High School Sports

Week 3: Takeaways from high school football in the Olympia area

North Thurston running back Jase Marcott tries to break away from Peninsula defender Ben Goins during Thursday night’s 3A SSC league opener football game at Roy Anderson Field in Gig Harbor on Sept. 19, 2019.
North Thurston running back Jase Marcott tries to break away from Peninsula defender Ben Goins during Thursday night’s 3A SSC league opener football game at Roy Anderson Field in Gig Harbor on Sept. 19, 2019. toverman@theolympian.com

Week 3 of the high school football season is in the books. Here are some takeaways from the third week of action from the Olympia area.

NORTH THURSTON SEES PROGRESS, DESPITE LOSS TO PENINSULA

North Thurston High School was realistic about its 2-0 start.

The Rams had pounded West Seattle, 43-7, and Port Angeles, 55-7. But they clobbered those teams in 2018, too, and never won again.

They knew their Thursday night road match-up with defending 3A South Sound Conference champion Peninsula in a steady drizzle would present a steeper challenge.

Peninsula scored a decisive 38-12 victory. But, numerically, that was a step up from last season’s 41-0 home loss to the Seahawks, and first-year coach Terry Shaw saw positives to build from.

“There were a lot of bright spots. We didn’t come and get waxed,” he said. “We’re playing the defending league champs, a well-coached team with really good players. We’re literally in Week 3 of this offense, this defense, the whole thing. I’m proud of our players.”

Peninsula took the opening kickoff and rapidly marched 65 yards on 7 plays, scoring the game’s first touchdown on 10-yard pass from Peyton Bice to Chase Wittmers. The pair would account for eight completions and 132 yards on the night.

Rams starting quarterback Keeton Maggard had missed a practice with a wrist injury earlier in the week, so Zach Porter, usually a running back, was under center when the game began. He got North Thurston off to a great start with a keeper off a read play, gaining 25 yards.

But the Rams drive stalled, and after a Maggard punt, Peninsula quickly found the end zone again, moving 59 yards on 8 plays, scoring on a 4-yard run by Sean Skladany, who finished the night with 100 yards on 16 carries.

The Seahawks scored again on the first play of the second quarter, on a one-yard run by Sean Leonard that followed quickly on the heels of a Rams’ fumble. Each team would turn the ball over four times, both tossing two interceptions and losing two fumbles.

“It might have had a little something to do with the wet, but I think both teams were kind of sloppy handling the ball,” Shaw said. “We both practice in the rain, so that’s really not an excuse.”

The Rams first touchdown came via a 33-yard interception return by Brigg Hood early in the second quarter. But Peninsula retook a three-touchdown lead, 28-6, before halftime when Leonard scored on another short run.

After losing a fumble of its own on the first possession of the second half, North Thurston got the ball back when Tannar Lee recovered a Bice fumble at the Seahawks’ four. Two hard carries by Kris Hernandez punched the ball into the end zone.

North Thurston would get no closer but kept battling.

“We were still playing hard with a minute to go,” said Shaw. “We tackled way better in the second half. Sometimes that’s all it is, let’s get after it and stick to what we do.”

The Rams appeared to suffer dual blows when both quarterbacks were injured on back-to-back fourth-quarter plays. Porter twisted his back and Maggard banged his shoulder, but Shaw doesn’t anticipate losing either for long.

TUMWATER’S VERSATILITY KEEPS BIRDS UNBEATEN

Winless Bellarmine Prep had just enough ideas for its defensive game plan to slow down Tumwater’s wing-T running game. The Lions couldn’t prevent the T-Birds from winning, 27-14, but they did force Tumwater to show its improving passing game more than once.

The T-Birds churned out 214 rushing yards — paced by senior Dylan Paine’s 95 yards on 21 carries — and strung together a pair of long drives to burn out the clock in the fourth quarter, staving off a Bellarmine comeback bid.

“Bellarmine had a heck of a game plan,” T-Birds coach Bill Beattie said. “I’m proud of our kids, the way they battled back at the end. I’m glad to get out of here with a win.”

The Lions remembered last season’s Week 3 loss in Tumwater when the T-Birds piled up more than 400 rushing yards and were aiming to avoid defeats similar to Tumwater’s first two opponents this season. The T-Birds blew by both Timberline (55-0) and Yelm (54-27).

