PLAINVILLE — Plainville ran their way to a 50-14 Mid-Continent League victory over the Thomas More Prep-Marian Monarchs on Friday in Plainville.
A week after throwing for 505 yards, the Cardinals’ quarterback Hayden Friend and backfield mate Gabe Wilkens ran for more than 350 yards against a Monarch defense that tried to take away the Cardinals’ aerial attack.
Plainville’s ground game got off to a fast start, as Friend took the opening play for a 69-yard touchdown. “They (the offensive line) did all the work,” Friend said. “I had green grass in front of me. I just had to get on my horse and go.”
“We knew it was going to be a challenge to stop him (Friend),” TMP coach John Montgomery said. “He is fast enough that if he finds a little bit of a crease, there’s not anyone on the field that is going to catch him.”
TMP answered with a touchdown of its own on its first series. Senior running back TJ Flax started the game with a 9-yard run. On the second play, he busted loose for a 60-yard touchdown.
Both teams traded fumbles on the next two series before Friend broke free for a 52-yard touchdown to put the Cardinals ahead 14-7 after the first quarter.
Friend took to the air for his third touchdown in the first half. He connected on a 39-yard pass with junior receiver Ryan Buresh.
Plainville senior running back Gabe Wilkens reached the end zone for the first time this season with a 1-yard run to put the Cardinals ahead 26-7, going into halftime.
“I think he has been wanting to get in the end zone,” said first-year Plainville coach Grant Stephenson. “He’s been good running the ball for us in other games. He just hadn’t quite made it to that end zone yet.”
Wilkens returned to the end zone in the third quarter, scoring on 3- and 61-yard runs.
“He ran the football well tonight,” Stephenson said. “That is a guy who has never played running back before (this year). For him to be in a new position, he is playing very good for us.”
Friend and Wilkens teamed up to score the last points of the evening. Wilkens converted the two-point conversion after Friend reached the end zone on an 8-yard run.
The win was Plainville’s first under Stephenson, as the Cardinals moved to 1-3 overall and 1-2 in league play.
“We have been waiting for what seems like a long time for our first win,” said Stephenson. “We have been getting progressively better throughout the season, but we still have a long way to go.”
Flax led the TMP offensive attack with109 yards on the ground and a touchdown. He also had a fumble recovery and interception on the other side of the ball.
Plainville travels to play MCL power Norton next week.
TMP also sits at 1-3 on the season and host Cimarron on Friday.