MANCHESTER — West Delaware football coach Doug Winkowitsch knew two non-district tests would tell a lot about his rebuilt Hawks.
Led by senior quarterback Tanner Wessels and sophomore tailback Caleb Kehrli, two lopsided victories prove West Delaware will again be a force in Class 3A.
Wessels threw for 278 yards and three touchdowns, while Kehrli added three short touchdown runs as the Hawks dispatched Class 2A second-ranked Mount Vernon, 46-20, Saturday night at home.
“I can’t say enough about these guys,” Winkowitsch said. “We just had such a tremendous offseason. They are so focused and locked in and so coachable. It’s just been a lot of fun.”
West Delaware trailed early, 7-0, but strung together consecutive scoring drives of 72, 95 and 64 yards for a 20-14 lead, highlighted by an 82-yard catch-and-run touchdown by receiver Tyler Kelley.
“The thing that we’ve got right now is we can throw the ball so well,” Winkowitsch said. “It’s going to open up the passing game for us.”
After Mount Vernon punter Tyler Elliott fumbled while trying to elude the oncoming rush, West Delaware recovered at the Mustangs’ 26-yard-line. A 25-yard scamper by Kehrli led to his own one-yard plunge, and the Hawks’ lead was pushed to 27-14.
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“The line just does their job and blocks all the time,” said Kehrli, who rushed for 227 yards on 35 carries. “I can’t do without them.”
The West Delaware defense made sure the lead held up by forcing a three-and-out and then stalled the Mustangs’ offense with an incompletion at the goal line as the halftime horn sounded.
Mount Vernon had to punt again after three plays on offense to begin the second half, and Wessels turned the lights out on the Mustangs with a 55-yard scoring strike to receiver Kabryn Cook on the first play of the ensuing drive for a 34-14 lead.
“Passing the ball is pretty easy when you’ve got a 6-foot-3 guy over there,” Wessels said with a laugh. “We’ve got some fast receivers to throw it out to.”
Cook finished with two touchdown receptions and a touchdown run, while Kelley added 145 yards on four catches.
The 540 total yards of offense rank third in school history.
Mount Vernon pulled within 34-20 on a seven-yard touchdown run by tailback Sam Moore midway through the third period, but a five-yard touchdown pass from Wessels to Cook extended the advantage to 40-20.
Kehrli closed the scoring with his third score from a yard out with 5:59 left in the game.
“It was pretty comfortable after we got a three-touchdown lead,” Wessels said. “We just went on from there.”
West Delaware – which routed rival and 2015 playoff qualifier Independence, 48-0, in the opener – surges into district play next week at Davenport Assumption in what will give the winner a leg up in the playoff chase.
“You don’t know what to expect week one,” Winkowitsch said. “In week two you hope to take that big jump in improvement. ... Just real happy with these guys and they way they’re performing.”
Moore finished with two touchdowns for Mount Vernon, which brings an 0-2 record against a pair of upper-echelon 3A teams into district play next week against Camanche in its home opener.
West Delaware 46, Mount Vernon 20
MV – Jack Cochrane 3 run (Tyler Elliott kick)
WD – Caleb Kehrli 1 run (Aaron Thole kick)
WD – Tyler Kelley 82 pass from Tanner Wessels (Aaron Thole kick)
MV – Sam Moore 7 run (Tyler Elliott kick)
WD – Kabryn Cook 5 run (kick failed)
WD – Caleb Kehrli 1 run (Aaron Thole kick)
WD – Kabryn Cook 55 pass from Tanner Wessels (Aaron Thole kick)
MV – Sam Moore 7 run (kick blocked)
WD – Kabryn Cook 5 pass from Tanner Wessels (Aaron Thole kick)
WD – Caleb Kehrli 1 run (kick blocked)
RUSHING – Mount Vernon: Sam Moore 29-139, Jack Cochrane 10-28, Drew Adams 4-1, Tyler Elliott 1-(-28); West Delaware: Caleb Kehrli 35-227, Tanner Wessels 11-13, Kabryn Cook 3-22.
PASSING – Mount Vernon: Drew Adams 18-50-220; West Delaware: Tanner Wessels 12-19-1-278.
RECEIVING – Mount Vernon: Cole Snedden 0-0, Jack Cochrane 7-69, Jack Bootsmiller 5-57, Blake Booth 4-41, Matt Gearhart 1-41, Jared Booth 1-12; West Delaware: Kabryn Cook 3-63, Mitchel Mangold 2-11, Tyler Kelley 4-145, John Nagel 3-57, Logan Winn 0-0.
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