ACKERMAN – What a difference a year makes.
After losing to Ackerman twice last season in the Indians' run to the Class 2A state title game, East Webster rolled past their Region 2 rival on Friday with a lopsided 41-14 win.
"The two losses last year, we took that to our head," said East Webster fullback Timakis Bell. "All week, coach (Jimmy Carden) was mainly talking about how they beat us those two times last year and we couldn't let it happen a third time."
The result of Friday's contest was hardly ever in doubt.
Though Ackerman moved the ball into East Webster territory on the game's opening drive, the Indians fumbled to set the stage for the Wolverines.
Starting at their own 48-yard line, the Wolverines needed just two carries from Bell to put the first points of the night on the board.
The 240-pounder broke off a 32-yard run before crossing the goal-line on a 20-yard scamper to give his team a 6-0 lead.
On Ackerman's ensuing possession, things got worse for the homestanding Indians.
Punting from his own 43-yard line, Ackerman's Trent Furr's kick was blocked by East Webster's Terry Shaw. Josh Gladney then scooped the ball up for the Wolverines and took it all the way back for the score.
All told, East Webster (8-0, 2-0 in Region 2-2A) put up 21 first quarter points, leaving Ackerman reeling.
"We worked on them all week," said Ackerman head coach Adam Dillinger. "We worked on it, worked on it, worked on it, but when you play option teams, you've got to execute and take responsibilities and we didn't. That's a good football team. They run the triple-option like you are supposed to and all three of their options are a threat."
After building a 34-0 halftime lead, the Wolverines finally gave up points in the second half.
Ackerman (1-7, 0-2 in Region 2-2A) recovered an onside kick to begin the third quarter, setting up a 13-play, 47-yard drive capped on a 1-yard touchdown run by K.J. Woods.
In the losing effort, Woods was able to break off several big running plays for Ackerman in the second half, drawing praise from Dillinger.
"He ran hard," said Dillinger of Woods. "There in the second half, we got into something that we might have to keep doing because we moved the football. We ran the ball pretty fair on them, but we made mistakes. It's a fumble or a penalty or things like that and you can't ever do that against a good football team."
Woods finished with 155 rushing yards on 28 carries.
Moments after Woods' scoring run, East Webster answered when Ledrick Patterson hit Tyler Gregg for a 48-yard touchdown pass to give the Wolverines a 41-7 advantage.
Ackerman quarterback Dakota Brasher rounded out the scoring in the fourth quarter on a 3-yard keeper.
Still, it was much too little, much too late for the Indians who became East Webster's eighth straight victim to open the season.
Sitting pretty with a perfect overall and division record, Carden says there is very little time to relish the Wolverine's accomplishments at this point.
"We can only focus on doing what we do and doing it well," said Carden. "We work on that every day in practice. Sometimes you play to make yourself better, and that's what we do. That's why we practice every day, to get better. We don't want to stay in the middle, we want to move forward."
Making that process easier is Bell. Though he finished with just 60 yards rushing on Friday, Carden sees his senior as a hard-nosed runner who also serves as East Webster's kicker.
In the fourth quarter Friday, Bell just missed a 43-yard field goal, illustrating his overall value to the Wolverines.
"I've seen him hit a 55-yarder in practice before," said Carden. "But that's harder to do on the game field than in practice. He is a special athlete. He is the only guy I've ever had that size that can move like he does. It's nice to have."
Bell will lead East Webster into Hamilton next week as the Wolverines look to keep their undefeated season alive.
While he could very well have another strong performance next week, Bell indicated he is more than willing to share the spotlight as East Webster continues its run towards a region championship.
"We just remind each other during practices that there are no 'I's' here," said Bell. "We are a family. If one person feels down, we all feel down."