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Cats win battle of harbors
MOUNT VERNON The drought is officially over.
For the first time in school history, the Oak Harbor football program earned a state playoff victory, beating Gig Harbor 28-14 on Friday night.
Knowing that people have come here before, people that you looked up to who were a lot better than you, its amazing, junior lineman Edmundo Corrales said of the Wildcats first round win.
Since its first appearance in 1982, OHHS reached the state tournament four times. It wasnt until Friday, however, OHHS that pushed through the first round.
This is the third time weve been to this game in the last four years and its our first win, an elated OHHS head coach Dave Ward said.
OHHS, which lost to South Kitsap in 1982, was most recently eliminated by Mountain View in 2002 and Ballard in 2003.
The Wildcats earned their much-anticipated state victory on Friday by dominating the offensive and defensive lines something theyve done all season.
Going up against a Gig Harbor squad with six linemen over 250 pounds, the undersized Wildcats proved weight wasnt an issue from the opening kick.
On its first drive OHHS pushed the ball 84 yards on 12 running plays. Senior running back Gabe Vest then capped off the five-and-a-half minute series, scoring on a 8-yard counter to the right side of the line.
After stopping the Tide for a second time on defense, the Wildcats orchestrated another marathon drive. This time OHHS pushed the ball 76 yards on 15 plays before Vest ran in a 5-yard TD.
Ward credited the offensive lines dominance to the first half success and a 14-0 halftime advantage.
The line really handled their blitzes well, he said. They got into somebody, they didnt get confused and they stayed focused.
Asked how they were able to open up such big holes against often larger teams, 5-foot-10, 200 pound junior guard Matt Johnston, credited the work put in at practice.
Its the speed were in shape, he said. Its Ward giving us all of those gassers.
Corrales, a 5-foot-9, 220 pound tackle said its not just the speed, but proper technique.
It doesnt matter how big they are as long as you have your pads down, he said.
OHHS continued its dominance on both sides of the ball well into the second half.
Still 14-0 at the 3:51 mark of the third, the Wildcats took advantage of a Tide mistake.
After Gig Harbor fumbled a punt return at their own 27, OHHS countered three plays later, scoring on a 14-yard TD pass from junior quarterback Marshall Lobbestael to senior wide receiver Cameron Kays.
Kays, who had 40 yards rushing and 44 receiving, added another score early in the fourth quarter, this time running an end around for a 6-yard TD.
Gig Harbor, which showed up to the stadium over a half hour late, had trouble getting its offense moving through the first three and a half quarters.
Tide seniors Michael Murphy and Gary Cole amassed over 2,000 combined yards this season, but were held to just 55 yards on 16 carries through the first three quarters.
The duo finally found some success late with Murphy running scores from seven and 29 yards and Cole breaking lose for 75 yards on his final two carries, but Gig Harbor never got closer than two touchdowns.
Vest ended the night with 153 yards on 21 carries. Lobbestael was also efficient completing 7-of-13 passes for 104 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
The win was Oak Harbors fourth straight and improved its record to 10-1. The Wildcats enter the quarterfinals at 7:30 p.m., Friday, Nov. 18 against Skyline (11-0) in Sammamish.