Oak Harbor, meet Ben Peterson.
Peterson spearheaded Squalicum’s attack in the Storm’s 47-20 romp over the Oak Harbor High School football team Friday, Sept. 30, at Bellingham’s Civic Stadium.
Last year when Squalicum played in the Northwest Conference, Peterson, a two-way all-conference athlete, was voted the league’s Most Valuable Player. This year he is terrorizing the Wesco North, and Oak Harbor is his latest victim.
The game was a showdown of two undefeated teams ranked in the state’s top-10 3A poll. It wasn’t close.
Peterson did a little bit (or should that be a lotta bit) of everything. He rushed for 141 yards on eight carries, caught two passes for 26 yards, threw a pass out of the Wildcat formation good for 29 yards, scored three touchdowns, returned kicks, kicked off and kicked the Storm’s PATs.
The 5′ 10”, 170-pound speedster introduced himself immediately. On the first play of the game, Peterson jetted 69 yards on a fly sweep for a touchdown.
Oak Harbor went three-and-out, and it took the Storm, who were celebrating Homecoming, less than three minutes to score again when Garrett Sorenson hit Damek Mitchell with a 27-yard TD strike.
In a blink of an eye, it was 13-0, Sqaulicum.
Once again, it was three-and-out for the Wildcats, and things looked to get worse for Oak Harbor after a short punt gave the Storm the ball at the Oak Harbor 41.
The Wildcats, however, stopped Peterson on a fourth-and-one play and then marched 81 yards for a touchdown. Princeton Lollar, who had a 24-yard run in the drive, scored from the 2-yard line. Josh Coe kicked the point after, and it was 13-7.
When Oak Harbor once again held the Storm on downs, it looked like the Wildcats had settled in and would make a game of it.
The Wildcats drove into Storm territory but failed on a fourth-and-one at the Squalicum 41 with 3:16 left in the first half.
That was the beginning of a disastrous five-minute run for Oak Harbor. Sorenson completed seven of eight passes as the Storm went 59 yards for a score with 35 seconds remaining in the second quarter. The PAT kick was blocked, but Squalicum led 19-7 at the break.
Oak Harbor had the first possession of the second half but failed to get a first down even though it started with a second-and-one. A bad snap on the punt attempt forced Jordan Washington to run and he came up a few yards short.
On Squalicum’s first play of the second half, the Storm scored on a halfback pass of 38 yards by Mitchell.
Oak Harbor fumbled the kickoff at the 23, Peterson ran two plays for the score and Oak Harbor suddenly trailed 33-7.
The troubles continued. The Wildcats, again, didn’t convert on fourth down a the Squalicum 40. The Storm went 60 yards for another touchdown. Peterson carried three times for 47 yards in the drive, including the final 11.
Three plays later, Mitchell stole the ball from the Oak Harbor rusher and scored on a strip-six from 32 yards out; that made it 47-7 and set the running clock in motion.
On the first play against the Squalicum defensive reserves, TJ Hollins-Passmore bolted 80 yards for an Oak Harbor score. On the second play against the subs, Mac Nuanez ran 71 yards, setting up Lollar’s 2-yard run for a TD. Coe’s kick finished the scoring.
Thanks to those two long running plays, Oak Harbor rushed for 336 yards. Lollar finished with 122 on 24 carries, Hollins-Passmore had 120 on eight and Nuanez 107 on 11. Gabe Salinger completed one of four passes for 11 yards.
Peterson got plenty of help. Sorenson completed 12 of 15 passes for 124 yards in the first half. His two second-half passes fell incomplete. Mitchell had the halfback pass for a TD, the fumble return for a score and caught five passes for 69 yards.
Oak Harbor (1-1, 4-1), who played without its starting quarterback, No. 2 rusher and several starting defensive backs, will try to bounce back against Marysville Getchell (0-3, 1-4) at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 7, on Homecoming night.
By the way, the Squalicum program said Peterson owns a 4.0 grade point average. Also, Peterson was crowned Homecoming King at halftime. That’s an MVP.
Isaac Gomez (52) stops a Squalicum ball carrier. Photo by John Fisken.