A sold-out crowd, a couple of speedy, hard-running quarterbacks trading punches, and a back-and-forth game in which both sides left it all on the field — Whale Branch’s 33-21 win over visiting Battery Creek on Friday was everything you want a local high school football rivalry to be, especially for the undefeated Warriors.
Jaylen Reeves rushed for three touchdowns, recovered a fumble that set up a score, and picked off a pass to seal the win for the Warriors, who will try to finish off an undefeated regular season at home against Estill next week.
It took a while for Reeves and the Warriors to get rolling, as Battery Creek’s defense showed up ready for the challenge. The Dolphins stymied the Warriors early and forced a fumble to end a promising drive before Reeves stripped the ball to set up the first of two Henry Tome 36-yard field goals that gave Whale Branch a 6-0 lead.
Battery Creek’s Jacove Anderson capped off an impressive drive with a 1-yard sneak to put Battery Creek ahead 7-6, but Reeves responded with a 60-yard TD run on the next offensive play to make it 13-7 at halftime.
Anderson landed another haymaker for the Dolphins with a 55-yard TD run to open the second half, but that was the last time Battery Creek led, as Reeves and Co. found their footing behind a strong offensive line.
“We started off kinda shaky, but the fellas woke up and we got it going,” Reeves said. “The ground game is us, and we kept it pushing in the second half.”
The Dolphins were focused on slowing down Reeves, so the Warriors adjusted and brought in Tome at quarterback for their first series of the second half. He completed a couple of key passes to set up a powerful run from Jadon Grant that put the Warriors ahead for good.
After Reeves’ second TD run of the night, Jaeon Allen gave the Dolphins life with a kickoff return for a touchdown, but Battery Creek couldn’t stop the Warriors down the stretch. Reeves found the end zone again to restore the two-score margin, then intercepted Anderson and returned it inside the 10 to put Whale Branch in victory formation.
The Warriors will try to match the longest win streak in program history and cap off their first perfect regular season at home against Estill next week.
“They’ve got a lot of things to play for next week,” Hatcher said. “We’ve been in some tight games. That was the third tight game we’ve found a way to win.”
Story and photos by Justin Jarrett