The Whale Branch Early College High School football team, stuck in the young program's worst start to a season, found its identity to begin the Region 5-A schedule and rolled Denmark-Olar, 65-0, on Warriors Field.
"We ran to the ball, we were patient on offense," Whale Branch coach Jerry Hatcher said. "They're not a strong team. We knew this was a game we thought we should win. And it kind of snowballed on them."
Running between the tackles out of split-back sets most of the night, running backs Javon Gardner, Michael Dantzler and Stephon Eugene helped the Warriors own the clock.
Kicker Ben Wallace added the polish, kicking a school-record eight extra points and a 21-yard field goal, his second field goal and second field goal in school history.
The senior running back Dantzler finished with 122 yards rushing and three touchdowns.
Gardner rushed for 77 yards and a touchdown before leaving with an injury at halftime, and quarterback Devonta Glover ran for two scores to help lead the Warriors.
Whale Branch (1-4, 1-0 Region 5-A) was beat up its first four games by bigger schools, including Bluffton and Hilton Head Island High. Warriors coach Jerry Hatcher thought his team turned a corner during a close loss at Wade Hampton.
"You don't have to worry about the last four," he told the Warriors, "You're 1-0."
On Friday, Denmark-Olar (0-5, 0-1) allowed the Warriors to have their way and avenge a surprising 2012 road loss that ultimately cost Whale Branch a home playoff game.
Hatcher told the the Warriors next week's game at Estill would be huge, that Estill was much more talented than the Vikings and featured the best pair of running backs Whale Branch would face.
Beat Estill, he said, and the Warriors would contend for a region title.
Whale Branch was content Friday to enjoy its first victory of the season.
"It's region time now," senior Chavonne Simmons said. "We knew we had to come in and forget about everything else."
The Warriors ran much of the night behind offensive lineman Casser Middleton, who has been named the team's top offensive player the past two weeks. Much of Dantzler's damage came on a counter play.
Hatcher said Gardner appeared to have sprained his right ankle. The Warriors have Malik Brown and Stephon Eugene to plug in the backfield when needed.
Simmons said Warriors coaches wanted the offensive line to get to the second level of the Denmark-Olar defense and blow open lanes. And on defense, they wanted their big linemen to control the Vikings' attack.
Everything played out as expected.
At cornerback, Simmons sat on slants and wheel routes and returned an interception 62 yards for a score during the third quarter.
The Warriors were all smiles.
"We're having fun, but we're staying focused at the same time," Simmons said. "It was a team effort tonight."
Whale Branch 65, Denmark-Olar 0
Denmark-Olar 0 0 0 0 -- 0
Whale Branch 3 21 14 27 -- 65
WB -- Ben Wallace 21 FG 6:35
WB -- Javon Gardner 5 run (Wallace kick) 11:55
WB -- Treyvon Bryan fumble recovery (Wallace kick) 5:14
WB -- Devonta Glover 3 run (Wallace kick) 2:25
WB -- Chavonne Simmons 62 interception return (Wallace kick) 7:22
WB -- Michael Dantzler 4 run (Wallace kick) 2:42
WB -- Devonta Glover 10 run (Wallace kick) 10:05
WB -- Dantzler 5 run (Wallace kick) 7:11
WB -- Stephon Eugene 3 run (conversion failed) 3:25
WB -- Dantzler 5 run (Wallace kick) 1:18
First Downs 3 24
Rushes-Yards 21-23 52-344
Comp-Att-Int 3-16-2 2-8-1
Passing Yards 45 2
Punts-Avg 7-20.9 2-28
Fumbles-Lost 6-4 1-0
Penalties-Yards 5-50 3-15
Third-Down Conv 0-10 1-8
Fourth-Down Conv 0-1 0-1
PASSING: Denmark-Olar -- Ricco Parler 3 for 16, 45 yards, 2 INTs; Whale Branch -- Devonta Glover 2 for 8, 2 yards, INT.
RUSHING: Denmark-Olar -- Xavier Reed 6-27, Travis Smalls 2-7, Parler 9-3, William Smith 1-7, LaDamian Dunbar 2- (-14), Scott Williams 1- (-7); Whale Branch -- Michael Dantzler 16-122, Javon Gardner 11-77, Stephon Eugene 13-53, Glover 7-51, Malik Brown 5-41.
RECEIVING: Denmark-Olar -- Kennith Butler 3-45; Whale Branch -- Mark Hatcher 1-3, Dantzler 1- (-1).