PREP FOOTBALL: West Point overcomes slow start, soars past Good Hope for 49-32 victory

Aug. 26—GOOD HOPE — West Point coach Don Farley needed just one word to explain how his group pulled out its season-opening triumph.

"Fortitude," said the longtime Warriors coach, whose team indeed displayed its resiliency Friday night at James W. Shabel Stadium.

Hunter Hensley accounted for five total touchdowns, Ollie Howell and Garit Roberson each reeled off scoring runs, and the Maroon and White overcame a daunting deficit early to surge past Good Hope and secure a 49-32 road win.

"We preached toughness all summer," said Farley, who picked up his 50th victory at West Point. "We dug ourselves a hole right out of the gate with a pick-six and a fumble on a kickoff return. That led to 14 points for them. But we just told our guys to keep playing. It's a long game ... let's take it one play at a time."

It certainly looked to be the start of a long night for the Warriors as Good Hope quickly amassed a 20-0 lead in the opening quarter.

Colten Whatley sandwiched a pair of touchdown tosses to Tucker Malin (11 and 33 yards) around a Hank Hudson interception that the junior took to the house after jumping a route.

West Point, though, found its footing in the second period.

Following an Eli Sims interception, Hensley put the Warriors on the board with a 44-yard touchdown pass to Noah Bryan.

Farley's defense then forced a three-and-out and Roberson made it 20-14 on the next offensive snap following a 50-yard scamper.

"Going into the second half, we all had our minds made up about what we wanted to do," Hensley said. "We had a few bad plays that went wrong and we played one of the worst first halves that we could play — but we were only down by six points. We knew we had a lot more to show after halftime. We came out in the second half and showed them who we really were."

The Warriors indeed did just that.

Tyler Cone, though, first punctuated a 10-play drive with a 1-yard scoring plunge to put the Raiders ahead 26-14, but it was all Warriors from that point onward.

Howell quickly made it a one-possession game with a 41-yard touchdown run before JD Cochran recovered a fumble on Good Hope's next offensive series to put West Point quickly back in business.

The Warriors took advantage of the miscue and tied the contest on Hensley's 5-yard dash. Cochran then improvised on a mishandled snap to scamper around the right end for the go-ahead 2-point conversion.

"As soon as we got the lead, there was no turning back," Hensley said. "It was all gas and no brakes."

The junior quarterback did his part in the fourth quarter, rushing for two scores (38 yards and 11 yards) and delivering a precise throw to Parker Marks, who took care of the rest for a 62-yard touchdown that put the Maroon and White ahead 49-26.

Whatley's final touchdown of the night came on the ensuing drive — a 5-yard strike to Cone on fourth down.

But it wasn't enough for the Raiders to overtake their county rival.

"Our defensive coaches made some adjustments throughout the game," Farley said. "They really hurt us with some stuff early, but we got it picked up. After that first drive (of the second half), we really challenged them — and they really stepped up."

Hensley completed 8-of-20 passes for 211 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. He added 140 rushing yards and three scores on 16 carries. Howell (103 yards on 15 carries) and Roberson (80 yards on four carries) provided a complement in the run game, while Marks (93 yards), Brayden Monfort (50 yards), Bryan (44 yards) and Sims (24 yards) each notched key receptions throughout.

For the game, West Point racked up 514 yards.

"Our offense, like our defense, made great adjustments," Farley said. "Our line played great and our receivers ran great routes. There's plenty of room for improvement, though."

Chance Aldridge added an interception on defense.

For Good Hope, Whatley finished his night completing 22-of-44 passes for 300 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. He added 32 rushing yards.

Cone (11 catches for 107 yards), Carter Rutherford (four catches for 98 yards) and Malin (three catches for 61 yards) each had strong showings in the passing game.

Callahan Lindsey and Tucker Keef, meanwhile, each recovered fumbles on defense.

Good Hope will look to rebound next week when it travels to Vinemont for another county clash.

West Point, on the other hand, will face off against Hanceville in its home opener — hoping to carry over Friday night's momentum.

"You like to learn some hard lessons, but you don't want to learn them so early," Farley said. "Good Hope came out and was ready to go. It was a 110-degree slugfest, but our guys just continued to do what we were trying to do and it paid off."

Jake Winfrey can be reached at 256-734-2131, ext. 236 or at