SPERRY – Ouch! That really hurt.
The Verdigris Cardinals suffered through a painful offensive experience against Class 2A third-ranked Sperry in their season opener Friday night at Herrington Field.
The defending state champion Pirates gleefully took advantage of six VHS fumbles, 125 yards in penalties and three bad center snaps that lost 58 yards, rolling to 49-13 victory.
Cardinals coach Travis East said his defensive unit, expected to be one of his team’s strengths, was also wounded by the pass-happy Spartans.
Sperry quarterback Cooper Park completed 14-of-17 throws for 257 yards and three touchdowns.
“They were just more ready than we were,’’ East said of the home team. “We didn’t cover (their passes) like we were supposed to and that’s my fault. We’ve got to learn from this and do a better job of it. We’ve got to build off it and make corrections.’’
Errors continuously stopped Verdigris drives, beginning on the Cardinals’ opening series.
On first down from the Sperry 46, a high snap sailed over the head of VHS quarterback Hayden Jones, losing six yards, followed by a false start. Back-to-back holding penalties sent the Cards back to their own 12 on their next possession.
Sperry received a Verdigris punt after that, unleashing an 87 yard drive that ended when Joe Whiteley bolted four yards to score with 4:29 left in the first period. It only got worse for the Cardinals from there.
“There was one bright spot,’’ said East. ‘’Our kids kept fighting until the very end.’’
Also encouraging for the Cardinals was the performance of freshman running back Caden Parnell who gained 110 yards on 14 carries, matching the yardage total of Sperry senior Bryce Carter.
Carter darted 71 yards for a TD in the second quarter with Park sandwiching scoring passes of 23 and 18 yards to Kohlby Foster, giving the Pirates a 28-0 halftime lead.
Foster returned a VHS punt 84 yards in the third period for a 35-0 Sperry lead.
The Cardinals then turned to their defense for their first touchdown of the season.
Linebacker Ty Moore intercepted a Park pass and rumbled 62 yards to pull Verdigris within 35-6 at of the 5:30 mark of period three.
Stormy Weathers, who caught three passes for 102 yards, added a five-yard TD run for Sperry late in the third period and then snagged an 81-yard score from Park with 7:38 to go.
Verdigris managed its second touchdown, driving 72 yards to get a two-yard blast from Dylan Collins. Giovani Vergara-Soto kicked the conversion.