JASPER — Taking over a Hamilton County program that won one game each of the past two seasons, Richard Vester has admitted it wouldn’t be an overnight turnaround.
If the Trojans’ spring game Friday night at Veterans Memorial Stadium is any indication, Vester was right. Despite a couple big plays from rising sophomore speedster Jeremiah Gibson, Hamilton County fell 64-14 to Wildwood, 44-14 in the three varsity quarters.
“It’s like I told them, this is not going to happen overnight,” Vester said. “We have to stay the course and trust the process.
“We’re all in the same boat, it just takes time. It comes down to reps. You have to have time to get reps.”
Offensively, the Trojans showed glimpses running the Wing-T.
Hamilton County, which finished with 260 yards rushing on 39 carries, picked up a first down on seven of its 10 possessions.
The Trojans also struck for a couple long touchdowns courtesy of Gibson.
Trailing 6-0 just minutes into the first quarter, Gibson picked up a first down with a five-yard run and then two plays later, found a crease on the left side on a toss play and blazed down the visiting sideline with 7:43 left in the opening period. Following an Omar Lopez extra point, HCHS led 7-6.
Gibson’s second long scoring scamper came early in the third quarter. After Wildwood scored on the opening possession of the third, Gibson followed a 12-yard run from quarterback Tyler Whetstone by cutting back up the middle and outracing the Wildcats for a 63-yard run. Lopez’s kick made it 40-14 Wildwood.
In all, Gibson finished with 143 yards on 17 carries.
“Offensive line did a great job of getting him some creases and that’s about all he needs,” Vester said, adding there is only one returner up front for Hamilton.
Whetsone added 42 yards rushing on nine carries, while Foster Bristol finished with 43 yards on seven rushes.
A talented Wildcats offense, though, gave Hamilton’s defense fits throughout.
After Hamilton picked up a first down on the game’s opening possession with a 10-yard Whetstone run, Kejuan Robinson fumbled near the end of a run close to the first down sticks near midfield.
On the ensuing play, Wildwood’s Oscene Mikell found Marcus Niblack deep on a jump ball and the Wildcats led 6-0. The duo connected twice more for scores, a 51-yarder to open the third quarter and then a 25-yard jump ball in between two defenders in the end zone midway through the third.
Mikell completed 10-of-11 passes for 232 yards and four touchdowns.
Wildwood racked up 509 yards of offense on just 26 plays.
“Very good team right there, no doubt,” Vester said. “That was a quality football team with some Division I receivers.”