October 2, 2000
Wolverines take a bite out of the Red Wolves
by Doug Sage
The Cedarcrest Red Wolves (1-3) put their one game win streak on the line last Thursday night against the Wolverines from Bellevue and came up a little short in the contest 55-33.
In what was widely anticipated to be a defensive struggle, both offenses went off like fireworks at the fourth of July lighting up the scoreboard at almost every opportunity.
The game started well for the Wolverines as they ripped off two big plays and scored quickly to take a 7-0 lead with only 1:43 elapsed in the game. The Red Wolves had a nice return by Tommy Harding out to the 25 and Cedarcrest set up for their first series.
The pressure was on the left side of the offensive line of Colin Guthrie and Robby Westerman to give QB Nick Rich time to get the passing game going.
They came through, and behind great protection from the offensive line, Rich dusted off his passing arm and launched a perfect fly pattern to WR Nate McClallin (3 catches-119 yds, 2 TD) for a 74-yard TD to shock the visitors and tie the ball game 7-7 with only 2:26 gone in the contest.
What looked like a defensive struggle was turning into one of the great track meets this side of the Sydney games.
As Bellevue was marching down the field once more, the Red Wolves' Guthrie used the strength that he has gained from his powerlifting championships over the summer to break through from the defensive side of the ball and strip the QB of the ball.
Not to be outdone, he also recovered the ball on the 43 to set up the offense one more time and provide a great momentum shift for Cedarcrest.
A pass to Matt Geiger for a first down and a quick inside run by Aaron O'Neal set up an inside flanker screen to McClallin and a 35-yard TD for the speedy senior.
In a game where Bellevue was predicted to run away with it, to be behind 13-7 was a complete shock to the Wolverines.
Both teams played a game of "Can-you-top-this"’ for the rest of the half as both teams scored on big play after big play.
Bellevue used a crushing offensive line to consume the remainder of the 1st quarter and at the break the score was 13-7 Red Wolves. Cedarcrest's defensive line lead by Steve Polejewski and Jesse Thompson forced Bellevue into 3rd and long situations and a couple of 4th down tries by Bellevue.
When the horn sounded for the end of the 1st, Bellevue was lining up for a field goal from the 6.
Coming out of the break, Bellevue pulled the apparent field goal attempt off the field and decided to go for it on 4th down.
Using their misdirection play, the quarterback through was able to sweep around the right side and go in for the score and put the Wolverines ahead 14-13.
Tommy Harding set up the Red Wolves for another drive with a nice return, and an added personal foul on Bellevue set the Red
Wolves up in good field position.
Cedarcrest was forced to punt, however, and Bellevue capitalized again with another score.
It was tough for the Wolverines as Bellevue was inside the 10 when LB Tyson Soptich planted the running back with a nice form tackle to bring up 3rd and goal from the 9. Bellevue was up to the task and scored on their favorite play to extend their lead to 21-13 with 4:33 to play in the half.
A tough return by Harding as the ball was kicked along the boundary and he was forced out at the 15.
Carrido gave the Red Wolves some breathing room with a nice run for 11 yards and a first down at the 26. A big momentum shift occurred when McClallin had a sky high punt that was muffed by the Wolverines and recovered by the gunner Tommy Harding who had sped past the defense and was right in the vision of the receiver as he attempted to catch the ball.
Obviously, having Harding right in his face caused him to take his eyes off the ball for a split second, but that's all it took and Harding recovered the ball at the Wolverine 36.
The Red Wolves quickly capitalized and scored on a nice run by Darrin Carrido as he broke a tackle in the hole and got great blocks on the right side by Steve Polejewski and Aaron O'Neal to take it the 36 yards to the house.
Cedarcrest pulled within 2 points at 21-19 and went for 2, but didn't get it so the score remained a 2 point differential with 2:21 to play in the half.
A couple of big turnovers in the first half really helped the Red Wolves' cause. Bellevue was willing to play the explosive offensive game and tried to use their hurry up offense.
Jed Dern made a nice stop and forced Bellevue to burn another time out. After a couple of short gains, Bellevue once again put a long gainer together and scored on a rare pass from the 38 to make the final score at the half 28-19.
The second half was highlighted by spirited play from the hometown team that included a fake punt early in the 3rd quarter.
Cedarcrest snuck backup QB Sean McDonald into the game as the upback in punt formation and he responded by throwing a strike to Harding and a big 30-yard gain for the first down inside the Wolverine 5.
Cedarcrest brought Guard Cole Birk into the game and he produced immediately. Coming through with a trap block on the defensive tackle, Birk and C Bobby Znak were able to spring O'Neal for the 5 yards and paydirt.
Tom Felts made the extra point to close the score to 26-28. A final touchdown on a QB sneak by Nick Rich, and 3 more scores by the Wolverines made the final score 55-33. Bellevue's offense was as advertised as they never punted in the game. 10 possessions, 1 fumble, and 1 fumbled punt was the line for Bellevue.
Cedarcrest showed heart and fortitude as they battled last year's state playoff team to a great game that was close until Bellevue pulled away with 2 scores late in the 4th quarter.
Even in defeat, the Red Wolves scored the most points that they've had in the past 3 years, a good sign that the offense is starting to gel.