Unless it's an absolute blowout, you hate to see a team exploring its depth in the opening game of the 2018 prep football season.
For the Skyline Falcons, that scenario came to fruition way sooner than anyone could imagine as senior quarterback Nate McGregor was injured in the second quarter of their home opener against Class 5A Westminster.
However, sophomore Chase Silva managed to be cool and collected in McGregor's stead, and with the weapons surrounding him for support, special teams contributing to the scoreboard and a defensive effort that indicated a determination to improve on last year, everything came together in a 42-21 win at Everly-Montgomery Field.
Jack Wathen scored three times, including on a 97-yard kickoff return to begin the second half, and Silva went 9-for-12 for 134 yards and a touchdown pass in relief of McGregor, giving the No. 10-ranked Falcons continued reason to believe they are deep.
"When Nate went down, I just knew I had to have that next man up mentality, but the offensive line played great and the skill guys just helped me out so much," Silva said after the victory. "It just all started to flow after that first drive."
It wasn't all pretty, as openers tend not to be, but the Falcons never were really threatened even with a slow start.
Eventually, they were able to open things up with their short-pass attack and let their athletes on the outside make plays.
Wathen started the scoring on Skyline's second series with a catch-and-scamper of 25 yards after Jeremy Hollingsworth's first big run of the night, and a slip-screen to Kyle West exploited the Westy defense to the tune of 91 yards with 2 minutes, 27 seconds to go in the first quarter to make it 13-0.
That was still while McGregor was active, but an ankle injury to the senior put the young Silva in the spotlight, and there was no hesitation to let him utilize his arm.
He hit his receivers in stride on a couple of slant plays over the middle, and his touchdown in the third quarter went to Wathen and was good for 51 yards.
Special teams play and defense kept just enough good things happening for SHS that Westy never got closer than 13-7.
A long punt return from West set up a 5-yard touchdown run late in the second quarter, giving way to a big momentum shift when Wathen went virtually untouched on the kickoff following halftime.
Silva's confidence shot up immediately, and he finished with five straight completions before Creighton Trembley came in to finish off the game.
"Our offense was clicking, but our defense was great," Silva said.
Defensively, Ethan Drewes and his teammates ate up a fatigued Westminster front in the second half, practicing an aggressive mentality from the outset.
Junior Will Drewes, Austin Robison and Dylan Bartels led the charge in the front seven.
"We just had more intensity everywhere and obviously had guys step up when we needed it," Ethan Drewes said. "For us on defense, it's show up and show out, all out. Aggressive. Good things will happen when you play intense."
There was no timetable on McGregor's return, but he rested on crutches on the sidelines.
Skyline 42, Westminster 21
At Everly-Montgomery FieldWestminster (0-1)0768—21Skyline (1-0)138210—42
Skyline — Jack Wathen 25 pass from Nate McGregor (Ben Kalishar kick) Skyline — Kyle west 91 pass from McGregor (kick blocked).
Westminster — Matt Harris 48 pass from Romeo Rodriguez (kick good). Skyline — Jeremy Hollingsworth 5 run (Austin Robison pass from Chase Silva).
Skyline — Wathen 97 kickoff return (Kalishar kick). Skyline — Wathen 51 pass from Silva (Kalishar kick). Westminster — Harris 29 pass from Rodriguez (kick failed). Skyline — Hollingsworth 12 run (Kalishar kick).
Westminster — Nathan Silva 25 run (Ethan Stadler pass from Rodriguez)