Oak Harbor notches first victory

Cats defeat Shorewood 7-6 for homecoming

“On an evening filled with the magical number one, the Oak Harbor Wildcats proved that the Seattle Mariners weren’t the only team in Washington to prevail last Friday evening by one.Oak Harbor defeated Shorewood 7-6 at a Memorial Stadium packed for Oak Harbor’s homecoming.Throughout the spirited evening, there was a feeling of excitement and determination both on the field and on the faces of the Oak Harbor faithful in attendance who witnessed a back-and-forth battle from both the Wildcats and the Thunderbirds of Shorewood.One, the number of touchdowns scored by both teams. One, the number of victories this season for the Wildcats (after this game). One, the skipped beat in everyone’s heart as the potential game-winning field goal attempt came up short for Shorewood. One, the biggest gala of the year, homecoming. This game had as many ups and downs as the price of gasoline these days.It seemed that the Wildcats had destiny on their side right from the get go, though. A see-saw first half saw Tony Hall run through the Shorewood defenders like a hot knife through butter. Hall totaled more than 100 yards rushing by half time. Meanwhile, the Wildcat defense, led by Brian Lang, bent but would not break. The Wildcats marched 55-yards down the field in 1:39 to score what would prove to be the game-winning touchdown with 10:37 left in the second quarter. Hall danced his way for a 30 yard touchdown like Gene Kelly through a Whidbey downpour to give the Wildcats a 6-0 lead. After a successful point after kick by Jess Barker, Oak Harbor held a 7-0 lead. The Wildcats played strong defensively, and Oak Harbor turned to ball control on offense, as running back Nick Garcia was able to pound straight ahead for the rest of the first half to maintain the slim lead going into the locker room.The Wildcats even had a chance to extend the lead to 10-0 with 6 seconds left on the first half clock, but the 16-yard field goal attempt by Barker was muffed when Oak Harbor fumbled the set.It was beginning to look like the Wildcats would control the game on this homecoming night, but there was this thing called the second half, and the Thunderbirds were determined to grab the spotlight.At 11:56 of the fourth quarter, Shorewood’s quarterback Sean Rybar connected on a 69 yard touchdown pass to Zach McAllister. That closed the gap to one point at 7-6. Thunderbird kicker Kyle Young missed the extra point wide right.After both teams stalled offensively in the fourth quarter, Oak Harbor had the chance to seal the deal with 2:14 left in the game when Wildcat Grant Bull intercepted a Rybar pass at the Wildcat 25 yard line. But the Shorewood defense forced a Wildcat punt and the Thunderbird offense managed to get the ball back at its own 35 yard line, with one more chance to score. Shorewood’s hurry-up offense moved the ball quickly, and got to the Oak Harbor 29 yard line with 14 seconds left on the game clock. Shorewood coach Jeff Weible sent in his placekicker Young to try and win it for the Thunderbirds. The Wildcat crowd was on its feet, sparked by the Wildcat cheerleaders. The fans from Shorewood were standing too. The offensive and defensive lines were set. The snap was perfect and the kick was right down the middle. Could this be? Would Shorewood send the Wildcats home with their fifth consecutive loss? You guessed it. The kick was just one yard short. A Wildcat victory! A feeling of jubilation coupled with relief filled Memorial Stadium as coach Dave Ward and the Wildcats notched that elusive first victory of the season to cap off a successful homecoming evening.———Next upOak Harbor vs. ShorecrestWhere: Shoreline StadiumWhen: Friday, 7:30 p.m. “