Quarterback Max Carevic completed 23 of 36 passes for 279 yards and four touchdowns Friday for the Dukes.
But Wellington’s defense was worn down in the second half, ending in a 42-26 loss on the road to the Chippewa Chipps in the season opener.
“I took a lot of hits tonight and it added up after a while,” said Carevic, a senior. “It took away from my ability to contribute on defense. We can all perform better as a group. We’ll watch some film this week and see what needs to be corrected.”
He completed two of his touchdown passes to fellow senior Trevor Porter, who finished with eight catches and 136 yards. Porter’s first score was a 67-yard run after the catch where his speed took away tackling angles from six Chippewa defenders.
“I’m happy to make some plays but we didn’t execute like we can on offense,” Porter said. “We were yelling out some of their plays when we were on defense but were unable to do anything about it.”
Chippewa jumped out to a 14-0 lead after a 94-yard rushing touchdown that saw running back Luke Brown cover 74 of those yards before he fumbled at the Dukes’ 20. Teammate Elijah Westfall then picked up the ball and ran into the endzone.
Wellington got on the board with Porter’s long catch, but gave up another TD before the half. While trailing 42-14 in the fourth quarter, the Dukes managed to put up two late scores — a 41-yard pass to junior Parker Rieske and one-yard run by Carevic — but it was too late to be anything but cosmetic.
Dukes head coach Sean Arno said much of Chippewa’s scoring came due to momentary lapses.
“It’s assignment and alignment problems,” he said. “We gave them three scores. One of those was an alignment issue, one we don’t cover the edge, and the other we knew they were going to run verticals and we didn’t cover deep. That’s 21 points. Take that off the board and we win. Those are three spotted touchdowns. It’s about the details. That’s it.”
There were also encouraging signs for the rest of the season.
“These kids continue to fight,” he said. “No one gave up and everyone continued to hit until the end. There’s no quit in this team, but we have to execute the little things. The talent is here but we have to get disciplined and make sure we do what we’ve been coached to do.”
Dukes varsity boys basketball coach Dan Gundert was one of many district sports officials on the sidelines to provide support during a tough road contest and amidst the distraction of bleacher construction at Wellington High School Stadium.
“A lot of people in our town have a great deal of pride,” he said. “They want to see this thing get turned around the right way. The kids want to be able to play on our home field. Morale seems to be pretty high on the sidelines.”
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.
Photos by Jonathan Delozier | Wellington Enterprise The Dukes managed some big plays, but gave up too many to the Chippewa Chipps in Friday’s 42-26 season opening loss.