WICKLIFFE—Isaac Pettway returned the opening kickoff 79 yards for a touchdown and Wickliffe never looked back in a 40-6 win over visiting Independence in the Chagrin Valley Conference Valley Division opener for both schools.
The Blue Devils previously played in the CVC Chagrin Division.
“We’re not going to overlook anybody but our experience in the Chagrin Division will definitely pay off as far as the physicality and some of that,” said Wickliffe coach Marce Porcello. “It’s a little different for us but this is not an easy league. I think we played a good game tonight against a good football team.”
Porcello couldn’t have asked for a better start than to have his best player make a statement on the opening kickoff.
“In the past, we thought we just tried to survive special teams and now we try to take advantage of special teams,” he said. “Whenever you can return the opening kickoff, that’s going to set the tone for the night. That was a great return. Fortunately, they kicked it to our best athlete and he took it to the house.”
After stopping Independence on 4th-and-4, the Blue Devils took over at their own 14 and Chase Fortkamp broke an 86-yard touchdown run to push the Wickliffe lead to 14-0.
Pettway, who carried 15 times for 118 yards, added a seven-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter and Fortkamp made it 27-0 with his 18-yard touchdown run.
Brad Dieterich threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to Jaylen Bowers to push the Wickliffe lead to 34-0 at halftime.
Dieterich, who completed 3-of-4 passes for 42 yards, booted 22 and 34-yard field goals in the second half to close out the scoring for Wickliffe.
“They’re a pretty good team,” Porcello said of Independence. “I think we executed really well and we were really physical. I told the guys we had to come out and be physical all night and play fast and that’s exactly what we did.”
Michael Tommer threw a 23-yard touchdown pass to Matt Richards with 2:23 left in the game for Independence’s only score of the night.
“I’ve got to get the guys ready to play, we’re better than this,” said Independence coach Rick Adams. “They are a good team. Pettway is the best back we’ve seen and we’ve played Columbia. He’s better than (Brandon) Coleman. They don’t have the numbers but they’re a physical team. They’re the most physical team we’ve played this year and we didn’t match it and that’s on me. We’ll be better next week.”
Robert Artrip led Independence with 56 rushing yards on 16 carries.
Wickliffe improved to 4-0 while Independence dropped to 2-2.