Wildcats lose heart-breaker to Monroe 26-21

Rashaad Smith makes a diving catch for the Wildcats Friday night.

Yikers! You couldn’t say it wasn’t exciting.

It was thrilling, it was heart-stopping, and it was a loss.

Oak Harbor High School’s football team suffered a crushing 26-21 defeat to Monroe Friday night at Wildcat Memorial Stadium.

The Wildcat coaching staff sent in backup quarterback Luke Felkner in the third quarter to hopefully, as offensive coordinator Mike Fisher said, “spark” Oak Harbor’s stagnant offense which had yet to score in seven quarters this season. In the fourth quarter, the spark became an inferno.

For three quarters Monroe was on cruise control, dominated both sides of the ball, and took a 19-0 lead into the fourth quarter. The Bearcat offense piled up one big play after another. Quarterback Tony DiMaggio had pass completions of 40, 41, 40, 33, and 24 yards among his successful attempts, and the Bearcat backs had seven carries that netted at least 10 yards each.

Senior Felkner and his teammates then went to work from their own 20 with 9:01 left in the game and trailing by three touchdowns. Senior Patrick Higbee got things going with an 18-yard run. Then Felkner hit sophomore wide receiver Mike Washington Jr. in stride for a 60-yard TD and Oak Harbor was on the board for the first time in 2009. Senior Ryan Fakkema booted the extra point.

Monroe went three-and-out, and senior Donovan Hunt returned the punt 18 yards to the Oak Harbor 47. Felkner hit senior Josh Higbee for 10 yards, then connected with Washington again on a 43-yard touchdown pass with 5:52 left. Fakkema again added the PAT.

The Oak Harbor defense forced another three-and-out. This time Hunt returned the kick 14 yards to the Monroe 38 with 3:24 left. On second and 10, Felkner scrambled for 15 yards and then hit Washington for 14 more; Oak Harbor had first and goal from the four. Washington snared a fade pass in the corner of the end zone with an outstanding, diving grab, and Oak Harbor suddenly was ahead. Fakkema hit the extra point, and Oak Harbor was on top 21-19 with 2:56 left in the game.

After just over six minutes of nearly perfect football, the Wildcats would be undone by four mistakes in the few moments.

First, the Wildcat coverage unit allowed Joe Kim to return the kickoff 72 yards to the Oak Harbor 18. Then on third and 14 with 2:20 left, a Wildcat defensive back dropped an easy interception. Now fourth and 14, Monroe threw an incomplete pass, but Oak Harbor was flagged for pass interference on a close call. The Bearcats had a first down at the 11 with 1:51 left. Two plays later Monroe scored on a DiMaggio sneak, the PAT kick was good, and Oak Harbor trailed 26-21 with 1:01 left.

Starting at the 35, Felkner hit junior Sam Wolfe for 8 yards, then junior Aaron Boesch for 16, and Oak Harbor had first and 10 at the Monroe 42 with 35 seconds left. Felkner then made his one mistake; he threw an interception.

Oak Harbor dropped to 0-2 and will host Everett next Friday, followed by a game with Mount Vernon. Head coach Jay Turner said, “We have those two nonleague games to correct our mistakes and build a little momentum for the heart of our season.”

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