Stratford defensive coordinator Joe Marion didn’t have to remind his veteran group too much about the Knights’ recent history against Wando.
They had already lived through it and took on the attitude that Friday night was going to be different after a dialed-in week of practice.
“They knew we gave up a lot of points last year and got upset the year before,” Marion said. “Our defense prepared hard all week long. They went into the game ready to play.”
And the final result was a 35-7 homecoming victory that snapped a two-game losing skid against the Warriors. Marion’s defense stymied Wando all night, especially in the first half when the Knights built a 21-0 lead, virtually assuring there would be no repeat of last fall’s 42-7 lashing in Mount Pleasant.
Stratford moved to 8-0 and limited the Warriors to 29 yards of total offense in the opening two quarters a week after Wando running back Kenny Waring topped the 200-yard mark and scored five touchdowns in a 38-32 win over West Ashley, Stratford’s next opponent.
“If you stop the run in high school football, you’ll win the game,” Marion said. “I still believe that and that’s the way we play.”
Waring had just 24 yards rushing and two catches for 87 yards, 64 of which came on an essentially meaningless play in the second half against the backups with Stratford up 35-7.
“I’m hoping we’re beginning to play defensively like we anticipated when the season began,” Stratford coach Ray Stackley said. “In our league, you’ve got to play good defense. We’ve got seven starters back. We did a good job against the run and pass the whole game.”
Waring plunged in from the 1 on the second play of the final quarter to help Wando avoid the shutout. But the damage was already done, with Stratford leading 28-0 before the score.
Wando got close to scoring again in the last quarter but Knights safety Taylor Morrison picked off a pass in the end zone with just over three minutes left to preserve the final margin of victory.
Running back Jameak Jones rushed for 80 yards and scored twice to help the Knights out to that sizable advantage. He showed his shiftiness on a couple of carries, scoring on runs of 18 and 19 yards.
“He’s a young man we’re getting into the mix a little bit more,” Stratford offensive coordinator Dennie McDaniel said. “He had a great week of practice and we felt like he could ignite us.”
On both of his touchdown runs, Jones shook free from defenders and bounced it outside after getting into the second level.
“We’ve seen that in practice,” McDaniel said.
Stratford’s all-American quarterback Jacob Park was 18 of 25 for 211 yards and a 13-yard touchdown pass to Tyree Scroggins before giving way to backup Jamison Mobbs.
Mobbs capped the scoring with a 21-yard touchdown strike to Thad Thompson in the fourth quarter and the Knights sailed past the 400-yard mark in total offense.
Jordan Johnson chipped in 52 yards and scored the Knights’ third touchdown of the game on a 3-yard run, making it 21-0 in the second quarter.
Stratford travels to West Ashley for an encounter with the much-improved Wildcats, who smoked Conway 49-14 on Friday.
They are 5-3 under Bobby Marion, a former offensive coordinator at Stratford and brother of current Knights defensive coordinator.
“They are very good,” Joe Marion said. “They’re a lot better than they’ve played recently. We’re going to have to play hard on defense. They run about 100 different formations and come right at you.”
McDaniel said West Ashley is aggressive on the other side of the ball too.
“No doubt it’s a big region game for us,” he said. “Our goal is to win the region championship first. They like to get up in your face and get after it. It’s a great challenge for us.”