The debut of Pope's slick artificial surface checkmated the debut of Wheeler coach Mike Collins as the Grey-hounds danced up and down the new fake grass to the tune of a 21-6 season-opening victory Friday night over the visiting Wildcats.
Make that six straight wins for coach Matt Kemper's squad, which also made its debut as a member of Class AAAA, and a near-duplication of last year's 24-0 verdict over Wheeler, which suffered its 22nd consecutive loss.
With quarterback Holland Frost lobbing a pair of second-period touchdown passes and then capping the evening with a 24-yard scoring burst in the fourth period, the Greyhounds kept Wheeler in check for most of the game.
"That Wheeler team is dangerous, and we didn't really put them away until the last couple of minutes," said Kemper. "We had to keep doing what we were doing to try to control the ball and the clock and keep the ball away from them."
What the Greyhounds did was take advantage of a significant weight disparity on the line of scrimmage, as Pope's Dylan Hornor, Trevor Buhr and Thomas O'Reilly blew large holes in the Wildcats' defensive front for Frost to run through for 117 yards on 19 carries to accompany his 126 passing yards.
For the Wildcats, an inspiring offensive drive that consumed half of the third period was encouraging and offered a glimpse of hope.
After Pope's Alex Kviklys came up short on a 30-yard field goal attempt with 6:10 left in the third quarter, the Wildcats took the ball at the 20 and terminated in the Pope end zone 13 plays and 6:07 later on a 1-yard dive by quarterback Jamal Bryant to pull Wheeler within 14-6.
"We're going to smile about the second half," said Collins, who must wait at least another week to end Wheeler's losing streak. "We did a few things right in the first half, but penalties and that misfired punt hurt us."
Kelvin Ofie's 10-yard punt set up Pope on the Wildcats' 47 with only 1:41 left in the first half, and the Grey-hounds made Wheeler pay for that shortcoming. Frost found Garrett Brown for 7 yards, Myles Everett for 31 yards and then Hank Strmac for an 8-yard touchdown toss with 38 seconds before intermission.
Frost then threaded a line drive to Everett for the two-point conversion, compensating for Kviklys' wide-right ex-tra point attempt after Frost's 49-yard scoring pass to Brown earlier in the period.
"There is a lot we can build on," said Collins. "We had some good ball control in the second half. "Our fullback (Hakim Shahid) started banging for yards in there, and he's going to carry the ball more."
Shahid gathered most of his 68 rushing yards in the second half, and received support from Dykari Dickey's 55 yards.
Frost broke up the middle to score from 24 yards out with 3:14 left, and Kviklys converted the PAT for the final score.