On a night Sequim High celebrated its 2008 homecoming, the Wolves took a big step toward making state tournament travel plans.
Sequim's steady, controlled offense and a bend-but-not-break defense produced a workman-like 21-3 victory against North Mason Friday night, helping the Wolves stay in a tie for second place in the Olympic/Nisqually League and, with three games left in the season, closer to securing one of the league's three state playoff spots.
"I think we were a better team than them, even with making the mistakes we did," Sequim coach Erik Wiker said. "They shot themselves in the foot (but) they also recovered from it well (and) overcame adversity."
Despite numerous mistakes - three turnovers and 12 penalties, two of which negated touchdowns and two more drive-sustaining pass interference calls - the Wolves dominated in most aspects, particularly in the trenches; Sequim out-rushed North Mason 171-114 while Bulldogs got their first third-down conversion with 10 minutes to go in the game. North Mason also was just one-of-five on crucial fourth-down plays.
"This was a huge win for us; it showed how good we can be even with mistakes," Sequim lineman Thomas Gallagher said. "Their offensive line was quick ... but we out-hit them and overpowered them."
The Wolves' opening drive gave the Bulldogs a taste of what their evening would be like: Sequim drove 85 yards on 20 plays, chewing nearly nine minutes off the game clock. Brad Woolf capped the drive with a 5-yard score, capped by Clancy Catelli's two-point conversion.
North Mason responded behind quarterback Daniel Baker, who found lumbering tight end John Fullington for a 20-yard pass and later ran for 10 yards on fourth down to preserve the drive. But facing fourth down on Sequim's 6-yard-line, Bulldog Rocky Guimont got stuffed on a short gain.
North Mason did break through on their next drive. Following a Sequim fumble, North Mason's Kasey Bielec drilled a 39-yard field goal with 3:56 remaining in the first half.
It looked as if North Mason would take all the momentum into halftime when, on Sequim's next play from scrimmage, Tim Winslow appeared to pick off Sequim quarterback Drew Rickerson's downfield throw. But referees insisted the ball touched the ground. With a reprieve, Rickerson and the Wolves drove 56 yards in nine plays, capped by a Rickerson-to-Catelli 12-yard scoring pass.
Despite some mayhem in the half's final 35 seconds - an interception by each team, a fake field goal and two touchdown-saving tackles - Sequim held onto a 14-3 lead at halftime.
The teams traded possessions for the entirety of the third quarter. The Wolves finally broke through early in the fourth when they shrugged off two holding penalties and a false start to go 56 yards in 12 plays, capped by Rickerson's 1-yard plunge and 21-3 advantage.
The Bulldogs had one last gasp, sustaining a long fourth-quarter drive with two pass interference calls. But with Bielec in at quarterback for a rare play, Wolves linebacker Isaac Yamamoto drilled the North Mason sophomore for a big loss, and
Sequim senior Kevin Beck sacked Baker on the next play, effectively ending the Bulldogs' hopes.
Woolf and C.J. Kapetan added sacks on the next North Mason drive.
"It's awesome for a homecoming win," Yamamoto said. "We just came out and hit them hard."
Sequim's Travis Decker finished with 101 rushing yards while Catelli had 29 rushing yards and 77 receiving yards, most of those after the catch.
Up next for Sequim is a road trip to Eatonville Oct. 24. The Cruisers (3-1 in league, 4-3 overall) edged Fife 12-10 to set up next week's big game. Two years ago, Sequim beat Eatonville 21-17 to advance to the class 2A state playoffs, where they lost to the eventual state champ Lynden in the first round.
"(Eatonville) is a solid team," Wiker said, recalling the 2006 match-up. "I'm going to tell the team, this is one of our first playoff games. We're going to have to learn to drive a long ways and play some football."
The winner of the Eatonville-Sequim game controls the league's No. 2 seed with just two games left in the regular season.
Wiker's "towel" play - a trick play he calls for each homecoming, signaled by twirling a white towel - saw Chris Pruden throw a touchdown pass to John Textor out of the "swinging gate" formation. A penalty negated the score, but Sequim scored three plays later anyway - Sequim hasn't lost to North Mason since 2000. Since then, the Wolves have racked up a 9-0 mark against the Bulldogs - Yamamoto and Woolf each had a sack and an interception. The duo also led the Wolves with 10 tackles each.
Woolf leads the team with 75 tackles and seven sacks so far this season - Decker leads the Wolves with 696 rushing yards and eight touchdowns, while Rickerson has thrown for 576 yards and five scores.
Back as Sequim's point-after-touchdown kicker for the first time in three weeks, Erik Huston made good on his only PAT attempt in the fourth quarter - Rickerson and Gallagher handled kickoff responsibilities for the Wolves. Decker (junior) and Rickerson (sophomore) both were named to the Sequim High School's homecoming court at halftime.
Play of the game
After a 20-play, nine-minute scoring drive to open the game, Sequim's Wolves saw North Mason drive to Sequim's 6-yard-line early in the second quarter. But a resilient defense - one that held North Mason to less than 200 total yards and eight first downs - stuffed the Bulldogs on a fourth-and-four. North Mason, that came into the game averaging nearly 25 points per game, never found the end zone.