Ricketts, Fucci power Warwick in 62-28 win

By on October 4, 2017
With lineman Evan Clark (50) blocking, Warwick QB Adam Ricketts (2) releases a pass in the Warriors’ 62-28 win last Friday. Photo by Cathy Chapis
With lineman Evan Clark (50) blocking, Warwick QB Adam Ricketts (2) releases a pass in the Warriors’ 62-28 win last Friday. Photo by Cathy Chapis


With lineman Evan Clark (50) blocking, Warwick QB Adam Ricketts (2) releases a pass in the Warriors’ 62-28 win last Friday. Photo by Cathy Chapis

Adam Ricketts’ nerves didn’t last long.

Making his first varsity start under center last Friday night, Warwick’s junior QB started feeling at home after his team’s opening scoring drive.

Thanks to a fumble recovery deep in Lebanon’s end of the field, that came just 2:36 into the game.

“Things started clicking, I started making reads and I felt good,” Ricketts said.

The results proved it, as the Warriors’ signal-caller went 9-of-15 for 201 yards and three touchdowns, while junior Nick Fucci ran for 89 yards and four scores, in addition to returning a punt for a TD, leading the Warriors to a 62-28 Section One win at Lebanon’s Alumni Stadium.

It was Warwick’s (1-1 L-L, 3-2 overall) first Section win of the season, coming off a 56-24 loss to Wilson in their Section opener one week earlier, in which QB Grayson Kline suffered a season-ending knee injury.

“We still have our playoff hopes alive,” Ricketts remarked. “This win was huge. It got us back on track, got the confidence going. Our team’s about to start rolling.”

Fucci was rolling from the get-go against the Cedars (0-2 L-L, 1-4 overall), sparking a Warrior rushing game which churned out 170 yards.

The game plan was to depend heavily on the ground game, not only to take some of the pressure off of Ricketts, but because the Warriors believed it was a viable option against the Cedars’ D behind linemen Evan Clark, Nick Coomer, Matt Ensinger, Ross Formica, and Zach Smith.

“We wanted to ease (Adam) in, we just wanted him to be comfortable,” Warrior coach Bob Locker said. “We thought we could run the football and that our offensive line could move their defensive line.”

Two Lebanon turnovers and a high snap over the head of QB Zakee Sailsman (in the second quarter didn’t hurt the Warriors’ cause.

“It’s like shooting your foot off with a shotgun,” Lebanon coach Gerry Yonchiuk said. “… I think we’re an evenly-matched team. (Warwick) plays very well, they executed, they didn’t turn the ball over, they did all this stuff that a good football team will do and that’s what Warwick is. But it’s not like they’re so much more better than us. We just don’t play up to the level that we should be playing. And they took advantage and did a nice job.”

Warwick won the coin flip, then deferred to the second half, but still got the ball in excellent shape when Carter Forney recovered Sailsman’s fumble on the Cedars’ 17-yard line.

Fucci then carried the load, rushing the ball four straight times, including a three-yard TD run with 9:24 left in the first quarter. Pietro Elliott’s first of five PATs put the Warriors up 7-0.

“We got a great push up front and then the linebackers over-pursued and I was just able to look for a hole and cut back and that was it,” Fucci said.

After Lebanon blocked Elliott’s 29-yard field goal on Warwick’s second possession, Fucci, running out of a double-tight end look, capped an eight-play, 66-yard scoring drive on a 37-yard TD scamper with 11:17 left in the second quarter, stretching the Warriors’ lead to 14-0.

“I took it outside,”Fucci said, “and I saw daylight and I was just thinking, ‘Don’t get caught from behind,’ and I just ran as fast as possible.”

From there, things snowballed for the Cedars, as Warwick’s Jorden Cruz recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff. On the next play, Ricketts hit Forney for a 13-yard TD pass. The PAT missed, but Warwick led 20-0.

“It was actually funny, (tight end) Hayden (Rucci) and Carter were standing in the same area,” Ricketts said, “they both thought it was to them. Carter just kinda took it and ran in. That was exciting. First one of the night, first start, so that really got my confidence up and we just kept rolling from there.”

Lebanon’s offense finally got on track on Sailsman’s first-down passes to Luis Aquino-Rios and Jeremiah Beckley, but a 23-yard loss on a high shotgun snap, followed by Trey Glass’ 41-yard punt return put Warwick in business at the Cedars’ 13.

Not long afterward, Warrior running back Isaac Rissinger (6-28 rushing) plowed into the end zone on a one-yard TD run, and Ricketts found Forney on the two-point pass, making it 28-0 with 4:25 left in the half.

It took the Cedars less than a minute to answer, as Sailsman connected with Aquino-Rios on a 52-yard TD strike down the left sideline, getting Lebanon on the board and cutting the Warriors’ lead to 28-7 with 3:46 left in the second quarter.

The momentum didn’t last long for the Cedars, however. Fucci scored his third TD of the night on a one-yard run, and then the 5-11, 172-pound back scooped up a rolling Lebanon punt and returned it 38 yards to paydirt to make it 42-7 in the final seconds of the opening half.

“I had to block my man, he cut inside, and I had to turn around, I just saw the ball right in front of me, open lane, and I was like, ‘I’m taking this to the house,’” Fucci recalled.

“The punt … that was kinda back-breaking, if I’m looking at it from their point of view,” Locker said. “They gave us short fields, but to our credit, we took advantage of them.”

The Warriors also took advantage of a 68-yard kickoff return by Glass to open the second half. One week after Wilson made Warwick pay on special teams, the red-and-black got a shot in the arm from Glass, who had three kickoff returns for 143 yards on the night.

“The kickoff return looked pretty good today,” Locker said. “Glass is just very, VERY elusive. He’s talented. The kickoffs looked real good.”

So did Fucci, whose seven-yard TD run up the gut with just 1:21 elapsed in the third made it 48-7.

Lebanon didn’t quit, though. Sailsman countered with TD passes of one yard to Aquino-Rios and nine yards to James Apple, slicing its deficit to 48-21 with 2:13 left in the third quarter.

“Their quarterback is a real good athlete and their wideouts … in the second half, they moved the ball on us,” Locker said. “That’s what we kinda thought about to begin with was, ‘OK, they have that kind of potential.”

The Warriors’ aerial attack also has a lot of potential, and when Ricketts dropped a 56-yard TD pass into the talented hands of Forney behind the Cedars’ secondary with 1:45 left in the third, it was a 55-21 ball game.

“There’s definitely some guys around me who are able to make some plays,” Ricketts said. “We’ve got some great athletes, and our line, they know what they’re doing.”

“They’re good,” Yonchiuk said. “Number 11 (Forney), he’s a good ball player. He’s one of the better receives, by far, in Section One and probably all of the Sections. But they have other guys that complement him so well.”

Joshua Kauffman’s three-yard TD run with 9:39 left in the fourth capped an eight-play, 65-yard scoring drive for the Cedars, and then a Ricketts-to-Patrick Quinn 26-yard TD catch-and-run in the left flat completed the scoring.

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