The rain that was originally forecast for Friday never materialized in New Site, but that didn’t stop Wadley’s offense from getting bogged down almost all night in a 14-6 loss to Horseshoe Bend.
It was opening night of the 2022 season and Wadley, coming off of last year’s magical run to the state finals, played like a team that lost a huge senior class from the year before and was breaking in a new group of younger players at multiple positions.
Wadley had bursts of success on offense, one of which led to the Bulldogs’ only touchdown of the night. But they could not consistently string together first downs or come up with a game-breaking play.
Horseshoe Bend took the lead on its first offensive play of the game, a 45-yard touchdown run that put the Generals up 7-0. But after that the Wadley defense settled in, limiting Horseshoe Bend to a total of 56 net yards on the ground the rest of the game.
Wadley cut the lead to 7-6 in the second quarter thanks to a 1-yard touchdown run by freshman Jaquez Wilkes. That play was set up by a 35-yard pass completion to Isacc Minnifield from Mason Wilkerson, on Wilkerson’s only pass attempt of the night.
But the Generals responded with their best drive of the game, a 55-yard march that took seven plays and ended with a 26-yard touchdown run and a 14-6 Horseshoe Bend lead.
That’s how the half ended, and thanks to the two defenses and four Wadley turnovers, that’s how the game ended as well. Wadley’s best chance to tie the game came early in the fourth quarter when the Bulldogs advanced to the Generals’ 13-yard line, but that possession ended in an interception near the goal line. That was the first of four straight possessions that ended in a turnover for Wadley to close out the game.
Even with all those missed opportunities, there were plenty of positives for Wadley, and it was easy to see how this could develop into a solid Bulldog team.
Wilkes finished with 84 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries. Minnifield caught three passes for 70 yards. And the defense was absolutely dominant for extended stretches of the game.
Wadley is now 0-1 on the season and will return to action next Friday at Ranburne.
Handley 22, Valley 20
Victory Christian 31, Woodland 6
White Plains 14, Ranburne 7
(Preseason) RCHS 20, Fayetteville 8