WATTS — For the first time since the 2011 season, Welch has a win in its opener.

The Wildcats generated 431 yards in total offense during a 42-14 win over Watts here Friday, Sept. 1

“It’s been a long time we started off with a win in the season opener,” Welch head coach Ryan Gleaves said. “The last time we won our season opener, we went to the quarterfinals.”

The Wildcats rolled to a 54-14 win over Bluejacket in the first game of 2011.

They went on to face Laverne in the second round, falling 38-22.

Gunner Johnson ran for three touchdowns and passed for three more, two to Brace Welch.

“Gunner stepped it up,” Gleaves said. “We had a really hard time holding on to the football (losing four fumbles, including the opening kickoff). The only time we got stopped was when we fumbled. They didn’t get a defensive stop.”

Johnson had touchdown runs of 22, 7 and 9 yards on 12 carries. He finished with 180 yards.

“Gunner would up carrying the load for the most part, but he was the only one who didn’t cough the ball up,” Gleaves said.

Josh Baker added 82 yards and Jake Davis-Bissing chipped in with 42.

“Ball security is something we will really work on from this point forward,” Gleaves said.

Brace Welch reeled in TD passes of 15 and 38 yards in the third quarter, when the Cats bumped their lead to 32-8.

Braxton Turner accounted for the other Welch score, catching a –yard pass from Johnson in the second quarter.

Watts scored the game’s first touchdown then didn’t cross the goal line again until the fourth quarter on a fumble recovery.

“The game was a lot closer than it looks on the scoreboard, but also at the same time, it shouldn’t have been that close,” Gleaves said.

Johnson was 8 of 13 passing for 103 yards and the three scores.

Brace Welch had five receptions for 83 yards while Turner caught two passes for 18 yards and Tristan Davis had one catch for 7 yards.

“We were very physical,” Gleaves said. “They had a lot of guys hobbling. Two or three of their kids in the backfield rotated out.”

Davis-Bissing was Welch’s leading tackler with 13, including 10 solos.

Johnson logged 11 and Ethan Clark added six. Turner, Josh Baker and Ty Earp logged five apiece.

“We played a full four quarters, so we got some good conditioning out of it,” Gleaves said.

The Wildcats travel to Oaks Friday, Sept. 8.

Oaks dropped a 46-0 decision to Keota in its opener.