Mistakes plague Wildcats in 21-12 loss

What if?

It’s never a question one likes to ask, but the thoughts were no doubt swirling through the minds of Oak Harbor football players and coaches after a tough 21-12 Homecoming loss to Stanwood on Friday night.

A dropped pass in the end zone, a fumble inside the opponent’s 5-yard line and a touchdown called back on a holding penalty, erased three scores for the Wildcats.

“This is a good team and you can’t make mistakes like that,” OHHS coach Dave Ward said. “They have a good ball-control offense and you only get so many chances and you can’t squander them away like that.”

On the first drive of the game Oak Harbor moved the ball down the field with ease. Facing third down and 11 from the Spartan 34-yard line, senior Cash Parker took a pitch from quarterback Marshall Lobbestael. Instead of running the ball, Parker, the back up quarterback, surprised the defense and threw the ball to wide receiver James Blunk in the end zone. The ball, however, slipped through the hands of Blunk, eventually forcing a turnover on downs for the Wildcats.

The Spartans capitalized on the ensuing possession when quarterback Aaron Boehme connected with wide receiver Daes Kaufman for a 28-yard touchdown pass on fourth and long.

The score remained 7-0 until the 3:41 mark of the second quarter when Oak Harbor again tried a trick play. This time Lobbestael connected with Parker on a lateral pass to the left side of the field. Parker took the pass and made a 20-yard throw of his own, finding tight end Brian Wandell open in the middle of the end zone for the TD.

Parker, who was ineligible the entire season prior to Friday’s game, added a whole new look to the Wildcat offense with his speed and ability to throw the ball.

“This week we put in a bunch of new knows that I’m a weapon,” he said.

The ensuing PAT by Cory Fakkema missed just left, leaving Oak Harbor down 7-6 at halftime.

Stanwood jumped out of the gate quickly in the second half. The Spartans went 71 yards on eight plays, capped off by a 3-yard touchdown run from running back Jon Rockstad.

Down eight, 14-6, and very much in the contest, things took a sudden turn for the Wildcats with 6:00 left in the third quarter.

Moving into Stanwood territory, Parker ran a sweep from the Spartan 11-yard line. Appearing to be on his way to the end zone, the ball was knocked loose from behind and recovered by Stanwood at its own 3-yard line.

Oak Harbor forced a Stanwood punt, but the Wildcats ran into more trouble on their next drive.

On a third down, Parker took the snap and ran a bootleg around the left sideline for what appeared to be a 24-yard touchdown. The score, however, was called back because of a holding penalty.

Oak Harbor eventually turned the ball over to Stanwood on downs, but remained in the game after forcing yet another Spartan punt.

The punt was fielded by Blunk at the Wildcat 31. Moving a few steps to his left, the senior had the ball ripped out of his hands by Philip Long, who went untouched to the end zone.

Facing a 21-6 deficit going into the fourth quarter, Oak Harbor was unable to pull off one of the come-from-behind-victories they achieved in their last three games.

“Even if we get down we usually pick ourselves back up, but that’s just what we lacked in the end right there,” Parker said.

The Wildcats added a score with 6:00 to go in the game on a 14-yard screen pass from Lobbestael to Dan Raymond, but a failed two-point conversion left the win out of reach.

Despite the loss, Oak Harbor out-gained Stanwood in total offense, racking up 344 yards, to the 259 of the Spartans.

Raymond led the way on the ground with 15 carries for 103 yards, while Lobbestael was 16-for-27 passing for 178 yards.

Rockstad was key to the Spartan victory, rushing 27 times for 109 yards. He also kicked all three extra points and handled the punting duties for the Spartans.

As for the hopes of getting into the district playoffs for the third straight year, destiny is still in the Wildcats’ hands. Oak Harbor (4-2, 4-3) faces the league’s top two teams, Arlington (5-1, 6-1) and Marysville-Pilchuck (6-1, 6-1) over the final two weeks. Two wins from OHHS could guarantee no worse than a tie-breaker for one of the WesCo North’s three district playoff spots.

“We still have got an outside shot for sneaking in there, but we’ve got to take care of business next week and see who beats who,” Ward said.

The Wildcats travel to Arlington at 7 p.m., Friday, Oct. 22. The Eagles, this year’s surprise team in the WesCo North, are coming off their first loss of the season at Marysville-Pilchuck.

Stanwood 21, Oak Harbor 12

Stanwood 7 0 14 0—21

Oak Harbor 0 6 0 6—12

Scoring—Stanwood: Kaufman 28 pass from Boehm (Rockstad kick). Oak Harbor: Wandell 20 yard pass from Parker (kick failed). Stanwood: Rockstad 3 yard run (Rockstad kick). Long 31 yard fumble return (Rockstad kick). Oak Harbor: Raymond 14 yard pass from Lobbestael (pass failed).

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