Wildcats storm by Snohomish in 2nd half | Football

It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.

After a shaky beginning in the season opener, the Oak Harbor High School football team sped by visiting Snohomish 27-3 Friday, Aug. 31.

Down 3-0 at the half, Oak Harbor used powerful inside running and big plays to roll in the final two quarters.

It was an impressive win for Oak Harbor, a 3A school, as it defeated 4A Snohomish, which was picked to finish second in the Wesco 4A North in two preseason coaches’ polls.

In the same polls, Oak Harbor was tabbed to finish third in the Wesco 3A North in the Everett Herald and to tie for first with Marysville-Pilchuck in the Seattle Times.

The Wildcats have a tough nonleague slate, facing the top three 4A North favorites the first three weeks. Next up, Oak Harbor goes to Arlington at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 7, and then hosts top pick Lake Stevens at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 14.

Marysville-Pilchuck defeated Arlington 42-14 Aug. 31.

Things did not start well for Oak Harbor against Snohomish. The Panthers moved the ball the first half as quarterback Kyle Gionet hit six of eight passes, all to Russell Crippen, who proved he could be a force on offense. Crippen intercepted eight passes last year and was a first-team, all-state defensive back pick.

Gionet and Crippen hooked up twice during the game’s first drive and helped Snohomish move to the 5 to set up Collin Shelton’s 22-yard field goal.

Oak Harbor drove to the Snohomish 20 on its first possession but coughed up a fumble.

A Gionet to Crippen pass for 41 yards started the second Panther drive which moved to the Wildcat 1 where Oak Harbor held on fourth down.

The Wildcats picked up one first down then punted, a 10-yarder, and Snohomish took over at the Oak Harbor 29.  This time Shelton missed a 40-yard field goal.

Oak Harbor punted again, but recovered a fumble on the punt return. However, from there it was four-and-out just before the half ended.

The second half was a different story. Isaiah Trower returned the kickoff 65 yards. A penalty wiped out about half the return and the ‘Cats took over at the 50. A 12-yard run by Fred Webster and a 15-yard completion from Ian Kolste to Austyn Walker on third-and-eight highlighted the drive that ended with a four-yard lob from Kolste to JoJo Webster in the corner for the TD. Ryan Gilman kicked the extra point and Oak Harbor led 7-3.

Snohomish responded with Gionet hitting Ben Johnston with a 32-yard pass on its first play, but that was about it for the Panther offense in the second half as Oak Harbor head coach and defensive coordinator Jay Turner made some adjustments.

Turner said, “The first game is always scary. You don’t know how the kids will react and you don’t know much about the other team.

“We made a lot of adjustments on the fly, and it is a testament to the kids because not all teams can do that.”

The Oak Harbor offense was just getting started. Taking over at its own 5 with 6:46 left in the third quarter, the Wildcats moved to the 35 where it was called for back-to-back penalties. On first-and-20, Kolste hit JoJo Webster on a bubble screen and the senior receiver zipped through the defense for a 69-yard score. Gilman’s kick made it 14-3.

It was then three-and-out for Snohomish, and on first play of the fourth quarter, Trower bolted for a 77-yard score. The extra-point kick was wide.

JoJo Webster’s interception halted the next Panther drive and Oak Harbor started at its own 34.

Sensing Snohomish was tired, Oak Harbor shifted to its hurry-up offense and bulled its way up the field with seven straight running plays, none shorter than five yards, and scored on Dakota Sinchak’s slick 25-yard run. Mark Johnston’s PAT kick finished the scoring at 27-3.

The Wildcat defense limited the Panthers’ running game, holding them to 143 yards on 35 carries. Twenty-two of the runs netted two yards or less and none gained more than 11.

Gionet finished 9-for-16 for 143 yards.

Snohomish, on the other hand, couldn’t control Oak Harbor’s ground game. Fred Webster, running between the tackles, plowed for 71 yards on 15 carries. Outside speedsters Trower, Sheyenne Sams, Sinchak and Dejon Devroe all averaged more than 10 yards per carry. Trower led the way with 99 yards on eight touts while Sams added 44 on four carries.

Kolste hit 6-of-8 for 113 yards.

Oak Harbor finished with 375 yards (262 rushing, 113 passing), while Snohomish gained 221.

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