MILLERS CREEK - The saying is as old as the game itself - defense wins championships.
In Boonville, the Starmount defense is powering the club through the first eight weeks of the season with its sights set on a fifth-straight Mountain Valley Conference championship.
The lights-out Rams D was on full display Friday night, suffocating West Wilkes en route to a 42-3 victory.
“It was what I was expecting, a good physical game,” head coach Scott Johnson said. “Both teams ran the ball; they ran the ball a lot more than I expected. It was a tough, physical football game.”
Starmount forced three turnovers and limited the Blackhawks to just 151 yards of total offense, while allowing a lone 31-yard fourth-quarter field goal.
Offensively, the Rams racked up 303 yards of total offense, recording 221 yards on the ground.
Sergio Sarinara led the rushing attack with 60 yards on three carries, while Samuel Stone ran for 59 yards on four carries. Leading rusher Chaston Martin was held to a season-low nine yards, but 11 Rams ran the ball at least once in a balanced attack.
Stone and Trey Money combined for 82 yards through the air on 5-for-6 passing with Money connecting on a 46-yard touchdown strike to Martin.
Stone put the Rams on the board first, plunging in from one yard out on Starmount’s second possession of the game to make it 7-0 early.
After a West punt to midfield, Money hooked up with Martin down the right sideline on a 46-yard pass and catch out of the backfield on the first play of the second quarter to extend the lead out to 14-0.
On the next Blackhawk punt, a high snap downed the ball at the one yard line. On the next play, Brian King plowed in to push the lead to 21-0 late in the half.
After West recovered a fumble in Starmount territory, Josh Houser dragged down the quarterback, knocked the ball loose and recovered the fumble to keep the ‘Hawks out of the endzone.
On third-and-five, Stone broke free up the middle on a 50-yard run to the 10. Three plays later, Martin ran it in over left tackle to extend the lead out to 28-0.
West finally got on the board in the fourth after a Starmount fumble near midfield. Bryson Mosteller connected on a 31-yard field goal to prevent another Ram shutout.
Starmount responded less than a minute later when Sarinara took the handoff and darted through the ‘Hawk defense for a 55-yard score.
Jordan Carlton added another late score when he returned a shanked punt 10 yards to the house as the Rams cruised to the 42-3 victory.
With the win, Starmount remained perfect on the year at 7-0 overall and 5-0 in the Mountain Valley Conference.
The Rams defense held their opponent out of the endzone for the fifth-straight game, allowing a total of six points over those five contests. Starmount has given up just 27 points on the year.
“Our mindset is to get better every week,” Johnson said. “We’re working on correcting some things and getting better on our offensive line. One our goals is two-platoon completely, and we’re almost there. When you do that, you’re going to have to have some guys to step up in roles that they’re not used to. It’s a work in progress still.
“We want to be playing our best football in November. We’re just trying to get better every game; try to improve and see what we can do,” he added.
The Rams return to the field Friday when they host North Wilkes in Week Nine.
Reach Matthew Gorry at 835-1513 or firstname.lastname@example.org.