“Their offense is known statewide because it’s been so successful for years,” Bellarmine sophomore Tariq May said. “We watched film, for sure, and we found their weak points. We had to be in the right place at the right time. That’s always the goal.”

“They came out strong,” Paine said. “They’re a tough team.”

In what turned out to be a balanced offensive attack, junior quarterback Cody Whalen completed 13 of 19 passes for 154 yards, mostly to sophomore tight end Austin Terry, who hauled in six passes for 116 yards.

“It was great being able to throw the ball, but it wouldn’t be (set) up without our run game,” Tumwater sophomore Austin Terry said. “Our run game is what sets everything up.”

Whalen and Terry connected for a 22-yard gain on Tumwater’s first drive that set up Paine’s 2-yard touchdown plunge. Two drives later, the pair hooked up again on a 64-yard pass just before Turner Allen swept around the right side for a 9-yard score.

Whalen and Terry gave the T-Birds a seemingly commanding 20-0 lead on a 3-yard pass just before the first half expired.

Beattie said the added wrinkle of an increased passing threat wasn’t so much if the T-Birds want to throw more, but when they want to throw it.

“We’re trying to be strategic when we throw the ball,” Beattie said. “Not wait until it’s third-and-10 all the time.”

As exciting as taking to the air is, Tumwater won’t soon abandon what’s worked for four decades.

“Tumwater’s going to be a run-first team,” Beattie said. “That formula has worked for a long, long time, so we’re going to keep with it.”

“We’re feeling good through the first three,” Terry said. “We just want to keep it going, keep it rolling through league, into the playoffs and hopefully make a good state run.”

BEARCATS RISE TO 3-0 WITH ROUT OF HUDSON’S BAY

Doing most of its damage through the air, W.F. West blew past host Hudson’s Bay, 51-7, in the early game at the Kiggins Bowl.

Josiah Johnson completed 13 passes, five for touchdowns, for 235 yards.

Cade Haller caught two of the touchdown strikes while Max Taylor, Jayden Camoza and Leandre Gaines grabbed one each.

The Bearcats defense held Hudson’s Bay to 115 yards of total offense and kept the Eagles scoreless until the fourth quarter.

ELMA STUNNED ON THE ROAD IN OVERTIME

One team got its first win of the season, the other its first defeat as Aberdeen shocked Elma in a 32-26 double overtime thriller at Stewart Field.

Brady Shriver’s three rushing touchdowns, including one in overtime, highlighted an Elma offense that fell short in a matchup with one 2A Evergreen Conference team a week after putting up 63 points in a win over another, on the road at Rochester.

Elma trailed 20-12 late in regulation. They tied the game on a two-point conversion following a 2-yard touchdown pass from Cody Vollan to Noah Huttula and stopped a potential game-winning Bobcat drive.

Aberdeen scored first in overtime, but Elma matched by converting two fourth-down plays on its way to a 1-yard score by Shriver.

Taking the ball first in the second OT, the Eagles turned the ball over. Ethan Morrill ended the game with a 15-yard scoring run.

In other games involving area 2A and 1A schools, Prairie blew out Black Hills, 56-14, Rochester was shut out by Bremerton, 42-0, River Ridge got its first win of the season, 48-28 over Foster, and Tenino lost to Castle Rock, 56-29.

HIGH-SCORING LINEMAN LIFTS YELM TO FIRST WIN

The Tornados got their first victory on their newly-installed artificial turf, blanking Central Kitsap, 28-0.

Bradley McGannon continued an unusual run for a player typically deployed as a lineman, scoring on both a return of a recovered fumble and a three-yard run. The touchdowns gave The 6-foot-3, 255-pound senior a total of four for the season. The other two came on short runs against Skyview in Yelm’s season opener.

Ben Hoffmann threw touchdown passes for the Tornados other scores, a 15-yarder to Sylas Franklin and an 85-yarder to Carson Amendt.

In other games involving local 3A SSC teams, Capital got its first victory of the season with a 50-20 rout of visiting Shelton and Timberline was thumped on the road by Gig Harbor, 42-7, at Roy Anderson Field.

TNT reporter Lauren Smith contributed to this story.

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