Oak Harbor High School’s defense was good but Timberline’s was better as the Blazers blanked the Wildcats 21-0 Friday, Nov. 2, in the quad-district playoffs at South Sound Stadium in Lacey.
The loss eliminated Oak Harbor from the postseason; the Wildcats finished the fall with a 7-3 record.
Timberline (8-2) advances to the 16-team state tournament.
It is hard to say who was favored coming into the contest. The Blazers were the No. 2 seed coming out of the South Sound Conference and the Wildcats were the No. 5 team from Wesco, but Oak Harbor was ranked seventh in the last AP state 3A poll and Timberline ninth.
Regardless, it was Timberline’s stingy defense that proved to be the difference.
“I thought we played our best defensive game of the year,” Oak Harbor assistant coach Mike Fisher said. “In all honesty, the final score should have been 7-0.”
Fisher took the helm for Oak Harbor because head coach Jay Turner missed the game with an illness.
The Wildcat defense forced six turnovers but could not cash in against the Blazers’ defense, which was led by middle linebacker Jamin Fa’alago, who recorded 14 tackles, a sack and an interception — one of four by Timberline.
Oak Harbor came in the game averaging 40 points per contest and never scored few than 28 in a game. The Wildcats also came in averaging 432 yards of offense per game, 358 on the ground.
Timberline limited Oak Harbor to only 154 yards rushing and 47 passing.
Dorian Hardin ran for 61 yards on 10 carries; Caden Leckelt had 56 on 18 rushes; and Aaron Martinez 37 on 11.
Caleb Fitzgerald completed seven of 13 passes for 47 yards. Hardin had three receptions for 21 yards.
All three of Oak Harbor’s losses this year came to teams with dual-threat quarterbacks who led their teams in rushing as well as passing.
Blazer QB Hunter Campau connected on eight of 11 passes for 142 yards and ran 18 times for 93 yards.
Timberline opened the scoring when Campau hit Izaiah Jerenz on a 17-scoring strike in the second quarter.
Campau burned Oak Harbor with a 42-yard pass to JJ Graham with only four seconds left in the first half.
The Blazers scored late in the game when Keola Allison returned a short punt 30 yards for a TD.
The game was “frustrating at times,” Fisher said. But, he added, “It was hard to be frustrated too long.”
The loss was disappointing but the season wasn’t.
Before the season, the Oak Harbor coaches weren’t sure what to expect from their young and inexperienced team, and they considered reaching the quad-district playoffs far from a sure thing.
Finishing second in the Wesco North exceeded expectations, and with so many underclassmen contributing this year, the “future looks bright,” according to Fisher.