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Owen hopes to take momentum into playoffs

Warhorses excited about chances in 2-A opener against No. 12 Draughn


10:59 PM, Oct. 31, 2012 EDT

Jager Gardner

SWANNANOA — 

One game is all it took to get the Owen football team excited about its playoff chances.

The Warhorses (5-6) had been outscored, 69-28, in three straight losses in the Western Highlands Conference before racking up 486 rushing yards in Friday's 64-12 rout of Thomas Jefferson.

Three players went over 100 yards on Senior Night for Owen -- Cole Leighton (137 yards), Jager Gardner (132) and Tyler White (121).

Gardner (1,272 yards, 13 touchdowns) is a sophomore who was converted from a receiver to a running back earlier this season.

"We got to share the wealth, and it was a really good thing to see," Warhorses coach Kenny Ford said. "Our kids set a goal the other night that they wanted to go out there and have 400 total yards of offense. And by gosh, they went out and got it."

Owen hopes its running game can put forth another stampede Friday in its NCHSAA 2-A playoff opener at No. 12 Draughn (5-6). The 13th-seeded Warhorses have won just one first-round playoff game in the past five years.

But hopes are high with Sam Drummond (407 yards and five touchdowns with nine interceptions) handing off to Gardner, Leighton (584 yards, seven touchdowns) and White (580 yards, seven touchdowns).

Caleb Chandler, Quentin Carver, Grant Dickerson, Mason Eades, Taylor Earley, Jose Garcia and Adam Tomberlin are the offensive linemen who have primarily done the blocking.

Defensive leaders are Adam Lunsford (8.7 tackles a game), Eddy Slye (7.6), White (6.7) and Leighton (5.9).

"We're really excited after the Thomas Jefferson game," Leighton said.

"We came out and were really physical. I think that's the best game we've played all year. Now, we're just trying to feed off of it. We don't want to miss a beat. The playoffs are a special time of the year, you can smell it in the air."

Chandler said the team as a whole has gained confidence that it can make a playoff run.

"There's just a different energy flowing through the locker room," Chandler said. "Everyone is excited. From where I sit, these next couple of games are definitely games we can win."

Ford said Draughn runs the triple option offense, which means Friday's game could be a quick one with plenty of carries from both teams.

"They do what they do, and they do it well," Ford said.

"They're going to come right at us with a 250-pound fullback, and we've got to make sure we stop him. The good thing is their school is at the bottom of the mountain. So with it being that close, we can keep our routine the same. We want to make it special for the kids."

 

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