STANARDSVILLE — Early season records can be deceiving.
Just ask William Monroe football coach Jon Rocha.
The Greene Dragons opened the season by facing the three top programs in the Shenandoah Valley and managed to average just seven points a game as they started the season with an 0-3 record.
On Friday night, Rocha’s team found their rhythm, scoring six rushing touchdowns en route to a 54-21 victory over rival Madison County.
Dupree Rucker carried 25 times for 225 yards and a pair of touchdowns as William Monroe extended its winning streak against Madison County to seven straight.
“Playing three hard teams, I feel like it helped make us better,” Rucker said. “We all did our job, we all blocked and I’m just happy we won. It all starts with the line up front and they did a phenomenal job.”
Rucker set the tone early on with a score on the Dragons’ first possession. Following a big defensive stand, the senior running back carried seven straight times for 39 yards, including a one-yard run into the end zone for a 7-0 lead with 7:00 left in the first quarter.
Special teams did their part as a 20-yard punt return from Jeremy Savoie set up the next score. The Greene Dragons cashed in as QB Jared Knights hit Evan Wagner on a 5-yard drag route and the senior tight end rumbled 20 more yards for a touchdown and a 14-0 lead.
Madison County (0-3) got on the board in the second quarter when fullback Jordan Morris scored from six yards out to trim the lead to 14-6 with 11:18 left in the half. The scoring play was set up by Jeremey Fox’s 25-yard completion to Sam Estes.
The momentum would be short-lived for MCHS, as Monroe fullback Philip Shifflett plowed his way in for a six-yard touchdown to extend the WMHS lead to 20-6 at intermission.
Madison County coach Jon Rasnick gave his team life early in the third quarter by calling for an onside kick to start the second half.
The Mountaineers recovered, but were unable to capitalize on the good field position and turned the ball over on downs.
The Greene Dragons responded with three straight touchdowns in the quarter to put the game out of reach. Logan Barbour made a great leaping catch on a 14-yard touchdown strike from Knights to give his team a 26-6 lead.
After another defensive stop, Rucker raced 22 yards for his second touchdown of the game to extend the lead to 33-6 with 5:12 left in the third. Savoie got into the act when he raced 47 yards to pay dirt on his first carry of the game to build a 40-6 lead with less than four minutes left in the third quarter.
Shifflett scored his second rushing touchdown in the fourth quarter and Michael McCauley added another scoring run for William Monroe.
Madison County turned in some big scoring plays of its own. Jack Bourdon returned a kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter, and Estes added a 71-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.
Rocha couldn’t be prouder of his team’s performance.
“You go from averaging seven points a game to putting up 54 is amazing,” Rocha said. “The first three teams that we faced were all undefeated and they’re going to remain undefeated. They were tough and people need to realize that. We’re trying to put a new quarterback in there, it’s taken some time for him to learn it and the offensive line to learn it, but tonight was good for us.”
Rucker anchored an offense that racked up more than 370 yards on the ground.
“He brings everything,” Rocha said of his running back. “When he works and he functions, our quarterback can function, you’re not getting that constant pressure, when you can get outside and up the middle. He brings everything for us and he always has. There’s a reason why he’s all-district, the speed and his moves, and he’s a leader. The kids rally around him and they love him.”
For Rocha, who admitted he went winless against Madison County as a player, this game is always special.
“This win was huge,” Rocha said. “You would think that this was a Louisa or something, we packed the house. It’s Madison and it’s Monroe and it’s always going to be huge. Everything is cyclical and right now we’re riding it and right now we’ll take the ride.”