November 8, 1999
The Cedarcrest Red Wolves were victorious for the second time this season as they went up against their Valley rivals, the Mt. Si Wildcats, last Friday night in the annual battle for the Valley Cup.
In a stunning come-from-behind victory, the Red Wolves proved that during their 2-6 season, they played better than their record indicated. Head Coach Art Kuehn commented after the windblown game that he was surprised that any team could score that many points during the driving rain and wind that pounded Wildcat field after the Red Wolves tallied 16 third-quarter points to outlast Mt. Si, 16-7.
The diehard fans there to watch the final game of the season were bundled up like Eskimos and were treated to a third-quarter outburst of offense and defense that resembled a championship team.
The game started amid a sideways rain squall that caused several umbrellas in the stands to be turned inside out and rendered useless by the relentless wind. The leather-lunged faithful never gave up hope as the Red Wolves started their opening possession on the 20-yard line.
Unable to throw the ball due to the weather, Red Wolves started on the ground, and utilizing a bruising running attack led by senior Eric Dick, rattled off two straight first downs behind the stout blocking of the offensive line before having to punt to the Wildcats. Dick was making most of his yards between the guards led by Ryan Sage, Bobby Znak, and Joe Grady as the Wildcats chose to double the outside receivers in respect of the Red Wolf passing game.
Mt. Si took their first possession and marched right down the field. Once inside the 20, Mt. Si coughed up the pigskin on what would be a familiar play for them, a botched snap from center in the driving rain, which was recovered by the Red Wolves. Again, Cedarcrest was able to run time off the clock while moving into the wind and again punted as Nate McLallin was able to get off a couple of nice punts into a stiff breeze which kept Mt. Si out of starting in Cedarcrest territory.
After Mt. Si was able to make several plays running straight ahead, the Red Wolf defense stiffened and forced the Wildcats to run wide to try and make yards. The Cedarcrest defense, led by linebackers Lucas Whelan and Tommy Felts, backed up the defensive line led by David Shipley, Tyson Brown, Znak, Jesse Thompson, and Steve Polejewski.
Once Mt. Si was forced outside, their running game became more hit and miss, as the linebackers could run blitz and make the running backs run far to the sideline to try and turn the corner. Once there, they were met by the tremendous pursuit of the defensive backs led by Cody Wheeler and Casey Petterson to put hard tackles on the running backs.
As the first quarter came to a close without any real scoring threat by either team, Mt. Si was put in a position to go for it on 4th and 4 from their side of midfield, as they chose not to punt into the wind which gusted close to 50 mph. They gained 5 yards, and the first big momentum shift was to the Wildcats early in the second quarter.
The Red Wolves stopped Mt. Si on 2nd and 18 to force them into a dangerous long yardage situation, only to have themselves bailed out by the yellow hanky play on a questionable personal foul call. From there, the Wildcats drove into the wind for the only score of the first half. After the 15-yard walkoff moved the ball to the 16-yard line and gave them a first down, the quarterback ran a bootleg to the right from the 10 to give the home town team a lead of 7-0 with 6:59 remaining in the second quarter.
After that, the remainder of the first half was summed up by only one pass completion by Rich to Michael Smith of the Red Wolves as neither team could move the ball in the brutally inclement weather as the half ended with Mt. Si in the lead.
Cedarcrest came out of the locker room in the second half with a fire in their eyes and a desire in their spirit that Mt. Si could not match. As Cedarcrest kicked off to begin the second half, the ball squirted past the bewildered receivers from the Wildcats and they took over on their own 20.
Mt. Si must have been cold coming out for the second half, because a play that would become all too familiar happened again, as they fumbled the snap on the second play of the second half, which was recovered by Wheeler at the 26-yard line. From there, the offensive line of the Red Wolves took control of the ballgame, and with tackles Brandon Clark and Danny Gunderson joining the strong blocks of the guards Sage and Grady and center Znak, started pushing the Wildcats down the field.
