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Big victory ends Wildcat season
You would have thought they’d won the league championship.
The Oak Harbor High School football team concluded the 2008 season Friday night on the wet turf at Wildcat Memorial Stadium with a rousing 14-7 victory over Kamiak.
This season was frustrating at times for the young Wildcat team who gained a lot of experience during the 4-6 campaign — experience that will surely be put to good use in 2009. And a 14-7 win in the final game is something to savor and something to build on.
Fans, those who braved Friday’s inclement weather conditions, and players alike celebrated the victory and the players showered first-year head coach Jay Turner with the Gatorade water cooler as the clock ticked off the final seconds.
“It’s a good way to end the season with a win,” Turner said.
As in past memorable seasons the Wildcats never trailed and it took another big defensive stand in the final two minutes to nail down the victory.
The first half of the game was scoreless with both squads in a “feeling out process” on a wet and windy evening.
Oak Harbor put the first points on the board at the 6:42 mark of the third quarter on a 3-yard run by quarterback J Jordan.
Rashaad Smith set up the touchdown by making a great catch of a Jordan pass at the Kamiak 2-yardline.
On a fourth-and-13 play from the Kamiak 31-yard line, the junior wide receiver got behind the Knight secondary and made a leaping grab just short of the goal line while managing to keep his feet inbounds.
Kevin Flavin added the extra point for a 7-0 lead.
“We knew we had to come out and win,” Smith said. “We wanted to help our seniors do good in their last game so they would have a good memory when they leave the school.”
The Knights came right back following the kickoff to tie the score mounting a 10-play, 80-yard drive, capped by a 5-yard touchdown pass from Sam Ruppel to Josh Glenn.
Kamiak kicker Kyle Watts’ extra point was good and the score was tied 7-7.
The score remained knotted into the fourth quarter and with 5:34 remaining in the game, Turner and the Wildcats took a chance.
With the ball at the Oak Harbor 29-yard line and facing a fourth and one situation, senior running back Stephen Lewis got a key first down powering up the middle for a 2-yard gain.
Then, with 4:37 remaining in the contest, Jordan hooked up with wide receiver Derrick Clarit on a 78-yard scoring strike to put the Wildcats in the lead.
Clarit also made a great sliding catch of a pass in the first Wildcat touchdown drive.
“I don’t know which catch was better, they were both equally good for me,” he said. “As long as the team moves forward and we got it, that’s what’s most important.”
Flavin’s kick made the score 14-7, but the game was far from over.
Kamiak began its drive for the potential tying score and when Ruppel hit Chris Carrey with a long pass to give the Knights a first down at the Wildcat 28-yard line.
Things got extremely tense two plays later, when Oak Harbor was penalized for pass interference giving Kamiak a first down at the Wildcat 11-yard line with 2:25 left in the game.
Then it was time for the purple and gold defense to shine.
The Wildcats made three stops on consecutive plays, including a sack of Ruppel by Greg Goebel for a 12-yard loss, bringing up a fourth down from the 20-yard line.
“I saw him rolling out and I knew I had to stop him for the win,” Goebel said. “I tried as hard as I could and hit him as hard as I could because this is my last game ever and I wanted to go out in style.”
Kamiak set up a screen pass on fourth down and the ball ended up being tossed around before Ruppel was buried by a host of tacklers at the 35-yard line giving Oak Harbor possession.
“This was a big win for us and something we can build on for next season,” Turner said.
It was a great way to end another Oak Harbor football season, a fun time for everyone involved. The lads got Turner good, he never saw it coming.