David Harper snaked his way through the River Ridge offensive line. Untouched, the Timberline High linebacker zeroed in on the ball carrier.
The end result was an early 2-yard loss for the Hawks.
Harper did it again the very next play, setting the tone as his defensive cohorts quickly followed suit.
Forget scoring touchdowns, even first downs became hard to come by against this group.
The Blazers’ defense dictated the contest from the start, Gabe Gutierrez threw two touchdown passes to Stevie Cleveland, and No. 7 Timberline cruised to a 40-0 non-league victory against River Ridge on Friday at South Sound Stadium.
“I was just trying to take care of my responsibilities out there, make some plays and fly around,” said Harper, who also registered a sack and returned a fourth-quarter punt 50 yards for a touchdown. “It’s just an awesome way to start the season.”
Andrew Paquin, who didn’t enter the game until late in the second half, spearheaded the Blazers’ ground game, carrying
the ball 19 times for 143 yards and a touchdown.
Timberline (1-0) has won 12 straight against its cross-town rival, last losing in 1998, and leads the all-time series 16-2.
The Hawks (0-1) finished with 4 total yards on 39 plays.
River Ridge had its best scoring chance midway through the third quarter after recovering a Timberline fumble at the Blazers 16.
Timberline, however, turned the Hawks away on downs four plays later to preserve the shutout.
“I think we’ve been known as a defensive team the last few years,” Timberline coach Nick Mullen said. “The kids take a lot of pride playing on that side of the ball.”
Paquin’s 2-yard TD a minute into the fourth quarter pushed Timberline’s lead to 26-0.
Timberline led, 20-0, at halftime, taking advantage of a short field throughout the first two quarters, courtesy of a stingy defensive effort that forced the Hawks into three turnovers and a trio of three-and-outs.
River Ridge found little success on the ground against the Blazers’ front seven, running 17 times in the first half for minus-9 yards – 11 of those plays for negative or no yards.
Gutierrez completed just five of 13 pass attempts before halftime, but two of his completions went to Cleveland for scores.
Cory Becker, who split time at quarterback with Gutierrez, closed out the scoring in the first half with a 2-yard plunge.
The Blazers will look to improve to 2-0 for the first time since 2009 when they host Tumwater in a non-league contest next week, while River Ridge travels to play Sequim.