Carson Bertelli didn’t take long to make his mark as Capital High School’s starting quarterback.
Only 29 seconds into his first full game as a replacement for the injured Grant Erickson, Bertelli faked a handoff to Chris Penner and ran up the middle for a 58-yard touchdown.
Bertelli and the Cougars rolled to a 42-0 victory over North Thurston in Class 3A South Sound Conference action Friday night at Ingersoll Stadium.
“We ran the fly, and the whole defense went the other way,” Bertelli said.
Things went Bertelli’s and the Cougars’ way the rest of the night. The 5-foot-9 senior rushed nine times for 61 yards and, after starting the game with five consecutive incompletions, bounced back to complete 9 of 16 passes for 183 yards and two touchdowns.
“For Carson to step in and do so well is a big deal,” Capital coach John Johnson said after his team improved to 2-2 (1-1 3A SSC). “He’s a very savvy young man, a pleasure to coach.”
Johnson was happy with his running back corps as starter Nathan Tyler carried 18 times for 113 yards and two touchdowns before giving way to a pair of sophomores. Eric Jackson carried nine times for 58 yards and a score, and Teagan Ralph had six carries for 43 yards.
“The future looks pretty good,” Johnson said.
The Cougars took advantage of a favorable bounce on a Rams punt that gave them good field position to score their second touchdown. Taking over at the North Thurston 38, Capital needed eight plays to score when Tyler went into the end zone standing up from a yard away.
The conversion turned into an unintentional two-pointer when holder Bertelli decided to run after fielding a high snap and went into the end zone untouched.
After a three-and-out by North Thurston, Capital struck quickly to go up 22-0.
Bertelli found Penner ahead of four Rams defenders for a 61-yard gain on the first play of the drive, and two plays later Chris Schnellman hauled in a pass from Bertelli — tipped by a North Thurston defender — for a 9-yard touchdown.
The Rams (1-3, 0-2) got as close to the red zone as they would before halftime thanks to back-to-back sacks of Bertelli by Hunter Prida and Ryan Field and a failed fake-punt pass by Penner. Taking over at the Capital 49, North Thurston moved to the 23, where the Rams faced fourth-and-9.
Quarterback Clayton Christian rolled right and threw into the end zone, but was intercepted by Capital’s Regan Divina — the first of two picks he would have on the night. Six plays later, with only seconds left in the half, Bertelli found Penner single-covered and delivered a 38-yard touchdown pass.
Bertelli wasn’t surprised to be able to find receivers downfield.
“I played some last year when we had injuries, and I’ve been a quarterback my whole life, so I wasn’t nervous,” he said.
Capital mixed in two completions by Bertelli — one to Schnellman and one to Chase Martin — with seven carries by Tyler to march 65 yards in nine plays to take a 35-0 lead with 6:02 left in the third quarter.
The clock started to run just only 48 seconds into the fourth quarter after a 1-yard run by Jackson put Capital up 42-0. Jackson carried seven times, gaining 57 yards on the drive.
North Thurston had an injury replacement of its own. With workhorse running back Ryan Sherrer out with an ankle sprain, senior Rudy Adams was called on to do most of the work. Adams carried 25 times for 71 yards, and made several tackles on defense.
C – Carson Bertelli 58 run (Chris Penner kick)
C – Nathan Tyler 1 run (Bertelli run)
C – Chris Schnellman 9 pass from Bertelli (Penner kick)
C – Penner 38 pass from Bertelli (Penner kick)
C – Tyler 4 run (kick failed)
C – Eric Jackson 1 run (Penner kick)