2B Trophy Stays in Okanogan as Bulldogs Repeat By Steve Dion
The penultimate game of championship weekend at the Tacoma Dome showcased a repeat of the 2014 title game between the Okanogan Bulldogs and Napavine Tigers in which the Dogs were victorious by the score of 17-14. Competing for the crown a year ago was impressive for the Tigers considering the youth of their core contributing group of players, so getting back to the Woodshed in ’15 seemed like a very likely scenario. Erick Judd has done a fantastic job in guiding the defending champs through the postseason to give themselves the rare opportunity to go back-to-back. The only expectation heading into this game is that it would be exciting; the expected winner was a mystery.
Napavine won the coin toss and chose to defer to receive in the second half. Okanogan’s opening possession was interrupted by a strip by Chase Van Wyck that turned the ball over to Napavine. The Tigers marched 83 yards on a dozen plays to log the first touchdown of the game; a thirty-four yard completion to Jordan Purvis. Okanogan wasted no time to even the score when on the third play from scrimmage, they were in the endzone after Mason Guerette hauled in a 56 yard pass from Clay Ashworth. Van Wyck’s defensive effort earlier was rewarded on the offensive end when he recorded the second Napavine touchdown midway through the second quarter. Mac Fagerness got into the action too for the Tigers by catching a 34-yard touchdown of his own. Okanogan’s remaining points of the first half were the result of a 3 yard reception by Riley Prescott. The first half statistics were fairly even, but the glaring difference was the lone turnover of the game which resulted in a touchdown. At recess, Napavine led 20-14.
Coach Josh Fay certainly understood the importance of picking up a two-possession lead to open the second half and his team did exactly that. NHS moved the ball 64 yards to the one yard line and let their 6’3”, 225 pound junior quarterback Wyatt Stanley take care of the rest. Okanogan was unable to respond on the offensive end, but they got a minor lift from Napavine when they committed a safety after a botched snap that sailed through the endzone. The Tigers still held a two possession lead at 27-16, but the momentum was shifting back toward the Bulldogs.
Early into the fourth, Okanogan pulled closer when Greyson Fields punched it in from three yards out. Less than two minutes later, Guerette shook off multiple Tiger tacklers on the sideline and sprinted to the goal line to give OHS the lead. The shootout continued shortly thereafter when Fagerness miraculously hauled in a pass to the corner in double coverage then hurdled over a defender to retain the lead. The Napavine defense could not hold down the Dogs who found paydirt yet again on a Greyson Fields plunge. With 1:02 remaining on 4th and 1, Napavine needed a stop to keep their hopes of a game-winning drive alive. As the play clock was expiring, Clay Ashworth set up in the gun. He called out orders to his center then suddenly the Tiger defensive line jumped. Ashworth’s hard count was successful! This proved to be the final piece to line up in victory formation yet again. The hardware stays in Northeast Washington for another year. Expect Napavine to be in contention to contend for the title in 2016.
Okanogan’s First Half Enough For State Title Victory Over Napavine By Steven Dion
The 2014 edition of the Gridiron Classic featured the 2B championship game between Napavine and Okanogan. Northeast Washington’s representative in the Bulldogs shut out defending champions Lind-Ritzville Sprague in the semis 34-0 to earn their title game berth. The Tigers won a close contest over Toledo to get to the big dance. Luck is often an undervalued factor in sports, but the victor of this game can surely credit a few unusual bounces of the pigskin and a bend-don’t-break second half en route to a state championship.
Opening drives for both teams did not yield points as the defensive units for both squads showed early aggression. The Bulldogs were facing a third and long, so Benny Cate threw toward Jimmy Townsend on the right hashmarks. However, there were two Tigers in coverage with one in position to intercept. The ball glanced off the defender’s hands to Townsend who grabbed the still airborne football for a fluky 61 yard score. Before the first frame ended, Arnulfo Tacked on a 27 yard field goal to give Okanogan an early double-digit lead. Despite the deficit, Napavine’s roster has talent which would make a comeback a likely scenario.
Before the first half concluded, Okanogan tested their fortunes on another play that could have gone wrong. Cate threw a dart downfield and his receiver was scampering to the endzone, but before he got there, the ball popped loose. Payton Staggs was able to pounce on the football which was laying in the endzone for any taker. At the half, Eastern Washington was leading its Western counterpart 17-0.
If Napavine were to mount a comeback in the second half, Brady Woodrum would have to continue to receive plenty of touches. Five of his 77 total rushing yards amounted to the Tigers getting on the scoreboard with over eighteen minutes of play remaining. This fired up Napavine and the momentum was shifting. Shortly after the touchdown drive, the Tigers had an opportunity to kick a field goal to cut the lead. No good. The NHS defense held and allowed for another field goal attempt. Missed. Time was running out, but Napavine still had a pulse. Wyatt Stanley connected with Mac Fagerness from 27 yard with 3 minutes remaining for a touchdown. Using timeouts wisely, the Tigers had the ball with a minute left to tie or take the lead. Okanogan was able to force a fumble on the quarterback as he about to throw the ball downfield to a receiver. Despite being shut out in the second half, Okanogan is the 2B champion by the score of 17-14.
The FinalScore – Okanogan 17, Napavine 14.
Top Performers: Okanogan
Jimmy Townsend- 61 yard TD rec, forced fumble, INT