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Coach Dave Wards Wildcat football team got the train back on the track Friday night with a 46-21 thrashing of the Cascade Bruins.
After a 4-0 start Oak Harbor was coming off their first defeat, a 14-12 loss to Snohomish that had the Cats angry and ready to take their ire out on somebody, anybody. In stepped the Bruins, the Darth Vader of the 90s.
But on this Homecoming night, the Force was with the Wildcats and it was evident from the opening kickoff. Nine plays and 75 yards after receiving the kick, Oak Harbor was on the scoreboard as Grant Bull fought his way into the endzone from just over two yards out. Chad Asmus nailed the point after for a quick 7-0 lead.
Cascade moved the ball well on their opening possession and one might have envisioned this becoming a tack meet. But the Wildcat defense put that notion to rest quickly. The Bruins faced a second down and six to go that turned into a third-and-25 as the front line, led by Asmus, chased down Bruin quarterback Jesse Choquette for the big loss. On third down Asmus was into the Bruin backfield so fast that he came close to snagging the handoff. His tackle for a three yard loss put the stops on the Bruins first offensive threat.
Following the Bruins punt, the Cats were off on another long drive, this one of 62 yards, with Blake Ward finishing it off on a 17-yard blast up the middle for the touchdown. Serfling made a big play on third and three when he hit Bull for a 15-yard gain. Ward scored on the next play. Asmus again booted the try for a 14-0 lead with just under two minutes remaining in the opening quarter. The Bruins appeared stunned and ready to fold.
The overflow crowd at Memorial Stadium was on their feet again near the eight minute mark of the second quarter as Adam Diaz found a seam and bolted in for a six-yard score. The drive was kept alive by a 17-yard gain on fourth down and seven as Lenny Serfling threw a quick sideline pass to Kyle Veach who hit the afterburners and torched the Bruin secondary to set up a first and goal at the 10-yard line. Asmus again hit the point after for a 21-0 Wildcat advantage that held until the half.
The defense limited the Bruins to just 31 yards in the first half while the Cats piled up 198 yards. Two touchdowns were called back in the second quarter, a nifty 71-yard run by Serfling on a quarterback keeper around the left side and a 35-yard Serfling to Diaz pass play also negated by the yellow flag.
Serfling opened the third quarter with an eight-yard touchdown run and followed it up with a 31-yard scoring pass to Veach. The 33-0 lead erased any feeling of déjà vu from the 2001 Homecoming game. A year ago the Wildcats had also built a big halftime lead only to see the Bruins come out of the locker room and put two quick scores on the board to seize the momentum before OHHS put them away. Old Mother Mo stayed with the Wildcats this time.
Cascade did make it interesting though. Back-to-back scoring drives cut the lead to 33-14 with just over eight minutes remaining but Oak Harbor responded with a pair of touchdowns as Serfling hit Bull over the shoulder for a 25-yard score and sophomore Dan Raymond bulled in from a yard out following a Cash Parker interception. The Bruins last score came on the games final play and the party began at midfield.
On the heels of their first loss in 2002, Coach Ward was curious how this team would respond. Im so glad the kids bounced right back, Ward said. They didnt let last week get to them and they really came out and took care of it.
A year ago the big question was when was the last time Oak Harbor beat Cascade as the Wildcats celebrated their 2001 win over the Bruins. No need to ask on this night, it was only a year ago.
Serfling had a strong night throwing the football, connecting on 12 of his 16 attempts for 214 yards and the two touchdown throws. Veach caught seven passes for 108 yards and a touchdown.
The win all but assures Oak Harbor of a playoff spot. The top three teams advance to the WesCo playoffs. With 3-3 Stanwood and bottom dwelling 0-6 Monroe the only league games remaining, it would be a major surprise for the Cats not to make the playoffs. As the Norths second place team Oak Harbor would meet the second place team from the South in the cross-over playoff for a trip to state.
WesCo North Standings
Snohomish 5 0 5 1
Oak Harbor 5 1 5 1
Lake Stevens 4 1 4 2
Cascade 3 2 3 3
Arlington 2 3 2 4
Mount Vernon 2 3 3 3
Stanwood 2 3 3 3
M-Pilchuck 1 5 1 5
Monroe 0 6 0 6
WesCo South Standings
Ed.-Woodway 5 1 5 1
Kamiak 5 1 5 1
Mariner 4 2 4 2
Meadowdale 4 2 4 2
Shorewood 4 2 4 2
Mt. Lk. Terrace 3 3 3 3
Everett 2 4 2 4
Jackson 2 4 2 4
Shorecrest 1 5 1 5
Lynnwood 0 6 0 6