Cascade visits for homecoming battle

Football teams traditionally schedule a patsy for homecoming, but this year Oak Harbor breaks with tradition.

Coming to town Friday will be the Cascade Bruins, a perennial Wesco North powerhouse that is once again loaded with bears.

Oak Harbor suffered its first defeat of the year to Snohomish last Friday, setting up a crucial game for this Friday in front of the homecoming crowd.

The Wildcats and Bruins will enter the game with only one league loss each, as both teams were victimized by Snohomish. There are now four Wesco teams with one or fewer losses vying for three playoff berths.

“It’s going to be a big game for us,” Oak Harbor coach Dave Ward said Tuesday. The winner will be on the inside track to the playoffs with only three more games to play.

Cascade, 3-2 overall, tuned up for Oak Harbor by plowing under Monroe 49-14 last week. “Cascade runs most of the time,” Ward said in describing their game plan. “They’ve got team speed.”

Oak Harbor, 4-1 (all in league) will be coming off a disappointing but exciting 14-12 loss at Snohomish. The battle of the undefeated Wesco North titans attracted a huge crowd estimated at 5,000, including many Oak Harbor alumni from throughout the area. “There was a great crowd from Oak Harbor,” Ward said. “Alumni everywhere. It was a great game. It could have gone either way.”

The two teams were evenly matched both on the scoreboard and in the statistics. Although the Wildcats lost, they outgained the Panthers 299 to 229 in total yards in a ferocious battle of defenses. The smaller but feistier Wildcats largely contained Snohomish’s vaunted ground game, while Oak Harbor quarterback Lenny Serfling completed 16 of 32 passes for 241 yards and one touchdown. Snohomish picked off three passes which contributed to their victory.

Oak Harbor found the scoreboard first when Serfling hit wide receiver Grant Bull with a 54-yard touchdown pass that shocked the huge crowd of Panther supporters. The PAT kick was blocked.

Snohomish retaliated with six points in the second quarter on a three-yard run, and the kick gave them a 7-6 lead at halftime. In the third period, Snohomish turned an interception into a 55-yard score, and the kick upped their advantage to 14-6.

Oak Harbor stormed back in the final period with a drive capped by a 17-yard TD run by Nate Metcalf. A big play in the drive was a 35-yard pass on third-and-20 from Serfling to Adam Diaz. The two-point conversion pass that would have tied the score failed and Oak Harbor trailed 14-12.

Later in the period, Oak Harbor launched a 68-yard drive that had the Panther fans fidgeting. But it stalled on the Panther 32 when the referee made a controversial intentional grounding call on Serfling. The penalty erased all thoughts of a winning field goal, and on fourth down Serfling tossed a 40-yard bomb toward Grant Bull in the endzone.

“They just barely knocked it way,” coach Ward said. After that, Snohomish simply ran out the clock.

The Wildcat defense, again led by 6-1, 200-pound noseguard Chad Ausmus, held Snohomish to a meager 40 yards of offense in the second half.

This Friday’s homecoming game begins at 7:30 p.m. at Memorial Stadium. Halftime will be longer than usual to allow the crowning of the 2002 homecoming king and queen.

By the numbers

Oak Harbor 6 0 0 6 — 12

Snohomish 0 7 7 0 — 14

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