Fast start by Shohomish drops Cats

Adam Diaz doesn
Adam Diaz doesn't look to gain much yardage in Friday night's loss to Snohomish
— image credit: Ken George

Turnovers kill! The Oak Harbor Wildcats found that out last Friday night in the rain at Snohomish as the Cats handed the Panthers the ball three times in the first quarter.

Snohomish capitalized each time, building a 17-0 lead in the opening period and running away with a 35-7 WesCo North win. The loss all but eliminated the Wildcats from post-season play.

"The turnovers just killed us but this was just a freakish game," said Coach Dave Ward. On the game’s opening play junior running back Grant Hill broke free on a sweep play and was headed for the end zone. Bull pulled up with what proved to be a torn tendon in his hip and was caught from behind. "He’s is out for the remainder of the season. That was a weird injury. He made just a minor cut but must have done it just right and the tendon tore. It looked like he would score if he hadn’t been hurt," Ward lamented. But his injury was just the start of bad things to come for the Wildcats.

The Panthers opened the scoring after recovering an Oak Harbor fumble at the Panther’s own 30-yard line. Quarterback Jeff Rodland scored from a yard out to cap the 70-yard drive. Derek Bennion added the PAT for a 7-0 lead.

On the Cats next possession another fumble and injury set up a 39-yard field goal by Bennion. Junior running back Kyle Veach was injured and fumbled to give the Panthers their second gift. Veach missed the rest of the game.

"With Grant and Kyle out it really hurt us. They are two of our fastest kids. Their loss hurt us on both sides of the ball and really effected our kids mentally," Ward said. "They kind of felt like they were jinxed. We stayed in it physically but the metal letdown had a significant effect," Ward added.

And for the third consecutive possession, the Cats again coughed it up with Snohomish having to drive just 29 yards for their third score of the quarter, this one on a seven-yard rush by running back Todd Olson. Bennion’s kick made it 17-0.

Following a safety on a punt attempt that gave the Panthers two more points, Snohomish put another touchdown on the board before the half with running back Jacob Darling taking it in from 18 yards out. Bennion once again tacked on the point after for a 26-0 lead at the half.

Bennion added another field goal, this time from 35-yards out, and Matt Ringstad scored on a two-yard run, on fourth and goal, to finish the offensive onslaught. Ringstad slipped and fell at the one-yard line before sliding into the end zone, just one of three "mystery calls" that hurt the Cats on the night. On the other two controversial calls, long gains by Oak Harbor were called back.

The Cats avoided a shut out as Adam Diaz scored on a 10-yard scamper in the final minute. Chad Asmus kicked the point after for the 35-7 final score.

Ward singled out junior defensive lineman Chris Walker and a pair of offensive linemen, senior John Goodwin and sophomore Andrew Horning, for praise after the game.

“(Walker) really played an excellent game on the defensive line, he was really hard for them to block. On the offensive side of the ball Goodwin and Horning played hard and blocked really well.”

Snohomish held a 269-175 edge in total yardage. "Their sophomore quarterback did an excellent job of handling the ball. On a very wet night, that was a key for them," said Ward.

With the loss Oak Harbor drops to 5-3, 4-3 in WesCo North play. The top three teams from the North advance to the playoffs. Lake Stevens, the Wildcat’s final regular season opponent, leads the division at 6-1. Arlington, Snohomish and Mount Vernon, who lost to Arlington Friday, all are 5-2.

"We have a chance to redeem ourselves against Lake Stevens. They are arguably the best team in the league," Ward commented.

The Cats need a couple of breaks in Thursday night’s final round of division play. An Oak Harbor win over Lake Stevens coupled with a Mount Vernon loss to Stanwood, an Arlington loss to Marysville-Pilchuck and a Snohomish loss to Cascade would make for a four-team logjam for the North’s other two playoff spots. Lake Stevens would still hold the number-one seed.

“We’re not mathematically eliminated but we need a lot of help,” said Ward.

Oak Harbor--0 0 0 7- 7

Snohomish--17 9 0 10-35

Sno-- Rodland 2-yard run (Bennion kick)

Sno-- Bennion 39-yard FG

Sno-- Olson 7 yard run (Bennion kick)

Sno-- Safety, punter stepped out of end zone

Sno-- Darling 18-yard run (Bennion kick)

Sno-- Ringstad 2-yard run (kick failed)

OH-- Diaz 10-yard run (Asmus kick)

Team League W-L, OverallW-L

Lake Stevens 6-1, 6-1

Arlington 5-2, 6-2

Mount Vernon 5-2, 6-2

Snohomish 5-2, 5-3

Oak Harbor 4-3, 5-3

Cascade 3-4, 3-5

Marysville-Pilchuck 2-5, 2-6

Stanwood 2-5, 2-5

Monroe 0-8, 0-8

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