Sports

Defense keys league victory

When facing Cascade it’s no secret.

They’re going to give the opponent’s defense a steady diet of 5-foot-9, 220 pound running back J.P. Oliver.

Oak Harbor certainly knew it on Friday night and they were ready as they shut down Oliver and the rest of the Bruin offense to grab a 14-7 home victory.

“He’s a big back for them,” Oak Harbor senior linebacker Blake Bebee said. “I had a picture over my bed with Oliver on it and we were just thinking Oliver all week.”

The prepared Wildcat defense was led by Bebee, who had 16 tackles six of which were behind the line of scrimmage.

Oliver had 15 carries for 46 yards. Eight of those runs were for one yard or less.

“They built their offense around him..,” OHHS coach Dave Ward said. “They really give him the ball a lot and our guys keyed on him.”

Although the Wildcat defense played strong most of the night, it was big second quarter plays from the offense that put Oak Harbor over the top.

After senior Gabe Vest recovered a botched punt return at the Cascade 34 yard line, the Wildcats immediately capitalized.

On the very next play junior quarterback Marshall Lobbestael picked up a bobbled snap and found sophomore wide receiver Rodrick Rumble wide open in the end zone for a 34-yard score with 10:34 remaining in the first half.

After forcing Cascade to punt the ball on its next possession, the Wildcats struck again.

This time senior running back Josh Yoder capped off a six-play, 64-yard drive by breaking into the end zone from 18 yards out.

That was all Oak Harbor needed, as they continued to shut down the Bruin offense into the fourth quarter. Cascade was forced to punt seven times in the game and turned the ball over three times on downs.

“We played real good defense,” Ward said. “We had good coverage down field and the quarterback was scrambling for his life a few times.”

Cascade finally found success with its offense with 3:41 to go in the game. After getting his progress stopped to the left side, running back Travis Warren cut back to the right and beat the Oak Harbor defense down the field for a 70-yard touchdown.

The Bruins got the ball back on an ensuing onside kick with 3:36 to go, but the Wildcats’ defense forced Cascade into two turnovers on downs in the final portion of the game and sealed the win.

To go along with the standout game of Bebee, Cameron Kays and Vest also had strong defensive performances. Kays had eight tackles and two pass deflections at cornerback and Vest had eight tackles and one pass deflection at linebacker.

Offensively, sophomore Chris Valencia led the Wildcats in rushing with eight carries for 44 yards.

Lobbestael completed 8-for-14 pass attempts for 108 yards and one touchdown.

“This was big,” Ward said. “Winning at home is pretty important when the league’s this close.”

The Wildcats will travel to Snohomish at 7 p.m., Friday, Sept. 16 to face the Panthers (1-1) in what is traditionally a tough game.

Ward knows it won’t be any different this year and that any kind of mistakes will have to be eliminated to pull off a win on the Panther’s home field.

“We go down to Snohomish with a real clear focus that we’ve got to tighten up and make fewer mistakes — play smarter and it’s going to come down to the wire again,” Ward said.

Scoring — (OH) Rumble 34 yard pass from Lobbestael (Lokkins kick). (OH) Yoder 18 yard run (Lokkins kick). (C) Warren 70 yard run (Snel kick).

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