VANCEBURG – Mason County knew what they had to do and got it done.
The Royals shot out early on Lewis County, executed their game plan and roughed up the Lions 36-6, Friday, in Vanceburg.
After finishing district play two weeks ago, the Royals approached their final two games wanting a clean bill of health and two victories, they were able to do both with a 28-8 win over Grant County last week and the win over the Lions this week.
“Hats off to our kids. We had a lot of adversity, injuries over the course of the season. We’re thin and the guys kept grinding, the guys kept playing. It’s tough to keep doing what we’re doing with 22-23 kids. Our kids did a phenomenal job to close out the season,” Royals coach Jonathan Thomas said.
Mason County accounted for 321 total yards of offense, 240 of it coming via the rushing attack in the convincing victory.
The Royals struck early and often in the contest, putting six on the board just 49 seconds into the game when Malkolm Devine ran one in from 30 yards out.
“That was big. We had started out slow the past few weeks. It was good for us to come out and execute and we harped that all week this week in practice,” Thomas said.
Devine would cause most of the destruction on the day in the ground game with 188 rushing yards. The total also put him over 1,000 for the season, needing just five yards coming into Friday night’s regular season finale.
“It was always one thing that I wanted to do as a high school player was get 1,000 yards. My dad preached to me to work after practice, work on footwork drills and everything else. I listened to him, did what he told me to do and it’s actually paying off,” Devine said.
It was an unusual suspect getting the Royals second touchdown of the day, an 18-yard touchdown reception from Chandler Dunaway to Camdyn Washington, making it 15-0 Royals less than six minutes into the game.
“We’ve been practicing that all week and I kept telling Chandler that I was going to be open and throw it up to me. The way he was scrambling and the way I ran to the other side and nobody was there,” Washington said.
Tykeise Henry would then get in on the action, scoring untouched on a run from four yards out, making it 22-0 Royals with 7:42 left in the second.
It was Washington again later in the quarter, scoring on a rushing play from 28 yards out, making it 29-0 Mason County with 4:02 to play in the first half. Washington, usually running it inside the tackles at the fullback position, was able to get to the outside and burst into the end zone.
“It’s always good when you get into the running back spot and you get to see everything and it’s not instantaneous at the line. A good run is a good run, I enjoyed it, I’m glad my guys blocked for me and Chandler said I was going to score and I did,” Washington said.
By the time the half hit, the Royals had racked up 248 yards of offense on just 22 plays. Meanwhile the Lions were able to move the ball with 106 yards in the first half, put couldn’t capitalize and complete drives either by loss of yards on a particular play or incompletions.
“Everything we were doing whether it be throwing or passing we wanted to stay ahead of the chains,” Lions coach Josh Hughes said. “We weren’t necessarily going for the homerun every play and when that happens and you have an incompletion or lose three or four yards it really put us in a tough spot.”
Dunaway got the game to a running clock with 4:47 left in the third when he scored from a yard out on a QB sneak, to make it 36-0.
As the wind started to howl in with a front coming through, play proceeded to go by quickly, but the Lions were able to close their season out with a bit of a silver lining.
Lehn hit Justin Howard on a fourth down late in the fourth for a 10-yard score, Howard’s first reception all year.
“We called a timeout and told Justin we were going to hand the ball to him or throw it to him and the kids talked him into us throwing to him. I’m glad it worked out for him,” Hughes said.
Howard is part of a senior group of nine Lewis County players that won’t suit it up again for the blue and white.
Lewis County ended their season at 2-8, missing out on the postseason for the fourth straight year.
“Seasons over, you don’t dwell on any of the negative. I’ve got most of these kids in class so the relationships are there. We just need to get back to work and pretend like we’re one continuous season and moving on to the next thing,” Hughes said.
Part of the promising rising seniors for Lewis is running back Garrett Applegate, who ended up with 141 yards rushing on the night, surpassing 800 yards on the season. Lehn struggled in the passing game, going 10-of-23, throwing for 52 yards with the score to Howard and an interception.
“Garrett is our running game. Zach having a year under his belt will be big for us. I think we’ve got a good core coming back,” Hughes said.
Mason County closed out the regular season at 7-3. The win total is a vast improvement from Thomas’ first two seasons, when they won a combined four games.
Devine led with the 188 yards on the ground while Dunaway threw for 80 yards, going 4-of-8. Washington had 46 all-purpose yards and Henry had 33 all-purpose yards.
“We’ve got a lot of guys that can do a lot of things, they do so many other things in so many other facets of the game. A lot of times you don’t get to see maybe what Camdyn or Tykeise can do offensively and you don’t see them complaining, they just go out and do their job,” Thomas said.
Now the task at hand is defending state champion Johnson Central in Paintsville next Friday to open up the Class 4A playoffs.
“They are a smash mouth football team. You’ve got to line up correctly with them and match up with them at the point of attack,” Thomas said.
The Golden Eaagles have lost two straight going into the matchup.