Wolves win 35-13, Andrews showdown looms

  • Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Dominic McKelvey/Special to The Independent Matt Gabel hauls in a touchdown pass against Cross. He is 3-0 since taking over at quarterback following the Wolves’ Sept. 27 loss to Berkeley.

It’s one week and one game at a time for the Timberland Wolves from here on out, for as long as 2013 lasts and as far as Art Craig and his Wolves advance.

“We don’t even belong on the same field as Dillon yet and we’re nowhere near in the position to talk about Dillon,” Craig said in response to the question that has followed him and the Timberland program around for past nine years.

What about Dillon?

“We have to play our game and let the rest take care of itself,” said Craig, who has won three straight since falling to Berkeley. “We’re getting better. We’re getting more physical.”

The Wolves beat arch-rival Dillon their only time in 2011 and went on to win the Class AA state championship.

Craig swapped out quarterbacks after the Sept. 27 loss to Berkeley, replacing junior Ryan Hood with senior Matt Gabel, who one year previously lost his quarterback job following a loss to the Stags.

“Matt took over at quarterback,” Craig said. “It wasn’t that Ryan wasn’t doing well, we had to get back to the type of game we played, more a running game, an option game, and Matt does that. We had to get back to some Old School kind of football where we simplified things for our offense.”

The Wolves downed Lake Marion 35-13 behind Bernard Harmon’s two touchdowns, one rushing and one receiving and 135 yards rushing on 21 carries to move to 3-0 in Region 7AA and 6-2 overall.

The win sets up a big showdown with Andrews for control in the region. The Yellow Jackets, under new coach Scott Durham are 2-1 in Region 7AA, losing their region opener 30-20 to Lee Central.

Craig said Durham has done a good job turning the Yellow Jackets’ football program around.

“Scott has worked hard with this team and they are playing with a lot of confidence right now,” he said. “Andrews is 6-2 and have been successful but we have to worry about our game and what we do. This is a big game. Whoever wins this game is going to have the upper hand in the region. Every team in this region is on an even keel.”

In addition to Harmon’s two TDs, quarterback Matt Gabel rushed for 75 yards on nine carries and 5-out of-7 passing for 86 yards and two touchdowns, one to Harmon and the other to Ryan Hood, who had swapped positions with Gabel, yet now lines up at tight end since Wyatt Craig has been lost for the season with a broken collarbone.

“Wyatt suffered a broken left collarbone and is out for the remainder of the season. He was our starting tight end and starting defensive end. He’ll be missed out there.”

The injury bug has bitten Timberland hard this season, with nagging bumps and bruises hindering the Wolves since Week One.

“We have not have had the same starting lineup yet because of injuries,” Craig said, but added his team was playing through it. “We’ve had some growing pains this year, and I think we understand what we need to do to be successful.”

He said, “These guys have to be their own team. We can’t rely on what other teams did in the past.”

Craig said his team is maturing as the season nears November and the playoffs. The goal is to play on Thanksgiving weekend, but the Wolves aren’t looking any farther ahead than Andrews on Friday.

“We’ve had some other seniors beside Bernard step up and provide some leadership, and that’s good,” Craig said. “Cody Wofford and Zeke Padgett have stepped it up. They’re doing their jobs and leading by example.

“It’s been a maturing process now,” he said. “We’ve simplified our offense in what we’re doing and getting back to basic Timberland football.”

One game, one week at a time, as long as they win, they’re in. No thoughts of Dillon.

Not yet.

And Timberland is just fine with that.

“It’s been a struggle this year. It’s a different team and a different year. We’ve had to coach a different way. We’ve had to play a different way. We’re playing better and we’re playing with better confidence.”

Kickoff against Andrews on Friday is at 7:30 p.m.

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