Cats control Snohomish

Saying Friday’s game against Snohomish held importance for the Oak Harbor football team would be an understatement.

“The whole week everyone knew we had to beat them,” senior quarterback John Lobbesteal said.

Not only was breaking a seven-year losing skid to the Panthers on their minds, but in order to keep playoff hopes alive, a win was a must. Just two teams from the WesCo North and South will advance to the district playoffs this year, instead of the three of last season. A 24-17 loss to league-leader Lake Stevens Sept. 19, meant the Cats could ill-afford to lose to Snohomish, who came into Friday’s game tied for first with Lake Stevens.

Not only did Oak Harbor step up to the challenge, but they did it in impressive fashion, shutting out the Panthers 19-0 in front of a packed Memorial Stadium.

“It’s my fourth time (beating Snohomish) and it’s my sweetest one,” head coach Dave Ward said. “It was a must win.”

Oak Harbor, now 5-1 overall and 4-1 in league, picked up their victory over the Panthers in an unexpected way. Facing a much larger line, out-weighed by close to 20 to 40 pounds a man, the Wildcats dominated the line of scrimmage.

“It’s pretty rare anyone controls the line of scrimmage against Snohomish and to do that on both sides of the ball was a lot of fun,” Ward said.

A variety of Wildcat running backs benefited from the strong play of their offensive line, totaling 211-yards on the ground. Junior Dan Raymond led the way with 67- yards on six carries, Blake Ward had one touchdown and 66-yards on 10 carries, while senior Kyle Issacson picked up 42-yards on eight carries.

“We’re lucky we have so many running backs,” Ward said.

Oak Harbor scored on their first possession not on the ground, but through the air. After the Cats ran the ball nine straight times, Lobbesteal threw his first pass of the game. On a third-and-five from just outside the 5-yard line and 47 seconds remaining on the first quarter clock, he connected with senior wide-receiver Ryan McCormick in the end zone. McCormick, who initially fell down after blocking, hopped right back up and was left wide open for the score. The play capped off a 64-yard drive that ate up almost five minutes.

“That was a designed play and it worked to perfection,” Lobbesteal said.

Lobbesteal finished the game 5-of-8 passing for 54-yards and one TD.

The Oak Harbor defense was also impressive, only allowing the Panthers within the 40-yard line once. On the first Snohomish drive of the game, the Panthers were able to work the ball down to the Cats’ 34-yard line. They eventually turned the ball over on downs after junior corner back James Blunk batted away a fourth-down pass. The only other time Snohomish threatened to score was after Blunk fumbled a punt return at the Oak Harbor 25 midway through the second quarter. The defense went on to hold the Panthers three-and-out and a long field goal. The 42-yard attempt by Ace Youngren sailed wide left.

Ward and Raymond were the leading tacklers for Oak Harbor with eight apiece. Senior defensive end Nate Metcalf had two of the Cats’ three sacks, while seniors Chris Raimundi, Ryan Payne and Patrick O’Brien all had huge games holding the usually strong Panther run attack to 79 -yards.

The defense received their most pivotal play, with a 7-0 lead and 6:00 left in the third quarter. Ward stepped in front of a Jeff Rodland pass attempt and returned the ball 36-yards down to the Snohomish three.

“I saw the quarterback roll out and I saw the ball released,” Ward said. “I just put my hands up and it stuck.”

On the ensuing play Metcalf pounded the ball across the goal line for a 13-0 lead. The P.A.T. was no good.

Oak Harbor put the game away with 7:07 remaining in the fourth quarter after Ward rammed his way in from 1-yard out. The touchdown was his eighth in the last three weeks.

Oak Harbor plays a Thursday night game against Cascade at 7 p.m., tomorrow, Oct. 16 at Everett Memorial Stadium.

The Bruins (1-3, 2-4) are having an off year, but that doesn’t mean the Cats can afford to have a let down with three league games to go.

“We can’t take anybody for granted,” coach Ward said.

Oak Harbor has their homecoming game against an upstart Stanwood team, Oct. 24, before rounding out league play at Monroe Oct 31.

Oak Harbor 19, Snohomish 0

Oak Harbor 7 0 6 6—19

Snohomish 0 0 0 0—0

Oak Harbor-Lobbesteal 6-yard pass to McCormick (Parker kick good), Oak Harbor-Metcalf 3-yard run (kick failed), Oak Harbor-Ward 1-yard run (kick failed).

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