J osh Hoagland could barely control his excitement moments after Friday’s home-opener at Ambrose Gilligan field.
The junior tailback had just wrapped up a dominating 21 carry, 244 yard, two-touchdown performance that helped the Railroaders improve to 2-0 on the young season.
Hoagland had touchdowns of 71 and 57 yards and senior end Brett Christian added two scores of his own to leadWhitehallto a convincing 30-0 victory over the Lake George Warriors in an important match-up of two Class D teams.
“This was big, we’re 2-0,” Hoagland said afterwards, unable to hold back a smile. “We played physical and came out and hit people. When you play physical, good things happen.”
The team understands that it’s physicality-they’ve run for 604 yards and have yet to surrender a point on defense in two games-will be the key this Saturday when the travel to Warrensburg to a winless Burghers teams.
“We’ll need to line and by physical,” head coach Justin Culligan said. “Warrensburg is very similar to us. They run a double wing and run a 46 defense just like us.”
Warrensburg is 0-2 after losing its season opener to Fort Edward, 36-14, and falling to Salem, 26-6, on Saturday.
Although the season is very young, Saturday’s game is an opportunity forWhitehallto build on the momentum they’ve generated in the season’s first two weeks before they prepare for a tough stretch of games againstFortEdwardandRensselaer.
Like they have the first two weeks, Whitehall will rely on running attack of Hoagland and senior fullback Codie Bascue to carry the offense against a Warrensburg team has been exposed against the run, allowing nearly 700 rushing yards in its first two games.
On Saturday, Warrensburg surrendered 400 rushing yards toSalemand allowed three different runners to go over the century mark. They also gave up nearly 300 yards on the ground toFortEdward.
Despite their defensive shortcomings, the Burghers do possess some offensive weapons of their own.
The two headed attack of Lucas Nelson and Jeremy Barber combined for 127 yards and a touchdown on only 20 carries againstSalemon Saturday and each ran for more than a hundred yards againstFortEdward.
They also displayed an efficient passing game againstSalem, completing seven of 10 passes for 75 yards.
“We have to come every day and practice hard. We can’t take any one for granted,” Hoagland said.
IfWhitehallplays with the same never-give-up effort they displayed on Friday night, they should be successful again this Saturday.
“Tonight was all about second efforts; that was the key to the game. We had second efforts on runs, we had second effort on tackles,” Culligan said.
Friday’s game initially appeared it was going to be a defensive game as both teams held one another mostly in check through the first eight minutes of the first quarter.
But following a short punt by Lake George, Whitehall took over deep in the Warrior’s territory and after a few running plays, freshmen quarterback Justin Hoagland rolled out and hit Christian in the corner of the end zone for games first score and a 6-0 lead.
A key moment in the game occurred in the second quarter when Wes Porter sackedLake Georgequarterback Willie Blunt, knocking him out of the game. A few moments later, Lee McCabe, a stalwart on the Warrior’s defensive line, went down with an injury of their own.
Several plays later, Hoagland take an outside handoff up the left sideline for 71 scoring touchdown and Bascue ran it in from two yards on the ensuing point after attempt out to give Whitehall a 14-0 lead at halftime.
Whatever wind was left in the Warrior’s sails was completely wiped out on the second play of the second half.
On the play, Lake George defenders burst through the line and quarterback Justin Hoagland was just barely able to hand the ball off to his brother who appeared to be stopped for a minimal gain.
But Hoagland kept moving his feet, ripping and spinning his way through arm tackles and emerged from a swarm ofLake Georgedefenders and sprinted downfield for a 57 yard touchdown.
Whitehallwould add another score midway through the fourth quarter on a 14 yard end around by Christian for a 30-0 lead.
The score could have been worse for Lake George that if was if not for a illegal procedure penalty that wiped out a long run inside the five yard by Hoagland and an interception in the red zone.
The victory was the first againstWhitehallsince 1998 and only the second since 1986. But more importantly the win improvedWhitehallto 2-0 for the first time in recent memory.
Afterwards Culligan credited the conditioning work of Coach Dick Gould and Neil Hughes defense for the victory.
“Our defense has been phenomenal. Coach Hughes is doing a great job,” Culligan said.
That defense has only allowed 136 yards in two games and has yet to surrender a score.
This weekend’s game at Warrensburg begins at1 p.m.