STORY BY CORY WOODROOF | PHOTOS BY STEVE WHEELER
The poor cannon operator at Battle Ground Academy might’ve been the hardest-working Wildcat around Friday night.
He had to sound the school’s patented cannon booms aplenty throughout Guffee-Brown Stadium as BGA blasted visiting Silverdale, who lost their starting quarterback early, 51-14.
The win gives BGA its first win of the postseason and advances them on.
The Seahawks defense had no virtually match for Wildcats junior QB Nick Semptimphelter and junior wideout Antonio Stevens in the blowout win.
Semptimphelter accounted for 270 yards and five touchdowns, four of which went right to Stevens. He had 152 yards overall on the night to go with the four touchdown catches.
“I was just doing what I’m coached to do,” Stevens said of his huge performance. “I have my other wide receivers and the line blocking for me, so it just came.”
Both guys earned a deserved half-game off, as head coach Roc Batten pulled his starters when the team went up 45-0 early in the third quarter.
“Starting with the first series on defense, I thought we set a really great tone in terms of being physical, taking out a lot of things they did really well,” Batten said. “Our offense was able to put up points really early.
“I was really proud of this, our entire team effort.”
For a half, it was all BGA, as the visiting Silverdale struggled to acclimate to the positional change.
Georgia Tech commit Chico Bennett Jr. contributed with 64 yards and a score, and Briston Bennett guided the ground game with 61 rushes on five attempts. Kaleb Seay scored a short touchdown to go along with his 13 yards.
The win was Semptimphelter’s first time behind center as a starter in the playoffs.
“I was definitely a little nervous,” he said about the pre-game jitters. “But once we got rolling, and once we got our offense going, it felt good.”
The signal caller doesn’t take for granted what it means to have so many potential options in his offensive arsenal.
“It’s great. We have so many weapons,” he said. “It’s great having all the pieces come together offensively tonight.”
The Wildcats can enjoy this one for the weekend, but Monday will kick off a road schedule for practice. The team will advance to Knoxville Webb for an away D-II Class AA Round 2 meeting.
That team finished the year 5-5, giving it a bit of an odd optic for an 8-2 regular season two-seed to have to travel, though Batten doesn’t see them as anything but a dangerous competitor with shared November history.
“We’ve seen them a lot in the postseason,” Batten said. “They’re not your typical 6-5 football team…they have a lot of talent. They’re a very explosive, physical team, and we’ve got a lot of work to do this week to prepare for them, and we’ve got to get ready and get on the road and play a really talented Knoxville Webb team who can score at any point and shut people down.
“I’m going to get our guys ready and have a great week of practice and go down there and have a great game plan and try and get after them.”
“We’ve got to stay focused,” Semptimphelter added. “Road games are always tough, especially in Knoxville. [We’ve] got to stay focused and prepare well because they’re a good, disciplined team. I’m excited, though.”