Dick was possessed as he ran straight ahead, and Mt. Si could do nothing but move closer to their own goal. Dick ran hard on an inside trap play and gained 9 yards down to the 4 behind the crisp blocking of Sage and Clark. From there, Morgan Henly took it over the left side one more time from the 4, as the burly seniors led a convoy into the end zone and Henly followed them in. Kicker Ben Frey made the extra point, and with 9:24 left in the third, it was all tied at 7-7.
Cedarcrest had all the momentum at this point, and they played like it. Mt. Si looked confused on the ensuing kickoff, as neither return man wanted the ball. With Mt. Si in terrible position at the 10, Polejewski and Whelen started to assert their dominance on the game from the defensive side. The strength of the defense forced Mt. Si to burn a timeout with 8:01 remaining in the third, a timeout that would later come back to haunt them.
Mt. Si could only manage a 23-yard punt from the 15, and the Red Wolves had great field position again at the 38. QB Nick Rich and center Bobby Znak did well in the slop to not have miscues on the snaps. But they came up short on 4th down at the 30 to give flickering hopes to the Wildcats. The Red Wolf defense came up big again as LB Tommy Felts and Tyson Soptich pushed Mt. Si back again and again as great pursuit of the ball carriers and solid tackling forced another Wildcat punt covered by Petterson on the Red Wolf 43.
The play of the season happened very quickly as Cedarcrest went to its bread-and-butter play, the counter gap, as Sage and Brown pulled to the right and Dick took the ball straight up the middle and broke into the secondary without being touched. From there, no one was going to deny the reigning Red Wolf 100-meter sprint champion as he cruised untouched 57 yards for the score.
What a sight to behold, as the Red Wolves finally did to another team what had been happening to them for most of the season, as they had a running back break clean and ramble for a decisive score. Excessive celebration by the Red Wolves moved the extra point back 15 yards, and the kick came up just short to leave the score 13-7 with 3:34 to go in the third quarter.
Again, Mt. Si could not hold the ball, and the middle of the Red Wolf defense made the recovery at the Wildcat 23. Having the lead and great field position, the Red Wolves smartly became conservative and used their best weapons of the night, Dick and Henly, behind the crushing offensive line.
This strategy was sound, as they kept the ball away from Mt. Si when they wanted it most. The drive stalled at the Wildcat 11, and on 4th dow,n Cedarcrest lined up for their first field goal of the season. Ben Frey was solid with the 28-yard kick, as Petterson was solid with the hold, and as time ran out in the third quarter, the horn sounded as the kick sailed cleanly through the uprights and a 16-7 Red Wolf lead.
From there, the Wildcats could either not make a 4th down play, or fumbled it again as they threatened time and again to score and get back into the contest. The ultimate play was when on 4th and 5 from the Red Wolf 7, Mt. Si fumbled another snap to turn the ball over to the Red Wolves with 3:28 to go in the game.
The final nail in the coffin was hammered home as Polejewski came free towards the QB and planted him in the soggy turf just as he let the ball fly from the 32-yard line, only to have Wheeler move under the errant throw and pick it off to start the final drive of the season for the Red Wolves at the 11-yard line. Cedarcrest would not be denied their second win of the season, and as they ran out the clock after the interception, the celebration began on a very satisfying win for the Red Wolves.
The season began over three long months ago with two-a-day practices. It is hard to go through a season without mentioning the seniors of this team. Some of the senior players who did not get much ink this year were: wide receiver Matt Cain, defensive back Del Brammer, offensive linemen Mitchell Higgins and Kolby Korshaven, as well as TE Chris Keele and LB Jason Thorson. A football team is as strong as all its parts, and these players gave as much to the program as anyone. Their performances on special teams, as well as those times called upon to start a game or play a backup role, were vital to the progress of a successful program.
The 17 seniors on this yearŐs team went out as winners in the biggest game of their young lives. They went out with their heads held high and their pride showing as it should for a great group of players who sacrificed day after day to make this win a reality. Our hats are off to each and every one of them.
Once again, the Valley Cup goes to the visiting team. Maybe next year, with a good nucleus of returning talent, the Red Wolves can reverse that trend and make it two in a row and celebrate on home turf for a change.
The Valley View wishes to thank contributing writer Doug Sage for his weekly Cedarcrest football reports. For the second year in a row, he has done an outstanding job. Thanks again, Doug.