Moscow’s speed lights up the scoreboard
By Conor Nicholl (email@example.com)
Posted: October 9, 2011 - 3:06 AM
In Week 4, Northern Valley defeated Pike Valley, 46-24, in a matchup of two of Kansas' longest tenured coaches.
The contest allowed Northern Valley's Chuck Fessenden, in his 36th season with the Huskies, to talk with Pike Valley's Don Melby, in his 30th year with the Panthers.
They discussed an historic 1985 contest between the two teams, a game that Northern Valley won 118-6.
Twenty-five years later, that game is still the state's eight-man record for single game points and margin of victory, according to the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame.
"When we set that record, we didn't have the 45-point rule or anything and no running clock or anything like that," Fessenden said. "It was just kind of one of those deals where we had substituted in the first half."
Still, the Huskies — which won three state titles and had four state runner-up showings between 1982-90 — had quick JV players that eventually helped Northern Valley win state championships.
"Usually, when teams score a lot of points, you are talking about speed," Fessenden said.
Fessenden compared his dominant high-scoring teams to the 2011 Moscow squad, a program that has tremendous speed at several positions — and could join Northern Valley in the state record book.
At the Class 1A state track and field meet last spring, Moscow finished third and won three sprint titles.
Osvaldo Granillo won the 100- and 200-meter dashes.
Moscow also captured the 1,600-meter relay with a quartet that included Granillo, Jonatan Manriquez and Breck Roop.
This fall, Granillo, Manriquez and Roop, all seniors, have formed what Moscow first-year coach Travis Johnson has called a "three-headed monster" for a 6-0 Moscow team has delivered huge numbers.
Moscow has averaged 74 points, 474 yards of total offense and 329 rushing yards a game.
Moscow is the nation's highest scoring eight-man team, according to MaxPreps.com.
The Wildcats are on pace to break the state record for scoring average set by the 1982 Midway-Denton team (61.3).
The '82 Midway-Denton team also holds the record for average yards per game (473.7) and total points (736), other records that Moscow could break.
"We have so much speed — not just with these three guys — but our overall team speed is unbelievable," Johnson said.
"Our line has been doing a great job this year as far as opening holes and driving off the ball. When the running back makes his first cut six yards past the line of scrimmage, you know good things are happening."
Moscow has won its six games 88-48, 90-44, 60-13, 84-38, 58-12 and 64-14 against previously 4-2 Dighton on Friday.
"The first game, we put up 88, I thought, 'OK, maybe that was just a fluke,'" Johnson said. "Then, all of a sudden, the second week, we put up 90. It started dawning on me at that point in time, maybe this isn't a fluke. We can put up this many points."
In addition, Moscow's defense has played well, especially the last two weeks.
Against Dighton, Moscow outgained the Hornets 410-160 and held Dighton all-state running back Guy Fullmer to 148 yards on 24 carries.
"One of the biggest misconceptions that people have is that they see the scores, like 88-48, or 90-40 or whatever it is, and they sit there and think, 'Well, our defense isn't that good,'" Johnson said. "Well, what we did earlier in the year, is that when we would open up a big lead, we would put our second-string guys or our JV in on defense just to give them a little bit of experience. So, last night, we had our varsity in and the week before that against Ingalls, we had our varsity in the whole night. In the last two weeks, we've only allowed 26 points."
But opponents can't stop the Moscow offense.
Roop, the brother of former Moscow all-state quarterback Taylor Roop, has completed 40-of-63 passes for 799 yards with 15 touchdowns against one interception. He has also rushed 52 times for 419 yards.
Manriquez, who rarely carried the ball last year, has 74 rushes for 758 yards.
Granillo has collected 49 rushes for 678 yards with 13 scores and caught 24 passes for 526 yards and 11 scores.
Junior Lane Miller had 11 catches for 169 yards and four scores.
Moscow's line features junior Jaron Thompson at center, junior Easton Bohl at right guard and junior Jaron Thompson at left guard.
Johnson has only seen one high school player as fast as Granillo — former Salina Central and Kansas standout Jake Sharp, who Johnson saw as an assistant at Highland Park.
Granillo lines up at multiple places on the field, including as a wideout and wingback.
"Our first district game that year, it was Jake Sharp's senior year," Johnson said. "I can remember that very vividly because in the first half alone, he had like 300 yards and seven touchdowns against us at Highland Park. I compare him to Jake Sharp as far as speed is concerned."
In the last five years, Moscow has delivered a 31-18 record and averaged 44 points per game, including a 10-2 record and Eight-Man, Division II sub-state runner-up finish in 2008.
This year, Johnson, a former assistant, took over for Bob Holman and made several tweaks to the offense.
"I knew we were going to be pretty good, pretty decent," Johnson said. "But I didn't think we were going to score all the points we have. It's just like we have an offensive juggernaut. It's just unbelievable — and how quickly we can score. That's the thing that has been real surprising to me. We can score real quickly, or we can march it down the field either way."
Last year, Manriquez was mainly used as a blocking back. This year, Johnson decided to use Manriquez as a ball carrier. Manriquez is usually the only running back in the one-back sets, a formation that Moscow uses often.
In addition, Moscow can run spread and out of the I formation, among others.
"We run so many different formations, so many different plays that's it hard to prepare for us each and every week," Johnson said.
However, Moscow has higher goals than just scoring points.
The Wildcats, with their win against Dighton, have established themselves and Ashland as the best squads in Eight-Man, Division II, District 6.
In the last eight years, Moscow has only won two playoff games, both in 2008.
After Friday's win, Johnson knew the team still needed to improve, including offensively where he counted at least four procedural penalties.
"It doesn't matter to us how many points we score as long as score more than the other team," Johnson said. "That's all we are worried about. We are not done by any means. I stress and my assistant stresses to stay humble. We have got to get better each and every day. Don't be complacent."