Antonio Spurs coach) Gregg Popovich situation where we were resting guys and holding guys back, waiting on something like I thought we did last week against North Meck,” Cougars coach Aaron Brand said. “We wanted to come out on fire with all hands on deck.”

Vance’s special teams were spectacular, converting a pair of blocked punts and a fumbled kickoff into touchdowns. John Adam’s 19-yard fumble return on the opening kickoff staked the Cougars to a 7-0 lead.

Jordan Beatty blocked a Hopewell punt that Myles Dorn scooped up for a 14-yard return and a 26-0 lead while Anthony Butler’s punt block paved the way for Omar Baker’s 7-yard pass to Dorn for the final margin.

“I’ve got 700 plays on the offensive sheet that I was waiting to call and then they go and score on special teams,” Brand said. “It was great for them; it was bad for me. I want to call some plays and get the offense into a rhythm, but at this point in the season, we’ll take the points any way we can get them.”

When Vance took possession on offense, the Cougars were efficient. Baker completed 12 of 15 passes for 135 yards and a touchdown in addition to a 2-yard scoring run. Vance ran for 45 yards on 10 carries, but with superior field position due to the special teams and defense, the Cougars didn’t have to go as far.

“Hopewell has a really athletic team, but they were just no match for us tonight,” Brand said. I don’t know if anybody, with the enthusiasm we had and effort we gave tonight, would’ve been a match for us tonight.”

Vance was strong defensively, holding Hopewell (2-8, 1-5) to 37 yards total offense, including 17 yards passing. With the postseason looming, Brand is looking to get more out of the Cougars, starting next week against Hough with nothing less than the conference’s second seed at stake.

“We still haven’t played a great game yet,” he said. “We’ve had some great moments and we’ve had some great spurts, but we’ve still got to put it all together, and once we put it all together, we’re going to be a tough out.”