Sports

Cats come close against unbeaten Cascade

"Four games into the season, Oak Harbor High School's football team has proven it can go toe-to-toe with other football teams in the Wesco 4 A League. Not only can the Wildcats run and score against tough defenses, they can stop power-running teams in their tracks.But in order to improve their 0-4 record, the Wildcats will need to do it for four consecutive quarters.The Cats came very close to accomplishing game continuity in Everett Friday night against unbeaten Cascade. Cascade prevailed 28-21 however, and remains unbeaten. But not before being tested repeatedly and shut down completely in the second half by the winless Wildcats.As the game unfolded, we were going toe-to-toe with them and actually taking charge at the line of scrimmage, Wildcat coach Dave Ward said. Our guys were flying around and having a great time. Now we have to work on getting that intensity early. In the first half of Friday's game, the intensity seemed to be with Cascade's offense. Bruin running backs Joel Crawford and Jerrell Jenkins teamed up for four touchdowns - Jenkins on two runs totaling 106 yards and Crawford from four yards out on both occasions.In all, the Bruins gained 273 yards total offense in the first half. The Wildcats gained 62.Technical mistakes were on Oak Harbor's side of the ball contributed to the Bruins onslaught, Ward said, and included Wildcat defenders not pursuing down the line of scrimmage or not taking the right angles of attack.But a couple of key plays, one on defense and the other on special teams helped propel the Wildcats back into the game.Wildcat quarterback and linebacker Tom McMickle stripped the ball from a Cascade running back and took off for a 35-yard run and touchdown, proving that Cascade wasn't invulnerable. And on the first play of the second half, WIldcat running back Tony Hall returned the Bruin's kickoff for 91 yards and a touchdown, cutting the Bruins lead to 28-14After the game, Hall, who gained more than 160 yards on three returns, said the runback further proved to the team that it could recover from the first half deficit.After they scored two quick TD's we put our heads down, Hall said. 'At the half, we had a team conversation and got our heads up and got back into the game. And after the run back on the first play of the second half, we started coming back.The Wildcats shut down Cascade in the third quarter and Cascade started to falter in the fourth.Oak Harbor's Brent Lang intercepted a pass by Cascade's Andy Fortino, killing a Bruin drive and setting up Oak Harbor's first scoring drive - capped by 14-yard touchdown pass from quarterback McMickle to fullback Brent Lang to bring the Cats within seven points at 28-21.Cascade had one last chance to score in the fourth quarter, a 25-yard field goal attempt by Evan McNeeley that went wide.Then with time running out, Oak Harbor got the ball on its own 20-yard line, then picked up a big gain on defensive pass interference penalty.But on the next play Cascade's Michael Howard intercepted McMickle pass and Cascade ran out the remaining time on the clock.Hall said that losing the first four games is a new experience for he and his teammates and is very frustrating, especially after shutting down a good team like Cascade for an entire second half.It proves we can play with anyone, Hall said. We've got to pull out of this.Ward thinks he knows the way to do that.We have to get off the ball and get physical from the first series and play with emotion right away, Ward said. We have to start games with that intensity and confidence and take it to them right away.Oak Harbor will get the chance at 7:30 p.m. this Friday at Memorial Stadium, in the Wildcats' homecoming game against 2-2 Shorewood. "

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