It looked like eight-man football between Peabody-Burns and Lebo on Friday, but the Warriors had an invisible advantage as they walloped the Wolves 62-14: They played with the hearts of 12 men on the field.
“We had two seniors (Brandon Entz and Cody Partridge) that couldn’t play their final game, and we were asked to put them in our hearts, and we did,” senior Clayton Philpott said. “Coach (David) Pickens, he didn’t get to play his senior year, either, and he asked if we had room for one more guy.”
To those three, Philpott added one more: his grandfather, Don Rosine. The former Peabody police chief, who died in September, was a 1955 Lebo High School graduate.
“We figured out that my grandpa played on this field,” Philpott said. “This is where he played his final senior game, and this is where I got to play mine. I just wanted to make it special.”
That he did, as Philpott ran over and around Lebo defenders for 244 yards and 5 touchdowns on 17 carries in just over two quarters of play.
The game ended midway through the third quarter when Bryant Young, getting his first start at quarterback, hit Austin Reynolds with a scoring pass that put the Warriors over the game-ending 45-point differential.
Philpott’s most dazzling score came in the second quarter, with the Warriors up 26-0. On second-and-10 from the Warriors 15-yard line, Philpott took the ball on a sweep around right end. Finding a wall of Wolves waiting, he reversed field, shook off a couple of would-be tacklers, and blazed down the left sideline for a touchdown.
Philpott was a demon on defense, too, leading the team with 8 tackles from his linebacker position, 7 of them solo.
“This is the last time he gets to put on that Warrior uniform, and he came to play,” Pickens said. “He played his heart out.”
Pickens wasn’t sure how his retooled lineup would perform, with Reynolds moving from quarterback to tight end to fill in for Partridge, and Austin Purk stepping in for Entz on the line, but he was happy with the results.
“Our line did a great job of knocking some holes,” he said. “We were able to dictate what we were going to do because our tight ends, center, and two guards blocked tremendously tonight.”
Young was 3-for-3 passing for 58 yards and a touchdown. He also scored on a 26-yard run.
“This is the very first time he took a snap all year long,” Pickens said. “In practice he does this kind of stuff to our starting defense all the time.”
The Warriors also got touchdowns from seniors Markus Knight and Corbin Rives.
The Wolves had a chance to keep the game close in the first quarter on first-and-goal at the Peabody 1, trailing 12-0. The Warriors held on first down, and a fumbled snap set up third-and-goal from the 12. Dakota Reynolds and Bailey Penner turned in one of the biggest defensive plays of the night, sacking Lebo’s quarterback for a 16-yard loss, and a fourth-down screen pass went nowhere.
Peabody-Burns responded with 20 unanswered points before Lebo finally got on the scoreboard, making the score 32-8.
“We were focused on shutting down the run and getting after the quarterback, and we did that pretty well all night long,” Pickens said.
While sitting out the game was hard, Entz had high praise for his teammates.
“They did dang well,” he said. “We came out and showed them what was going to happen in this game, and we carried that intensity throughout. We had a lot of young guys step up this week, and the future’s bright. I was proud to be on the sideline cheering them on.”
The Warriors finished the season 6-4.