Aerial attack halts Bears 30-21

Take the strong right arm of senior quarterback Johnny Encinas and combine it with a surging defense that created five turnovers, and the result was the Oak Harbor Wildcats taking the second step on the stairway to repeating as Class 4A state football champions.

Encinas passed for 271 yards and a touchdown, and the defense recovered three fumbles and intercepted a pair of passes as the Wildcats defeated Olympia 30-21 Saturday evening at Ingersoll Stadium in Olympia. The victory snapped the Bears’ seven-game winning streak, and Olympia ends the season with an 8-3 overall record.

“Johnny had probably his best game of the season tonight,” coach Dave Ward said. “The offensive line gave him protection and time to throw, and he was right on target with his passes.”

Olympia scored the first touchdown at the 6:14 mark of the opening quarter.

After taking the kickoff at their own 29-yard line, Kramer Champlin engineered a 13-play drive to pay dirt going the final yard himself on a quarterback sneak.

Sam Bingaman added the extra point kick and the Bears were ahead 7-0.

Coming right back from their own 33-yard line after the kickoff, the Wildcats made things look easy and tied the score with 3:46 left in the opening period.

Encinas completed four straight passes to four different receivers during the eight-play scoring drive, and Chris Valencia banged the ball in the end zone from the 3-yard line.

Valencia was the Wildcats’ leading rusher in the game picking up a tough 69 yards on 13 carries and scored a pair of touchdowns.

Mike Johnston hit the first of his three extra point kicks to tie the score, 7-7.

On the second play of the second quarter, Oak Harbor took the lead on a 28-yard scoring pass from Encinas to Stephen Lewis to give the Wildcats a 14-7 lead.

Lewis, who prior to the game had been questionable as to whether he would be able to play, had a big night catching four passes for 66 yards and a touchdown, and rushing for an additional 35 yards on four carries while scoring a second touchdown.

“We just wanted to come in here tonight and play some good football, and we did,” Lewis said.

After recovering the second Olympia fumble of the quarter at the Bears’ 41-yard line, the Wildcats put their second touchdown of the period on the board with six seconds remaining until halftime.

Valencia pounded the ball in from a yard out after Rodrick Rumble made a tremendous catch, taking the ball away from two Olympia defenders before being knocked out of bounds just short of the goal line.

“God blessed us tonight,” Rumble said. “We took care of business and now we’re going to Bothell.”

Holding a 21-7 lead as the second half began, Oak Harbor apparently was a little too overconfident and Olympia was able to narrow the gap to 21-14 on a 7-yard touchdown run by Casey Sherwood with 6:27 remaining in the third quarter.

The Bears tied the score early in the fourth quarter on a 4-yard touchdown pass from Champlin to Garrett Hall and just like that, Oak Harbor found itself in a dog fight with the game on the line.

Despite the score being tied, there was a feeling among the vocal Oak Harbor supporters stands and the players on the field that there was no way the Wildcats were going to lose.

“We jumped out really early and I think we got a little bit over confident,” Valencia said. “It took that shot in the mouth to really get us going again.”

With 5:48 remaining in the game and an 11-play drive stalled at the Bears’ 11-yard line, Oak Harbor’s Kevin Flavin nailed a 28-yard field goal to put the Wildcats back in front, 24-21.

The Bears came back after the ensuing kickoff and moved the ball to Oak Harbor’s 46-yard line, but Olympia running back Dylan Parsons fumbled and Valencia made the recovery.

“Our defense stepped up and made the plays when they had to,” Ward said.

Six plays later and after being helped along by a face mask penalty, Lewis put the game out of reach with a 2-yard touchdown run.

Chapman tried to bring the Bears back once again, but Jordan Young picked off his second pass of the game with 1:40 left on the clock and the Wildcats ran the remainder of the time out.

“Jordan had a great game with two interceptions and Stephen Lewis ran well,” Ward said. “Chris needed a couple of breaks on offense and Stephen ran the ball down in there.”

The Wildcats’ next test is at 7:30 p.m. Friday night at Pop Keeney Stadium against Bothell, the team Oak Harbor defeated 21-14 in last year’s state championship.

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