Sports

Fall football in April

 Sting wide receiver Travie McKee gets blocking help from teammate Brian Ensley to pick up a nice gain in the second quarter of Saturday’s game against the Hells Canyon Thunder. McKee scored the Sting’s second touchdown on a 52-yard reception. - Tim Adams/Whidbey News-Times
Sting wide receiver Travie McKee gets blocking help from teammate Brian Ensley to pick up a nice gain in the second quarter of Saturday’s game against the Hells Canyon Thunder. McKee scored the Sting’s second touchdown on a 52-yard reception.
— image credit: Tim Adams/Whidbey News-Times

Sting loses home opener 19-16

By TIM ADAMS

Sports editor

In today's economy, $5 usually won't buy a person very much.

However, Oak Harbor's own North Sound Sting semi-pro football team has found a way that a family can be treated to an evening of fun and excitement without flattening the wallet and ruining the weekly budget.

The Sting plays all their home games at Wildcat Memorial Stadium and tickets are a mere $5 for adults with kids under 13 and members of the military getting in for free.

What could be a better deal than that?

Saturday evening the Sting played their first home game of the 2009 Evergreen Football League season against the Hells Canyon Thunder and anyone who opted not to invest but a single Abraham Lincoln, missed a great evening of entertainment.

The local team built a 16-0 halftime lead, only to have the boys from Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho mount a huge second-half comeback to leave the stadium with a 19-16 victory.

Skeptics may raise their eyebrows and question what a semi-pro football game might be like, but anyone who was in attendance Saturday night quickly realized that there was 60 minutes of head knocking, comparable to anything you'd see in the National Football League or in a college game, taking place on the artificial turf.

The Sting, once known as the Skagit Valley Lightening and owned by Randy Rogers from Bellingham, has been in existence since 2004 and this season is the first year the team has called Oak Harbor home.

North Sound Sting football is truly a family affair for the Rogers family as Randy's wife, Alisa, and his daughters run the concession stand and handle ticket sales.

Vann Vetch from Stanwood put the first touchdown on the board for the Sting in the opening quarter.

"I think it was about a 15-yard run," he said. "I got some good blocking."

Holding a 7-0 lead, Kevin Flanagan from Seattle made the score 10-0 hitting a 26-yard field goal with 6:07 remaining in the first half.

As time wound down, the Sting put together a little magic just before the halftime break.

With less than 10 seconds remaining, quarterback Scott Leonard flipped a short pass to Tyler Nibarger in the left flat and the Anacortes resident lofted a perfect strike over the Thunder defense to split end Travis McKee for a 52-yard touchdown and a 16-0 lead.

"It was a perfect pass," McKee said. "Tyler lobbed it right over their heads."

A confident team emerged from the Sting locker room for the second half of action, but things turned around in a hurry.

With 4:24 showing on the clock in the third quarter, Thunder quarterback Jordan Gulley scored on an 18-yard run to cut the lead to 16-6.

The Sting was held three plays and out after the kickoff and a bad punt gave the Thunder possession at the 19-yard line.

As time ran out in the quarter, Gulley connected with Michael Bisbee on a 21-yard scoring pass and heading into the final 15 minutes of action, the Sting was clinging to a 16-13 lead.

"Most of our players are from Lewiston, Idaho, and Clarkston Wash., but we're more from Lewiston than Clarkston," Bisbee said.

The fourth quarter was a disaster for the home team. Leonard threw a pair of interceptions and a recovered fumble by Tui Moliga with 6:18 left led to an 11-yard pass from Gulley to Jeremy Weber for the winning score.

In the waning moments, the Sting drove the ball to the Thunder 25-yard line before another fumble sealed the hometown team's fate.

Despite the loss, it was one heck of a football game by both squads.

For a chance to view the action, the Sting's next home game is at 6 p.m. Saturday, April 25, against the Yakima Mavericks.

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