|10/3/2012 1:40:00 PM|
Kodiaks use second half surge to defeat Goats 54-19
|Photo by Ian Dunn|
Sophomore Dennis Merritt sprints to the pylon in second half action against the Chelan Goats Saturday Night in Peshastin. The Kodiaks scored 35 unanswered points in the second half to beat the Goats 54-19. Cascade is now 3-0 in league play with a game at Tonasket on Friday.
The game seemed to still be in the balance at halftime, tied 19-19 last Saturday night in Peshastin. But the second half was a different story as the Cascade Kodiaks came out and dominated the Chelan Goats, scoring 35 unanswered points to win 54-19.
The victory was ever so sweet for a variety of reasons. First, the Kodiaks improved to 3-0 in Caribou Trail League play with the win. Second, last year's 60-0 defeat at the hands of the Goats was pretty humbling. Thirdly, Cascade had not beaten Chelan since 2008.
"The last time we beat Chelan our seniors were freshman. It is a pretty bitter pill to swallow considering the success we've had against Chelan the past 25-to-30 years," said Elia Ala'ilima-Daley, Cascade head coach. "Same time, I am proud of the guys for executing like we asked them and getting another league win."
It should be noted Chelan was playing without their all star quarterback Michael Amsel, who failed to gain approval from WIAA to play in the game. No doubt, his participation would have made a difference. It may not have changed the outcome, but it would certainly have made a difference.
Cascade jumped on the board first with a six play, 30 yard drive in the first quarter as senior Elijah Nash scored from three yards out. The extra point was blocked, so the Kodiaks led 6-0.
Chelan came back in the second quarter with a 15-play, 81 drive for a touchdown. With the extra point, they grabbed the lead 7-6. The Goats extended the lead thanks to a 37 yard TD pass, but the extra point failed. It was Chelan 13, Cascade 6.
The Kodiak offense was rolling, putting together a nice four play, 72 yard drive for a score, sophomore Dennis Merritt running up the middle from five yards. The extra point tied the game at 13-13.
With 2:21 to go before halftime, Chelan hit another long pass for touchdown, but again, the point after failed. The Kodiaks rallied just before halftime for another touchdown, after a 6-play, 85 yard drive. Nash scored on a lateral advance from 11 yards. But again, the extra point was blocked.
It was 19-19 at halftime.
Daley said Chelan was protecting the quarterback well in the first half, and his guys were just not making plays on the football. They were stuffing the run, but giving up too much in the passing game. His message at halftime was pretty straight forward.
"Just make a play on the ball. Be an athlete. We were not using our athleticism to our advantage," he said. "We have some of the best athletes in the league in our defensive backfield. Those guys weren't really making a play on the football."
Another adjustment was to jam the tight end to give his linebackers a little more time to get to the quarterback.
Chelan tried to onside kick to start the second half, but Cascade recovered at midfield. Three plays later, sophomore Noax Wood rushed in from three yards for the go-ahead score, 25-19. The Goats went 3-and-out on their first possession of the second half.
Cascade took over at 50, and six plays later were back in the end zone. Wood was workhorse, carrying the ball four straight times in the red zone before finally punching it from the one yard line. That made the score Cascade 33, Chelan 19.
"We had just scored before the half to tie the game and we wanted to keep that momentum," he said of their start in the second half. "They tried to onside kick, so that gave us the short field. We were pretty stoked to have the ball at that field position. We were able to score pretty quickly off that."
The next Chelan possession fizzled out near mid-field on downs. Two plays later, senior Fabian Alvarez ripped off a 43-yard run for touchdown to put the Kodiaks up 40-19. The rout was on.
"There were definitely some big momentum shift for us. I was proud of the guys for keeping after them on offense and defense," he said.
Chelan had no luck stopping the Cascade offense, which was clicking behind an offensive line that was playing very well.
"They have really started to play together. Having Derek Crites (6-foot-6, 285) back in the fold was really nice. We have some other guys that have some experience," he said. "I am really proud of the ways our o-line is opening the holes, allowing our guys to get to the second level. If you get Fabian and those guys to the second level, there are aren't many guys going to catch them."
Cascade added two more scores, one by Merritt and the other by Nash to cap the scoring.
Cascade gained 392 yards in total offense, 289 rushing and 103 passing. Chelan had 303 yards in total offense. Wood had 102 yards rushing and two touchdowns. Nash had 100 yards rushing and two touchdowns. Sophomore quarterback Austin Murdock was 8-for-9 passing for 103 yards and one touchdown. Senior Magnus Schlyer caught four pass for 55 yards.
While the o-line and four speedsters have driven the offense, it has been more a collective effort on defense, which has keyed the Kodiak turnaround this season. Daley said it all starts with that speed in their defensive backfield.
"The coverage has allowed us to get to the quarterback better. And our linebacker play is vastly improved with Duncan Scott, Noax Wood, Bernardo Maravilla and Derek Darlington. Those guys did a good job," he said. "Up front, I cannot say enough about Jose Herrerra as defensive tackle. That kid plays smart every down. Crites and Neal Champagne are switching at the other defensive tackle."
Daley said his defenders are learning to trust their instincts and react to what they see. Taking that extra second to think can allow someone to run by, he said. While this win is satisfying, Daley said they not resting on their laurels.
"These are high school kids. You have to keep them hungry. They are starting to figure some things out as far as being a quality football team," he said.
Cascade is now 3-0 in league play and 3-1 overall. Up next for the Kodiaks, at game Tonasket (1-2, 3-2) on Friday. Last year, Cascade beat the Tigers 61-0 in Peshastin, but the year before was a different story.
"Last time we were up there, star running back Keegan McKormick ran for over 300 yards and we lost. Not taking anything away from Tonasket, but that was one of the hardest losses I've taken as a coach. We should not have lost that game." he said. "A lot of the guys understand you can't take anyone in the CTL lightly."
On a final note, Cascade was finally able to play a home game again last Saturday, to the great relief of the team and fans. The game was moved from Friday due to smoke. Luckily, the smoke cleared enough for the game Saturday.
"I sure appreciate everyone's patience. To see it clear out was a real joy Saturday. I appreciate everyone coming to the stands to watch," he said.
Ian Dunn can be reached at 548-5286 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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