In the minutes before the Owen Warhorses hosted the Madison Patriots, Nov. 8, for their final regular season game, the team recognized the 11 seniors who were suiting up for the last time in Warhorse Stadium.
As the opening kickoff went up, the Warhorses celebrated Senior Night with a bang.
Owen finished the regular season 6-4 with a 62-8 victory over the Patriots, earning a Friday, Nov. 14 trip to Oakboro, where they will face West Stanly in the first round of the NCHSAA state playoffs.
Owen eclipsed its season-high in scoring for the second consecutive week, lighting up the scoreboard early against Madison, which came into the contest 0-10.
The Warhorses put up 34 points in the opening quarter, as quarterback Caleb Scott surpassed 1,000 passing yards for the season, finishing with 5 completions on 8 attempts for 169 yards and 3 touchdowns. The junior also picked up 39 rushing yards on one carry that resulted in a touchdown.
Scott was one of seven Owen players to get into the end zone against the Patriots defense.
Senior Devon Jennings scored on one of his 6 carries for 78 yards while junior Dequan Boyce led the Warhorses with 90 yards on 3 carries, including a 41-yard touchdown run. He would finish the evening with 2 rushing touchdowns.
Junior Shavoy Harding picked up his fourth rushing touchdown of the season, while Blake Roberts picked up his fifth. Roberts also hauled in his first receiving touchdown of the campaign.
Senior Fred Graves led the Warhorses in receiving, pulling in 2 catches for 74 yards and a touchdown. Zebulan Lord celebrated his final home game as a Warhorse with 2 catches for 71 yards and his first receiving touchdown of the season.
The Warhorses carried a 48-0 lead into the half, and as temperatures plummeted into the 20s, head coach Nathan Padgett allowed his starters to keep warm on the sideline throughout the second half.
The Owen reserves continued to stifle the Madison offense, which finally reached the end zone in the fourth quarter.
"Any time you can end a season with a win, it's important," Padgett said after the game. "A lot of these young men have been with us for four years, and they've given everything they have to this program, our school and community. Sending them off with a win is a special feeling, and it's something they'll always remember."
Owen, which finished the season with its best record since 2014, scored 112 points in its final two games.
"We told our guys all week that we wanted to come out here, focus on ourselves, be physical and play our style of football," Padgett said. "We did that early on, and we were able to control the line of scrimmage, offensively and defensively."
The 6-4 mark represents Padgett's first winning record as the Warhorse head coach.
"I'm super proud of these kids tonight," he said. "I'm proud of our coaching staff, too. This is big for our community, so we're proud to see these players accomplish that."
Owen is seeded number 9 heading into the first round of the playoffs to face number 8 West Stanly. The Colts finished the regular season with an 8-2 record, going 2-2 in the Rocky River Conference. West Stanly fell, 18-17, in its Nov. 8 regular season finale against Mount Pleasant.
The Warhorses will look to keep the momentum going as they enter the postseason.
"At this point in the season, you want to be firing on all cylinders," Padgett said. "I feel like we're starting to peak as a team, and we have to continue that. When you're in the playoffs, it's one-and-done. So we're going to come out this week, have another great week of practice and prepare."