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Wall advances in first round of playoffs


WALL—North Central was a good first round playoff opponent for the undefeated 9A Wall Eagles. They had good size up front but had struggled at times in the season, and they would seriously struggle against the Eagles, bowing in the end, by mercy rule, 56-6.

There was no facet of the game that Wall neglected. They ran on North Central, passed on North Central, they shut down the run, and they shut down the pass, and they even did something they had not tried this season—they attempted a field goal.

The score at the time was 48-0, so a field goal would end the game at 51-0. At some point, against tougher East River competition, Wall may be forced to kick a field goal, and Head Coach Lex Heathershaw has a fine kicker in junior Blair Blasius. On several kick offs against North Central, there could be no return as Blasius booted the ball into the end zone.

Wall’s Cedar Amiotte takes a handoff for a gain against the North Central defense. (Photo by James Giago Davies)

“It’s nice to have a kid who can kick it to the end zone,” Heathershaw said. “Blair has been my kicker since his 8th Grade year, so this is his fourth year as a kicker. He had the field goal blocked, but I think if it wasn’t blocked, he’s good from 40-plus.”

North Central’s block of the punt was one of two highlights in an otherwise forgettable game for them. Blaisus said the block “came from a hole in our right side. They brought a blitz, and they just came through and blocked it.”

All night long, Heathershaw gave the leg of Blasius a workout, as he went for PATs and not two-point conversions. Wall wasn’t just interested in winning the game, they were using the game to prepare themselves for tougher, tighter games, against a team where the likelihood of scoring a PAT is far less than converting a PAT, which is every playoff team they will next face from this point on.

The other North Central highlight came right after the blocked punt, the ball rolled toward the end zone, but it stopped before touching the goal line. Wall players had exited the field and were huddling with Coach Heathershaw. Ashton Hartling, a 6-3, 180 lbs. senior, put on his thinking cap, and scooped up the ball and bolted back up field. Wall flooded back onto the field, as many as fifteen players, but Hartling was twenty yards gone from any defender and grabbed himself a heads-up TD.

All of that forced the teams to come back out for a second half, the score 48-6, and Wall now needing eight points to end it all, so if they did score, they would probably go for the two-point conversion. North Central got the ball first, and punter Pablo Fernandez, eluding Wall pressure, attempted to run the ball, but was tackled at his 16, and Wall took over. On the first play Cedar Amiotte ran for a TD. On the next play quarterback Burk Blasius ran in the two-point conversion, and the game was over, 56-6.

Highlights for Wall included exciting cutback TD runs by Mason Heath and Amiotte, and great run defense by the whole team, but particularly Heath and Amiotte. There was a picture-perfect over-the-shoulder TD catch by Strand Williams on a beautifully timed spiral from Burk Blasius.

“I told coach number 9 is cheating me on that post,” Williams said, “I didn’t think I was going to catch it at first because it was pretty high up there.”

“It looked like his defender was going to play a little further off,” Burk Blasius said. “I went back to Strand, and he’s a good wide receiver, so I knew Strand was gonna get past him in a one-on-one situation, so I threw it up to him and he was able to run under it and catch it.”

Number 9 for North Central is Levi Sharp, the starting running back, but only a freshman, and he struggled all night, but bears mention because he gave all he had to every job he was assigned. This best describes the entire Wall team.

“We are not the biggest or the strongest team, and we know that,” Blair Blasius said. “So, we kinda play into our suit of being fast and quick and hard hitters.”

“Kinda comes down to a do your job type of deal” Burk Blaisus said.

To this point in the season, every player on the Wall Eagles is doing his job.

(Contact James Giago Davies at skindiesel@msn.com)

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