HURRICANE, W.Va. -- Huntington Coach Billy Seals wasn't overly concerned with his team's defense coming off a lackluster performance in the MSAC Grid-O-Rama last week.
As it turned out Friday night in the Highlanders' opener, the fifth-year coach had good reason to feel confident. Fifth-ranked Huntington (1-0) held host Hurricane (0-1) to 41 rushing yards on 25 attempts and kept the Redskins to 163 total yards in a 23-8 win at Redskins Stadium.
Seals went through a litany of players' names in discussing the performance, which also saw Hurricane quarterback Austin Hensley held to 9-of-25 passing for 122 yards and two interceptions. A fourth-quarter pass from Hensley to Brandon Ford that went for 62 yards was the only completion the senior made that gained more than 15 yards.
"When you've got Nigale Cabell in there and Shamar Ingram (at defensive tackle) and Chris VanCamp at end and Kyle Blankenship at end, Kilan Nicks at end and Arick Nicks at end and Tevin Thomas inside, we've got about eight guys who we feel can play," Seals said. "We did a great job of rotating those guys tonight and staying fresh to try and keep pressure on Austin Hensley."
Huntington's defense never wavered in the game, although its own offense moved in bits and spurts. The Highlanders led 10-0 at halftime on the strength of a 55-yard touchdown run by junior running back Charles Crawford and a 42-yard field goal by Zach Stevens, but it wasn't until late in the third quarter that they got their double-wing offense working with steady efficiency. Huntington totaled just 209 yards, all but 9 yards coming on 48 rushing attempts.
With 2:24 left in the third quarter, Huntington took possession at its own 29-yard line after Hensley threw four consecutive in completions to turn the ball over on downs. The Highlanders embarked on a 13-play, 71-yard drive that ate up 7:28 and was capped when junior quarterback Clark Wilson dove into the end zone from 1 yard out to make it 17-0.
"Any time you play on the road in high school football, you've got to weather the storm early," Seals said. "I think we did a good job of that."