By Ed Farrell
Herald Assistant Sports Editor
Call it the zone option ... the spread ... the read option ...
How ’bout the speed option.
With Matt Voytik orchestrating the offense for Hickory High’s football team, there’s no more accurate description.
Voytik victimized Sharon for 460 total yards Friday night, as the visiting Hornets humbled the Tigers, 38-7, in Region 3-AA.
After allowing a 21-0 margin at intermission dissipate into a 22-21 defeat to Greenville, Hickory (4-1, 5-1) has won 4 consecutive conquests by a composite 187-33 differential.
The ‘Stingers stunned Sharon for 595 total yards — that, considering Hickory had a trio of turnovers and a dozen penalties for 104 lost yards.
“It definitely put everything in perspective,” Voytik replied regarding the loss to Greenville. “You can’t take teams lightly, you’ve gotta go to practice every day and work hard, which we have been, and take the coaching. Do everything you need to do, bond together and succeed.”
Voytik ran for 5- and 1-yard scores to commence the 1st- and 2nd-half scoring, sandwiching a 62-yard touchdown toss to De’quan Lewis, part of a 12-for-19, 309-yard passing performance.
Lewis later sprinted 58 yards for the final score on a jet sweep around left end, while Lou Derloni dashed a dozen yards for a 4th-frame score. Jordan Wombacker went 5-for-5 on PATs and also added a 28-yard field goal.
“ ... We’ve all gotten quicker,” Voytik understated, later relating,
“That was Coach (Jason) McElhaney’s plan from the beginning: throw the ball, run the ball, zone option, outsize zone, all that stuff, and we’ve got the guys to do it.
“As long as we keep doin’ it, we’re gonna be unstoppable.”
In addition, it was a virtual shut out of Sharon for the ’Stingers. Hickory permitted only 153 total yards, sacked Sharon signal-caller Andrew Tomko a handful of times (Austin Aikins 1 1/2, Daulton Linton 1 1/2, and Wombacker and Zach Cirillo 1 apiece), and pilfered a pair of his passes (Andrew Pryts and Kenny Ezi-Ashi).
The lone score for Sharon (3-2, 3-3) was Curtis Seay’s 85-yard return of Voytik’s 2nd-stanza fumble. At the time it tied the tilt at 7 with 5:43 remaining to intermission.
From that juncture Hickory had its way.
“ ... Our team speed really showed up (Friday) night,” began Hickory head coach Bill Brest. “I think Matt Voytik did a great job orchestrating the offense, and he has a lot of weapons.
“I think (Sharon head coach Jim Wildman) said he was gonna try to stop most of the weapons, but not all the weapons.
“I’m proud of every, single one of them,” Brest continued. “There was a little bit of adversity that we went through this week (senior Davon Tindall was dismissed from the team, owing to a legal situation), but I’m proud of them, and it’s all about those kids right there.
“I think because (Sharon) is an emotional game, I think it got the best of us,” continued Brest, regarding the plethora of penalties. “We preach fundamentals and I’m not happy about (penalties) — that comes back to me, but other than that ... boy, oh boy!
“The physicality of our kids playing defensively, Technically that was a shutout defensively ... the offensive line’s jelling together ... special teams — it was just a total team effort.”
While Wildman was impressed with Hickory — Pryts pulled in a handful of passes for 155 yards, while Lewis lent a trio of catches for 105 and Anthony Cannone caught 3 more for 39 — though not pleased with his club’s performance.
“I said beforehand, and I’ll say now: Matt Voytik runs the show, he’s a great athlete — he’s proven that in track and last year during football season. He can run the ball, he can get out of trouble, he can throw the ball. If you’re wearing red and white, he’s an exciting guy to watch. ... He’s got escapabilityy, good head on his shoulders obviously.
“He wasn’t a one-man show, but he directs the show.”
“We’re in the hunt, and that’s gotta be the theme for the next four weeks,” Wildman continued. “The first goal is five-hundred (won-loss record) and the second goal is getting into the playoffs.
“We’re hopin’ to have a place at the table, and that’s what we’re working for,” Wildman concluded.
“We like where we’re at. We feel we control our destiny, and we’re very comfortable with where we at right now,” Brest said. “One of the biggest things we learned — and (Greenville’s) a very good football team — in week two was we didn’t finish. I think we’ve learned how to finish. I think the last couple games ... I think you saw the second-half team that we are. We’ve really been playing well in the second half.”
Note: Regarding Tindall, Brest said, “We defer everything to superintendent Dr. Dan Bell. But we love the kid, we miss him, we hope he does well.”
HICKORY 7 7 10 14 38
SHARON 0 7 0 0 7
H — Voytik, 5 run (Wombacker kick)
S — Seay, 85 fumble return (Gill kick)
H — Lewis, 62 pass from Voytik (Wombacker kick)
H — Voytik, 1 run (Wombacker kick)
H — Wombacker, 28 field goal
H — Derloni, 12 run (Wombacker kick)
H — Lewis, 58 run (Wombacker kick)
22 First downs 9
286 Rushing yards 56
309 Passing yards 97
19-12-0 Att-comp-int 16-10-2
595 Total yards 153
12-104 Fumbles-lost 0-0
4-3 Penalties-yards lost 4-34
Rushing: HICKORY — Voytik 20-151, Lewis 4-68, Derloni 10-60, Carr 3-7; SHARON — Johnson 9-48, Hawkins 12-22, Thompson 2-7, Rudolph 1-6, Tomko 6-(-27).
Passing: HICKORY — Voytik 19-12-0, 309; SHARON — Tomko 16-10-2, 97.
Receiving: HICKORY — Pryts 5-155, Lewis 3-105, Cannone 3-39, Derloni 1-10; SHARON — Austin 5-81, Hawkins 2-(-4), Johnson 1-8, Moseley 1-6, Vanderslice 1-6.