Wolves wear down Vikings
by MICHAEL DASHIELL
Drew Rickerson remembers this field fondly.
First touchdown? At 12 years old, playing tight end for the JV Wolfpups youth football team, he caught a pass from a fellow youngster named Joey Hall.
"I just wanted to pay him back," Rickerson said.
On Friday evening, he did. The Sequim senior quarterback found Hall for a pair of touchdowns in a 42-21 win against North Kitsap on Oct. 22, the Wolves' final home game of the season.
Rickerson finished 19-of-35 for 264 yards and four touchdowns, Isaac Yamamoto added 135 rushing yards and Hall had seven catches for 132 yards in the win.
That gives Sequim a perfect 6-0 league record and 7-1 overall mark heading into an Oct. 29 showdown with undefeated Port Angeles (6-0, 8-0).
The winner of that contest picks up the Olympic League No. 1 seed and will play the South Puget Sound League's No. 4-seeded team at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 6 in Poulsbo. The loser of Sequim-P.A. plays the SPSL'S No. 3-seeded team at 4 p.m. that same day, also in Poulsbo.
Coming into Friday night's match-up in Sequim, the Wolves and North Kitsap looked on paper like quite a mismatch as the Vikings had just one league win, a 1-6 overall record and been outscored by an average of 22.1 points per contest.
Starting with a second-quarter touchdown, Sequim scored 29 unanswered points to put the game away.
"They (North Kitsap) had nothing to lose,"
Sequim coach Erik Wiker said. "They're good. (The early Viking score was) a combination of good athletes and bad tackling. Then (we) started executing."
The Wolves allowed just three first-half first downs, and that high-powered, spread offense that can tally big points and yardage quickly did just that, topping the 40-point mark for the seventh time in eight games.
"We practice hard and when you're playing super-hard, good things happen," Wiker said.
"We can take advantage of opportunities," he said, noting that a lot of Sequim's big plays are sprung by "little things" like downfield blocks from receivers.
North Kitsap got a big play of its own to start off the game, recovering an onsides kick - a strategy they'd use throughout the game.
Sequim dodged that first-quarter bullet to score first, as Rickerson found Hall from 18 yards out six minutes in.
The Vikings responded early in the second quarter, picking off a Rickerson pass at their own 31-yard-line. On the next play, North Kitsap quarterback A.J. Milyard found Alex Nettleton, a backup quarterback playing receiver, for a short pass that he turned into a 69-yard touchdown.
After a pair of fruitless drives, Sequim kick returner Tyler Forshaw jump-started the Wolves' offense with an 80-yard punt return and three plays later Yamamoto took a screen from Rickerson 25 yards for a score and 13-7 lead.
Rickerson and Yamamoto connected on Sequim's next drive, this time from 15 yards out, for a 21-7 Sequim advantage.
Forshaw picked off a North Kitsap pass on the next Viking drive, and Rickerson, not known as a running quarterback, evaded at least five tackles on a 33-yard touchdown scramble with 1:38 left in the first half.
"He's one of our fastest guys on the team," Wiker said.
The Wolves made it 35-7 with 19 seconds in the first half, following a Viking fumble on their own 12-yard-line. Frank Catelli, lining up at quarterback, mishandled the snap but outraced the Vikings to the corner of the end zone, a 5-yard scoring run.
Sequim opened the second half with a sharp offensive drive, as Rickerson went 5-for-5 for 66 yards, capping it with a 25-yard strike to Hall, his former Wolfpup teammate.
Milyard, the North Kitsap quarterback, added a pair of touchdown throws late to cap the scoring.
Sequim now has a chance for its sixth league championship in seven years. But they'll likely have to do it in front of a packed house in Port Angeles as the Roughriders have turned around an 0-10 team in 2009 to a 9-0 squad this fall.
"It's a remarkable turnaround," Wiker said. "They believe (they can win). That's a strong thing."
Quarterback Keenen Walker leads the Roughriders with 772 passing yards and nine touchdown passes, plus seven touchdown rushes.
But the Wolves have a strong-armed signal caller leading the way as well. Rickerson has 1,554 passing yards and 18 touchdowns through the air. He's 25-5 since taking over the starting quarterback spot as a sophomore.
Sequim has outscored opponents 385-152 this fall; Port Angeles has outscored foes, 296-70.
Wiker was quick to remind his Wolves that Friday's game at Port Angeles is simply another game on the way to a league title.
"(The game) is no different than against Kingston or North Mason at those times," Wiker said. "Those were league championship games."
Sequim had three touchdowns negated by penalties - two in the second quarter and another in the third. The Wolves scored anyway ...
Sequim had 10 penalties for 75 yards, North Kitsap just one for 5 yards ... Milyard was 15-of-29 for 228 yards and three touchdowns.
Reach Michael Dashiell at firstname.lastname@example.org.