Western Wayne made Donnie McDonough's coaching debut a big success.
When Donnie McDonough said that Jayson Figueroa would be his "go-to guy" on offense this year, he wasn't kidding.
Western Wayne's rookie head coach made a genuine attempt to run a balanced attack early on in Friday night's Week One game against Susquehanna.
However, with two young quarterbacks experiencing "first game jitters," Coach McDonough quickly went to Plan B: Power Football.
And, that meant a healthy dose of his "go-to guy."
From the middle of the opening stanza on, Figueroa simply shredded the Sabers' front seven.
By the time the final gun sounded, Western Wayne's senior tailback had carried the ball 24 times for an eye-popping 364 yards and two touchdowns.
"Jayson is the kind of kid who can take over a game," he said. "And, that's exactly what he did. Susquehanna is a pretty good team, but they just couldn't stop him."
Thanks in large part to Figueroa's electrifying performance, the 'Cats held on for a 25-20 Lackawanna Football Conference victory over the Sabers.
It also marked the first win of McDonough's varsity coaching career.
"Definitely an emotional night," he said. "It was kind of a nailbiter, but we hung on and I'm just happy to get that first one out of the way.
"Now I just hope we can keep that momentum going, learn from our mistakes and get ready for the next one."
Western Wayne's next assignment is a Week Two LFC battle with Scranton Prep.
That Division I-II crossover contest is slated for a 1:30 p.m. kick-off Saturday afternoon at Memorial Stadium.
Without question, the one overriding memory local fans will take away from this Opening Night victory is Western Wayne's utter dominance up front.
Figueroa was outstanding of that there can be no doubt. However, without an overpowering effort from the offensive line, Jayson's efforts would have been in vain.
Matt Witt (LT), Corey Wombacker (LG), Jake Nagle (C), Tyler Bergsma (RG) and Andrew Sledzinski (RT) combined to blow open huge holes in the Sabers' D-Line.
"Those kids really did a fantastic job blocking for all of our backs," said Coach McDonough. "They were the difference in the game."
Figueroa got things going late in the first quarter with a 65-yard touchdown run behind that line. Although the try for conversion failed, the 'Cats held that 6-0 lead into the third period.
Susquehanna finally got onto the board shortly after intermission when junior quarterback Austin White tallied the first of his three TD runs.
However, less than 20 seconds later, the Wildcats retaliated ... thanks once again to Figueroa.
Jayson rocketed to a 79-yard score, his longest run from scrimmage, giving the 'Cats a 12-6 advantage.
"I think one of the best aspects of Jayson's game is how well he sets up his blockers," said Coach McDonough.
"He hits the hole hard, but he can be patient, too. Jayson is really tough to bring down. He has a low center of gravity and runs right through arm tackles."
Kyle Smith also made his presence felt in the win over Susquehanna.
The junior quarterback capped a pair of Western Wayne drives with two short TD runs. The first came midway through the third quarter and the second late in the final stanza.
Susquehanna responded with two more tallies from its own signal caller.
White directed the Sabers trademark veer offense to perfection, scoring on a 1-yard plunge with 4:08 left in the third. He then tacked on one more TD with 2:41 remaining in regulation ... this one from 14 yards out.
Susquehanna running back Brett Hepler also turned in a solid outing, piling up 122 yards on just six carries.
Fortunately for a big, boisterous crowd at Sharkey Rosetti Memorial Stadium, Western Wayne held on for the 25-20 decision.
"The kids definitely met my expectations," Coach McDonough said. "This was a great first step for us, but we still have a long way to go. We really need a good week of practice to get ready for a very good Scranton Prep team."
Score by Quarters...
WW (1-0) 6 0 13 6 - 25
SUS (0-1) 0 0 13 7 - 20