There might be something a little silly, or at least presumptuous, about a school like West Plains High, which has only been open six weeks, to be hosting a Homecoming game.
But so far such audacity has appeared to have paid off for the Wolves, who might actually be ahead of schedule.
A week after scoring the first victory in program history, they returned home to face Lubbock Estacado in a celebration date Thursday night at Happy State Bank Stadium despite not having any alumni. It was West Plains, though, which looked to be more seasoned, as the Wolves jumped on Estacado early and rolled to a 35-14 win for their first homefield victory to send notice to their future opponents.
West Plains (2-3) beat Palo Duro 28-26 at Dick Bivins Stadium a week earlier for that historic first win. The Wolves proved that wasn’t a fluke in pounding Estacado (2-3).
“I think last week gave us some confidence obviously,” West Plains coach Adam Cummings said. “PD is a good team and Estacado’s a good team. I think when we execute at a high level we’re a good team. I think our kids are starting to figure that out and hopefully continue to build on the success we’ve had.”
West Plains seemed determined to be taken seriously from the outset against Estacado. The Wolves thoroughly dominated in the first half to take a 21-0 halftime lead.
They set the tone offensively on their first drive after the opening kickoff when freshman quarterback Reid Macon hit Trae Ferril for a 22-yard gain on a third-and-21 for a first down. Macon ended the drive with the first of his four scoring passes, hitting Crockett Henry from 7 yards out for a 7-0 lead.
Midway through the second quarter, the Wolves extended the lead to 14-0 when Jordi Hernandez scored on a 6-yard run. Hernandez set a school record with 160 yards on 36 carries.
The first half was almost perfectly balanced for West Plains offensively as the Wolves almost evenly split their 216 total yards with 107 yards rushing and 109 passing. If the Wolves planned on sneaking up on their opponents offensively, their covers now blown.
“We give credits to our kids, but the reality is it was never in our plan to be a first-year 0-10 team,” Cummings said. “It was our plan to be successful immediately. There’s a lot of people who doubted that, but we didn’t as coaches and players and we didn’t as a community. We expected to be good from day one and our kids have bought into that and believe in it.”
With 18 seconds left in the half, the Wolves went up 21-0 when Macon hit Ferril from 9 yards out in the back corner of the end zone. It was the first of two scoring passes from Macon to Ferril.
For the second straight game, Macon put up stellar statistics. Except for an interception early in the second half, Macon was nearly flawless, completing 17-of-27 passes for 213 yards.
“(Cummings) always says to get one percent better each week and our whole team’s been getting one percent better,” Macon said. “This week we took a big step. I think I can go to anyone. I trust all my teammates as well as they trust me. All my receivers are doing their jobs and I’m putting the ball on them and they’re making plays.”
West Plains was just as dominant defensively as well, especially in the first half. Estacado gained a mere 57 yards of offense on the Wolves.
The Matadors looked as if they could make a game of it when they took the second half kickoff and went in for a score on a 28-yard run by Cedric Ross to cut it to 21-7. On the ensuing possession, Macon threw his only bad pass of the game, which Estacado’s Raheem Ross intercepted in West Plains territory.
But West Plains held Estacado on downs and grabbed back some momentum, and the Matadors never seriously threatened the rest of the way.