Elusive Workman helps Johnnies hold off Barons

By Paul Batterson - For the Gazette

Now you see him. Now you don’t.

Cody Workman, the senior quarterback for the Johnstown-Monroe High School football team was that elusive for Buckeye Valley in the Barons’ 41-26 loss Friday at Johnstown. Even when Buckeye Valley appeared to have caught Workman on an off-night, the 6-foot, 170-pound quarterback seemed to find a way to wiggle free.

“That Workman kid is just fantastic,” said Buckeye Valley coach Matt Stephens, whose team fell to 1-2 overall as the Johnnies continues their 3-0 start. “Even when we were in position he made us miss.”

Case in point: After trailing 21-0 at half, Buckeye Valley stormed back in the third quarter and was within two points, 28-26, as the Barons’ Trent Davies broke free on a 56-yard scamper for a touchdown with less than nine minutes remaining. The Barons seemingly had Workman and company corralled but, facing a third down and 19 at his own 16, the quarterback slithered to the left sideline and took off for an 84-yard touchdown run.

Case in point part 2: After Johnstown running back Andrew Sayer’s 17-yard run for an apparent touchdown run was nullified by a holding call, Workman lofted a 24-yard touchdown pass to Jesse Farley to put the game out of reach.

“The third and 19 when he runs for a touchdown was the back breaker there,” Stephens said. “He does stuff you can’t replicate in practice with all the cutbacks he does and he sets guys up and makes you miss. If you don’t have a guy in your program that has that kind of athleticism you can’t find a sophomore or junior on the scout team to rep that.”

Workman’s magic, rushing for over 250 yards and throwing for just under 100 yards against Buckeye Valley, was lethal on third downs in the first half. Johnstown picked up 44 yards and converted six of eight third downs and converted 1 of 2 fourth downs while establishing its three-touchdown lead at the half.

However Buckeye Valley seemed to have the right stuff to make its deficit disappear, converting three Johnstown turnovers into three touchdowns.

“I challenged the guys at halftime,” Stephens said. “I told them Johntown is a program that is used to having success. They have been in this situation before and when they are up at halftime, they smell blood and they turn the sword on you. That got them going a little bit and I think we answered and made a game of it for a quarter and a half.”

In Johnstown’s opening drive of the third quarter, Barons linebacker Nick Kidwell pounced on a Workman fumble at the Johnnies 32. Quarterback Ben Spaulding rifled a 32-yard touchdown pass to Chris Santillan, who ripped the ball away from a Johnstown defender for the Barons’ first score.

On the Johnnies’ ensuing drive, Buckeye Valley defensive lineman Wes Cochran scooped up another Workman fumble and raced 38 yards for Buckeye Valley’s second touchdown in two minutes.

“There was a big momentum shift,” said Cochran, who scored his first touchdown with the recovery. “It was just an exciting moment to actually have the ball in your hands, run up the field with everyone chasing you.”

With less than six minutes left in the third quarter, Santillan picked off a Workman pass and Spaulding tossed a 57-yard TD pass to Davies to pull it within two points. However, Davies’ 2-point conversion attempt was stopped inches away from the goal line

“We had some opportunities there,” Stephens said. “It would have been nice to get that 2-point conversion there because after that we were playing catch up, but I don’t think it made a difference in the outcome. You can’t dwell on it. You watch it on film and you learn from your mistakes and then you cut it loose.”

“There are definitely some things we need to tweak on defense and on offense, too, but I feel like we are going to come out of this game stronger and we’re going to win our conference,” Cochran said.

By Paul Batterson

For the Gazette