SHELTON – Don’t put too much stock into Shelton High football team’s 2-8 record from last season.
Three games into the season, the Highclimbers look to be championship worthy. Behind Ralph Kinne’s 359 yards rushing and Deshon Bell’s three touchdowns, Shelton rallied past Wilson, 35-25, in the Narrows League 3A opener for both schools on Friday.
“This is basically the same group of players we had last year,” Shelton coach Matt Hinkle said. “They fought and scrapped all last year and worked hard in the offseason to get to this point. I’m very proud of them.”
Shelton improved to 3-0 for the first time since 2004, when the Highclimbers went 9-0 during the regular season before losing in the state preliminary round.
There has yet to be a defense to slow Kinne, as he ground out his best performance of the young season on 42 carries. Friday’s effort topped the 328 yards he gained in an opening week victory over Tumwater and the 209 yards on limited carries in last week’s win over North Mason.
Still it was the Rams (2-1) who led at halftime, 18-7.
Then came the third quarter. Kinne scored on a 5-yard run to start a 22-point outburst, highlighted by two scoring runs by Bell of 13 and 59 yards.
Bell also piled up the yards, gaining 179 on 13 carries. His third TD of the game, a 40-yard run with three minutes, 50 seconds left to play, gave Shelton a comfortable 10-point margin.
“I didn’t really say anything to them at the half,” Hinkle said. “We were just able to eliminate the first-half mistakes and take advantage of some opportunities. That’s a very good Wilson team. Their quarterback was unbelievable tonight.”
Shelton needed its running game to offset a big night by Wilson quarterback Moses Lewis, who threw for 298 yards and three touchdowns on 25-of-41 accuracy.
Ben Matz was his favorite target, pulling in 10 catches for 124 yards and two touchdowns.
Lewis, who threw for 119 yards and two TDs in the opening half, hit Conner Patterson on a 7-yard scoring strike before connecting with Matz on a 19-yard touchdown pass 2 minutes later as the Rams took an 18-7 lead.
The Highclimbers marched 79 yards in 11 plays on their opening possession to grab a 7-0 lead. Michael Sobotka capped the scoring drive by hauling in a 10-yard touchdown pass from Jared Welander. Kinne was the workhorse, rushing six times for 54 yards.