League title in sight

In 13 years of coaching Oak Harbor football, Dave Ward has never witnessed a running attack quite like the one he’s seen this season.

“This is the best combination of line and running backs that we’ve had...compared to any of the others I’ve coached,” he said.

Continuing to use that strength, the Wildcats cruised to their fifth straight win in a 35-7 homecoming rout of Stanwood Friday night.

Ten different Oak Harbor running backs combined for 392 total yards and scored all five touchdowns on the ground.

“We just have so many good running backs to get the ball to, its crazy” senior tailback Kyle Isaacson said. “All of us just get the job done so well and we really expect a lot from each other.”

Isaacson had 41-yards on seven carries and one touchdown. Senior Blake Ward led the Cats with 92-yards and two touchdowns, junior Dan Raymond had 70-yards and one touchdown and senior Adam Diaz ran for 46-yards and one touchdown.

Much of the credit for running the ball so successfully went to the play of the Oak Harbor offensive line.

“Our line is so fast and quick,” Isaacson said.

Averaging 210 pounds, the starting line often faces opponents 50-plus pounds heavier, making that speed and quickness essential.

“We’ve got an advantage because we’re faster than them coming off the line so we can just push them around and we beat them a good half second off the ball,” senior center Andrew Horning said.

Horning (206) along with starting offensive lineman Jake Jansen (255), Patrick O’Brien (193), Chris Raimundi (197) and Ryan Payne (202) showed just how effective their quickness can be on the Cats’ opening drive Friday. Beginning at their own 46-yard line, Oak Harbor pounded the ball down to the Stanwood 35 on four runs. On the ensuing play, Diaz took the handoff and picked up some key blocks from the line, breaking loose down the right sideline untouched into the endzone. The extra point was good by Blake Ward, who was a perfect 5-of-5 for the game, giving the Cats a 7-0 lead with 8:36 to go in the first quarter.

Stanwood looked like they were in for a battle early, as they responded only three minutes after the Wildcat score. Taking advantage of an Oak Harbor fumble, the Spartans received great field position at the Wildcat 25. On a third-and-four from the 20, Stanwood quarterback Richard Abrams floated a perfect pass to Josh Aufai, who caught the ball in the right front corner of the endzone. With the extra point, the game was tied 7-7.

Oak Harbor quickly put to rest any hopes the Spartans had of pulling ahead. With no time left on the first quarter clock, Raymond took a handoff up the middle and shook free of tacklers for a 64-yard score. A 1-yard plunge by Blake Ward with 4:06 to go in the second quarter gave the Wildcats a 21-7 lead at halftime.

Oak Harbor added two more scores in the second half on a 10-yard run from Isaacson in the third quarter and a 7-yard score from Ward late in the fourth quarter.

The strong play of the Oak Harbor defense is also not to be forgotten. The Cats held a usually strong Stanwood rushing attack to 101-yards on the ground. Ward was the leading tackler with nine, followed by Kenny Barner and Nate Metcalf with eight apiece.

The secondary also came up with key plays, including an interception at the Oak Harbor 1-yard line by James Blunk early in the third quarter.

Now at 6-1 in league and 7-1 overall, the Wildcats can seal their second consecutive league title with a victory in their final league game at Monroe this Friday. Even with a loss Oak Harbor could receive first place with a Lake Stevens loss in one of their two remaining league games. After sharing the league crown with Snohomish last season, the Cats are looking forward to the possibility of having it all to themselves.

“There will be no co-title,” Horning said. “We’re not going to share it with anyone this year.”

Although Monroe (1-5, 2-6) is second to last in the league, the Cats know they can’t be taken lightly.

“We have to take them very seriously,” coach Ward said. “They’re going to be fired up for us. They felt a little ganged up on last year. They’re going to want to show us they’re for real.”

Kickoff is set for 7 p.m., Friday, Oct. 31 at Monroe Stadium.

Oak Harbor returns to Memorial Stadium the following Friday, Nov. 7 to face the number five team from the KingCo Conference in their final regular season game.

Oak Harbor 35, Stanwood 7

Oak Harbor 14 7 7 7—35

Stanwood 7 0 0 0— 7

Oak Harbor-Diaz 35-yard run (Ward kick good), Stanwood-Abrahams 20-yard pass to Aufai (Rockstad kick good), Oak Harbor-Raymond 64-yard run (Ward kick good).Oak Harbor-Ward 1-yard run (Ward kick good). Oak Harbor-Isaacson 10-yard run (Ward kick good). Oak Harbor-Ward 7-yard run (Ward kick good).

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