The team’s biggest question mark coming into the season made a big statement on Friday night as they paved the way for 306 rushing yards in a 46-26 win over rival Fort Edward.
“We really pushed tonight,” said junior offensive lineman Brandon Steves. “We did what we had to do to win.”
Josh Hoagland ran for 161 yards on 27 carries and scored four rushing touchdowns. He also connected with Paxton DeLorme on a 44-yard touchdown pass.
Justin Hoagland ran for 82 yards on four carries, scoring on touchdown runs of 23 and 33 yards, and completed four passes for 83 yards, and Carl Rehm broke off two long runs for a total of 56 yards.
“The game plan coming in was ground and pound and the offensive line came out and executed,” said Josh Hoagland. “We got unbelievable push from the line. I can’t say enough about those guys. They deserve all the credit”
The offensive line’s ability to create space and open holes helped the team overcome a big game from Fort Edward’s Dylan White, who rushed for 187 yards on 29 carries and scored three touchdowns.
“This was a great win and a big monkey off our backs. Fort Edward has really had our number; they’ve beat us eight of the last nine times. They’re always physical. It doesn’t matter if they come with 17 guys or 30, they always play tough,” said head coach Justin Culligan.
“This was a big win. It was an important game for sectionals and it gives us a game and half lead on them in the division”
Whitehall (1-0, 2-2) Lake George (1-0, 1-3) and Warrensburg (1-0, 2-2) sit atop the Class D North Division with identical 1-0 records while Salem (0-1, 1-3), Fort Edward (0-1, 2-2) and Hoosic Valley (0-1, 1-3) fall behind. The top two teams in the division earn postseason berths.
The Railroaders will look to improve on their record when they face Hoosic Valley, who are playing in Class D after struggling at Class C for the past several years.
The Indians managed only 45 yards of total offense in a 28-0 loss to Lake George last weekend.
Culligan said the Indians like to run a lot of isolation rushes and will occasionally pass the ball.
If Whitehall replicates the success it had in the first half against Fort Edward they should put themselves in position to pick up their third win of the season.
The Railroaders scored 22 unanswered points to open the game and Fort Edward didn’t score until more than 11 minutes into the second quarter.
Josh Hoagland scored on runs of two and three yards in the first quarter and hooked up with a wide-open DeLorme on a reverse halfback option with four minutes left in the half to go up 22-0.
Josh and Justin Hoagland alternated touchdown runs in the second half with each scoring a touchdown in the third and fourth quarters.
Defensively, Whitehall was able to limit Fort Edward to only 21 passing yards. Senior linebacker John Diekel had a monster game with 16 tackles, Steves finished with 10 tackles, Brandon Donaldson recorded seven tackles, and Ryan Putorti intercepted his first varsity pass.
“Our defense played phenomenal. We’ve been working on our zone coverage, getting our safeties and cornerbacks to turn their head and find the ball and it really paid off,” Culligan said.
“They played with a lot of heart.”
The Railroaders will host Hoosic Valley in its annual homecoming game at 1 p.m. at Ambrose Gilligan Field.