The Eagles' senior scored a rushing touchdown, threw for one and caught another touchdown pass — all in the first quarter.
WILSON — Thirty-six minutes after the game ended, the field at Skinny Stewart Stadium emptied.
The Wilson Eagles finished posing for pictures after their 52-6 win on senior night, which earned them a playoff berth for the first time in 16 years.
It was empty for about 30 seconds. At 9:40 p.m., Russell Vandeventer walked back onto the field, where he took a seat at the 40-yard line. Carson Fulton and Trevor Schaaf joined their teammate shortly thereafter.
Someone extinguished the lights at 9:43, plunging the stadium into darkness. On an overcast night, few stars' light penetrated the clouds.
Parked on the north side of the stadium, a car's headlights stretched across the field, its beam sprawled upon the field in front of it. The trio sat on the edge of the lights’ range. A couple minutes later, the light faded as the driver put the car in reverse and drove away.
Yet the three Wilson Eagles remained, soaking in the moment, Vandeventer said, talking about various subjects.
At 10:10, Fulton, Schaaf and Vandeventer decided to leave. Lying on his back staring at the sky at this point, Vandeventer asked his teammates to help him up.
The three teammates walked together to their respective pickup trucks and drove home.
While it's the final time Vandeventer and his eight senior teammates walked off their home field, their season lives on.
Blade Gray's 10-yard interception return for a touchdown invoked the mercy rule as Wilson won 52-6 Friday.
Bray-Doyle took a timeout before the final play.
“I just saw the screen and I knew what I was supposed to do: back up (from my defensive tackle position),” Gray said. “I got the ball and ran for a touchdown. It feels pretty good to know I won the last game here with a touchdown.”
The Eagles travel to Alex Friday.
But first things first.
For the rest of their lives, Hunter Chapman, Gray, Kason Hacker, Kaden Hunziker, Caleb Powell, Maliq Raymond, Jacob Richardson, Sammy Schiralli and Vandeventer will be known as the class that broke the Eagles’ drought.
“It’s a great way for the seniors to go out,” Wilson coach Eric Smith said. “They came out and played hard from the first snap. I’m extremely proud of those nine seniors. Some of them, this is the first time they played ball since third grade. … I’m just extremely proud of the way they finished.”
Wilson (2-8, 2-3) also started authoritatively and opportunistically. The Donkeys muffed the game’s two initial kickoffs. The Eagles converted both fumbles into points en route to outscoring the Donkeys 34-6 in the first quarter.
Clay Hodges, who scored the opening touchdown, laid the wood on a would-be tackler as Chapman scrambled back to his right. Chapman scored a 9-yard rushing touchdown on the play.
“Every time he (Chapman) moves around like that, I just look for it,” Hodges said of the opportunity to make a big block. “Poor kid.”
Chapman scored a rushing touchdown, threw for another score and caught a touchdown pass — all in the first quarter.
“It’s something I’m kind of proud of, I guess,” Chapman said, a grin on his face. “I’m happy about it.
“I’m happy about the win, though, mostly.”
Schiralli, who scored two touchdowns and a two-point conversion, praised his offensive linemen: guards Gray and Dylan Lambert, plus Vandeventer, the center.
“I’d like to thank the linemen. They did a heck of a job tonight.”
What was the best part about this win against Bray-Doyle (2-8, 0-5)?
“Just being able to watch my teammates score and (see) the running backs run right through the hole we made and they’re in the end zone real quick,” Vandeventer said.
Defensively, Trace McKinnon had a couple tackles for loss and recovered a fumble. Lambert — who also recovered one of the fumbled kickoffs — and Hunziker had one sack apiece. Hodges blocked a punt, which led to Schiralli’s second touchdown.
“I feel great. It’s overwhelming, really,” said Schiralli, who at 9:35 — 21 minutes after the game ended — acknowledged he would’ve retreated to the locker room sooner if the Eagles lost. “To have the last win and have all those plays, I mean, we looked great out there.”
Said Vandeventer, “I love my teammates. They’re my family. I wouldn’t do this without them.”