Millbrook piles up 568 yards to flatten Wood

WINCHESTER — As the Millbrook football team moved into James Wood territory halfway through the third quarter during Friday's Pioneers home game, a chant of "We want IHOP!" by some players cropped up for about 15 seconds on the Millbrook sideline.

Pioneers senior tight end and defensive end Cole Purdy explained after the game that the team's offensive line will get treated to a meal at the restaurant by the team's coaches if they ever record 50 pancake blocks in a single game.

Millbrook coach Josh Haymore said the most the Pioneers have had in a game is 26, so that won't be an easy goal to reach. But the sight of numerous crushing blocks on that drive clearly had the sideline thinking the players on the field deserved something to fill their stomachs based on the voracious approach they were taking to their craft.

Yes, the Pioneers sure had plenty of reasons to feel good at that point.

Millbrook went on to score its sixth touchdown in seven possessions on that drive, and the Pioneers would tack on another score later to finish with a 47-23 win over their Frederick County rivals.

Bound for the Region 4D playoffs, Millbrook (7-3, 3-1 Class 4 Northwestern District) had more than 300 yards rushing at the half, and ended the game with 545 yards on 58 carries and 568 total yards against a James Wood defense that did not have star senior linebacker Zach Smith, who was injured last week against Liberty. Smith worked hard to give himself a chance to play Friday and was even dressed to play, but Colonels coach Todd Wilson said based on how pre-game warm-ups went it was clear that Smith shouldn't play.

Tyson Mallory (19 carries, 185 yards, three TDs), Kyler Jackson (20 carries, 158 yards, TD) and Jonah Mihill (15 carries, 126 yards, two TDs; 23-yard completion on his one attempt) each eclipsed the century mark against James Wood (4-6, 0-4), which saw its season come to an end with the defeat.

Millbrook's offensive front featured tight end Trey White on the left side, guard Jacob Wiseman, center Thomas Mauck, guard Garrett Cook, tackles Ezra Doyle-Naegeli and Ty Jahnigen, and Purdy.

"I thought we had a great approach," Purdy said. "We all watched our separate film throughout the week and looked at what they ran on defense and how we were going to run the ball on it. I think we did a very good job of that and continued to get at it."

No one has truly shut down Milbrook, but the Pioneers hadn't cracked 28 points in any of their last three games — a stretch that included last week's 27-22 loss to Handley — after averaging 38.3 in their first six contests. On Friday, Millbrook scored TDs on its first four possessions, led 28-7 at the half, and was up 41-7 with 4:44 left in the third quarter after Mallory scored from 10 yards out on the "IHOP" drive.

Millbrook attacking James Wood on the outside was a big part of the Pioneers' game plan because of what they saw from the Colonels. They often had success using a play in which the player who took the shotgun snap would move forward to give the ball to blocking back Andrew Callahan, and he would then pitch the ball backwards to the outside to a back in motion.

Millbrook coach Josh Haymore said they ran it about 10 times on Friday. Mihill picked up 14 yards on the play when Millbrook ran it for the first time on the second play from scrimmage.

"The first time we ran it, it was wide-open, and we kept running it," Mihill said. "Ezra got out there and made his block and made it easy for me."

Mihill would run for 13 yards on a pitch later in the drive that would end with a nine-yard Mallory touchdown run. Garrett Johnson — who would score Millbrook's final touchdown from one yard out in the fourth quarter and had an interception of Dominik Ramirez on his one pass attempt late in the first half — kicked the first of his five extra points to make it 7-0 at the 7:18 mark of the first quarter.

Mihill would score both of his touchdowns on pitches from Callahan. He ran the ball from 14 yards out on the right side with 1:28 left in the first quarter to cap a five-play, 53-yard drive that made it 14-7 with 1:28 left in the first quarter, and he scored from 26 yards out to give Millbrook a 21-7 lead with 8:40 left in the second quarter.

James Wood coach Todd Wilson said the Colonels simply did not read the pitch play well.

"We didn't set up to it right," Wilson said. "We were reading the wrong keys."

But as evidenced by the final numbers, the Pioneers were hard to stop no matter what play was called. Now in their second year running the single-wing, Haymore said the Pioneers are still learning about their offensive capabilities.

"I think our kids, all year long, have done a great job of taking what the defense has given us," Haymore said. "It's a new offense for the coaches and players. As coaches, you have to be able to make adjustments for the players. As we move along each week, we get better seeing what's open, where the numbers are [in terms of player alignment on the field], who's covering what, what kind of defense they're actually running.

"There were some plays [James Wood] took away because of their alignments. We could have run [those plays], but running the ball where they're not makes it a lot easier."

Mallory scored the final touchdown of the first half on a 65-yard run. After breaking a tackle at the line, Haymore said, "He's gone" and Mallory proved him right by going the rest of the way untouched.

Jackson opened the scoring in the second half with a nine-yard TD run, capping a six-play, 99-yard drive after Millbrook had stuffed Ramirez for no gain on fourth-and-goal from the 1.

Mihill said it's great to have so much depth in the backfield, because no matter which two players are in the game out of Jackson, Mallory or Mihill, there isn't a drop-off in production. The Pioneers have depth at wing back as well — Ryan Hecker didn't play on Friday, but Ja'Mari Holmes picked up 55 yards on four carries and had the 23-yard reception.

On defense, James Wood had a successful first drive with tempo, and Ramirez capped a 11-play, 73-yard drive with a four-yard TD run on fourth-and-2.

But James Wood finished with just 76 yards on 33 carries, a continuation of its struggles in the run game when not in its heavy package with Ramirez. The Colonels were already playing without Shaun Johnson on its offensive line and lost Kquince Robinson during the course of the game, so they wound up playing a few different combinations.

"It's been tough establishing the run game all year," Wilson said. "Elijah Richards was close to 1,000 yards on the season, and a lot of those yards were just hard yards. We'll evaluate things in the offseason and address and get [the running game] right moving forward."

And while Owen Neal completed 17 of 30 passes for 241 yards and two TDs, he was also under strong pressure at times and threw a pass that Jackson intercepted on the first play of the fourth quarter.

"I thought our defensive line played really well," Haymore said. "Cole [Purdy] really showed up tonight."

Purdy and the rest of the Pioneers hope to show up in a big way in the playoffs again after making the second round last year. The Virginia High School League pairings have yet to be released, but unofficially, Millbrook will be the No. 4 seed and get a rematch with No. 5 Handley in the Region 4D quarterfinals.

"I think we're ready for the playoffs," said Purdy before the playoff pairings were released. "We hope to make it far."

James Wood's season is over, but the Colonels doubled last year's win total. Some of their 15 seniors made some notable statistical contributions Friday. Casey Floyd caught eight passes for 95 yards, Sam Jackson caught a 45-yard TD pass from Neal in the third quarter, Brandon Waters had four catches for 23 yards and a two-point catch, and Jasmine Hackman converted her first extra point of the year on her only attempt.

"They're all great kids," Wilson said. "It's a great group of kids [overall]. We're exactly where we wanted to be with a chance to make the playoffs [at the end of the season]. That's all you can ask for."

Senior lineman Jack Thompson said there was a lot to like about this year.

"It was a great year," Thompson said. "I love the coaches and love all the players. Everyone worked so hard. I'm proud of everyone."

Junior Justin Gwinner had four catches for 78 yards and a 16-yard TD for the Colonels.

— Contact Robert Niedzwiecki at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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