One sweet Homecoming
by MICHAEL DASHIELL
Haven't we been here before?
Sequim's Wolves assured themselves of a playoff berth and shot at the Olympic League title Friday night after clobbering Olympic 63-8.
The win keeps the Wolves (5-0 in league, 6-1 overall) tied with Port Angeles atop the league standings. Both teams are undefeated heading into the final two weeks of the season, and as no other team in the league is within a game of the rival schools, their Oct. 29 showdown will be for the league championship and top seed heading into crossover playoff games.
A league title for the Wolves will be familiar territory, after winning five of the past six crowns.
"A lot of people didn't think we would be as good as we would be," Sequim coach Erik Wiker said, following his team's blowout on Homecoming night.
"I told the kids, 'Hard work will pay off.' They stepped up. They had one of the best offseasons we've ever had."
That offseason work paid off for the Wolves, to the delight of a packed house Friday night. With fans and parents lining the fences three and four deep in part to catch a view of the Homecoming royalty, the Wolves played like kings on the field, racking up a 42-8 lead and invoking the 45-point mercy rule halfway through the third quarter.
Behind a gratuitous offensive line, Sequim senior Isaac Yamamoto ran roughshod over and through Trojan defenders for 148 yards and four touchdowns on just 16 carries, while quarterback Drew Rickerson picked apart the Trojan defense for 216 yards and a pair of scores. His favorite receiver Joey Hall punished Olympic (1-4, 1-6) with eight catches for 130 yards and a touchdown.
Special teams spurs first score
Sequim got on the board first, getting a key sack from Emilio Perete to force a Trojan fourth down. On the punt attempt, Sequim defenders got a piece of it to force a turnover on the Olympic 17-yard-line. Five plays later, Yamamoto hammered home the first of his touchdowns from 1 yard out.
Olympic quarterback Willie Kudera, the most prolific quarterback in the league in terms of yardage, connected with Qui Jan Otis on the Trojans' next drive for a key third down. But Sequim forced a turnover on downs and Yamamoto scored from 30 yards out to cap a three-play drive, giving Sequim a 13-0 lead.
The Wolves made it 20-0 early in the second quarter, after the Sequim defense stymied a Trojan drive on their own 4-yard-line. Rickerson led a 10-play drive - including connecting on six of seven passes in consecutive plays - and capped it with a 2-yard scramble for a touchdown.
Olympic, behind powerful running back Shawn Brown, answered two drives later. After the Trojans forced a turnover on downs, Brown shed would-be tacklers for a 36-yard touchdown, trimming the Sequim lead to 20-8. (Brown would wind up with 118 yards on the night, all in the first half.)
The Wolves answered promptly, using the running game for a four-play, 53-yard drive that Yamamoto finished off from 2 yards out. Sequim led 28-8.
Yamamoto was omnipresent Friday night, forcing a Trojan fumble on the next drive that teammate Kahn Mills scooped up from 12 yards out and scored. On Olympic's next drive, Kudera threw an ill-advised out route that was picked off by (who else?) Yamamoto.
Rickerson made it 42-8 Sequim just two plays later, as the Wolves' senior quarterback found a streaking Hall on a seam route that cut through the Trojan defense.
Sequim kept that 34-point lead going into the Homecoming halftime festivities.
The second half became simply a further display of Sequim's precision offense and stingy defense, as the Wolves got a touchdown catch from Michael Ballard, another touchdown run from Yamamoto and a score from Jack Wiker, while the vaunted Trojan offense (more than 1,200 passing yards prior to Friday night) continued to sputter.
"We came out focused," Erik Wiker said. "We had a team that was tough (even though) they didn't have a lot of wins. We knew we were playing a potent offense. (But) our playmakers get in space and do things."
Vikings are next
Once considered to be the other top team in the Olympic League heading into the 2010 season, North Kitsap's Vikings (1-4 in league, 1-6 overall) have had a forgettable season thanks to injuries and player suspensions.
North Kitsap is coming off a 34-7 home loss to Port Angeles.
A.J. Milyard leads the Vikings in passing with 634 yards while Jon Hawkins is North's leading rusher with 306 yards.
Sequim and North Kitsap haven't played each other since 1990.
The Wolves host North Kitsap on Oct. 22; game time is 7 p.m.
The Wolves conclude the regular season a week later in Port Angeles in what is surely the most important game in Clallam County in recent memory. The undefeated Roughriders are coming off a winless season while the Wolves are looking to repeat as league champions.
The Olympic League top seed takes on the South Puget Sound League's No. 4-seeded team on Saturday, Nov. 6.
Reach Michael Dashiell at firstname.lastname@example.org.