ARGYLE — On a night when Argyle’s offense struggled to get going, its defense and special teams more than picked up the slack.
Reese Thompson returned a punt 86 yards for a touchdown, and Connor Wilson intercepted three passes and recovered a fumble for the Eagles en route to a 42-6 win over Wilmer-Hutchins on Friday night at Eagle Stadium.
“I don’t think I’ve ever had this many returners that are this good — interceptions, punt returns, kickoff returns — they just do a good job,” Argyle head coach Todd Rodgers said. “The blocking is great. We have great guys who can run and block on that stuff, too. They aren’t doing it by themselves.”
Through five games this season, Argyle (4-1) has six touchdowns off of returns from special teams or on defense, and it’s no coincidence.
“We definitely take pride in our punt return,” junior linebacker Sam Sizelove said. “We work on that a lot. We work on setting up the wall and making sure they have running lanes. As far as kickoff return goes, we just have freak athletes back there.”
Thompson’s punt return touchdown in the first quarter added to Ian Sadler’s two punt return scores and one kickoff return for a touchdown.
“We practice that stuff a lot,” Rodgers said. “I think that’s the kind of people we have, too. There’s an emphasis on it. It’s a joy for those kids to do that. They look forward to it. They’re good at it, too. I can’t say enough about the people we have back there.”
Argyle managed only 108 total yards in the first half but got the benefit of a short field and took advantage of turnovers by Wilmer-Hutchins (3-2).
In the second half, the Argyle offense got going as running back Nick Ralston finished with 95 yards on the ground and two second-half touchdowns.
Wilson, a move-in from Coppell who now has six interceptions on the season, returned one 49 yards for an Argyle score in the third quarter.
Sizelove said that coming into the season, the team’s secondary was one of the question marks of its defense. That is no longer the case.
“We were weak at secondary starting the season,” Sizelove said, “and we got a move-in from Coppell, and I heard he was a pretty good athlete. I didn’t know he would be this good though. He’s dominant in our defense. He’s just making tons of plays.”
Wilson wasn’t the only Argyle defender making plays, as its defensive front was in the backfield all night long and was a thorn in the side of the Wilmer-Hutchins’ rushing attack, which was held to 130 yards on 48 carries.
Senior defensive lineman Wood Speed had three sacks on the night to tie a school single-game record and a new plan from the Argyle coaching staff paid dividends.
“We played two more defensive linemen than we did last week, so we tried to rotate and rest them and try to get as much production as we could out of them,” Rodgers said. “That plan obviously worked. That was a good plan and those kids benefitted from getting out there and getting quality playing time.”
Argyle, which opened its season with a 31-14 loss to Abilene Wylie that temporarily knocked them out of the Class 3A Associated Press state poll, has now reeled off four straight wins — all in convincing fashion.
In those four games, Argyle has outscored its opponents 155-34.
“We got exposed [against Abilene Wylie],” Rodgers said. “When you lose you get exposed, and you find flaws and get a lot of self-evaluation done. There were some flaws in our teaching, so you make all those corrections and you move forward.”
ADAM BOEDEKER can be reached at 940-566-6872.
Argyle 42, Wilmer-Hutchins 6
A — Brandon Boyzuick 7 run (Cole Hedlund kick), 9:35
A — Ian Sadler 16 pass from Boyzuick (Hedlund kick), 8:06
A — Reese Thompson 86 punt return (Hedlund kick), 1:10
WH — Money Peterson 3 run (pass failed), 2:11
A — Connor Wilson 49 interception return (Hedlund kick), 9:33
A — Nick Ralston 27 run (Hedlund kick), 2:48
A — Ralston 14 run (Hedlund kick), 11:31
Rushing — WH: Justin Halter 11-(-9), Money Peterson 16-53, Jaylon Cummings 4-0, Xavier Giles 6-25, LaDraylon Battie 10-76, TEAM 1-(-15). A: Nick Ralston 13-95, Ian Sadler 4-61, Brandon Boyzuick 3-10, Jon Pucciarello 2-12, Brayden Helliker 3-14, Terry Moore 3-21.
Passing — WH: Justin Halter 5-16-3-83, LaDraylon Battie 1-6-0-17. A: Brandon Boyzuick 8-17-1-81.
Receiving — WH: DeMarcus Mitchell 1-40, Christian Hicks 2-16, Keyshawn Henderson 1-18, Jermaine Simpson 2-26. A: Nick Ralston 1-7, Chance Bode 4-19, Ian Sadler 2-40, Blake Lyle 1-15.