by MICHAEL DASHIELL
Talk about living up to the hype.
While Friday night's showdown between Sequim and Port Angeles might not have produced much drama, it did clearly define the top team of the Olympic League.
Sequim's Wolves racked up nearly 500 yards while shutting down a Roughrider defense in front of about 4,200 fans at P.A.'s Civic Field on Oct. 29.
Senior Drew Rickerson threw for 254 yards and three touchdowns and added another pair of touchdown runs as Sequim locked up the top seed to its district crossover game.
It's the sixth league championship in seven years for the Wolves, who take on Washington High School on Nov. 6 in Poulsbo (see box).
A win this week helps Sequim advance to the class 2A state playoffs for the fifth consecutive season.
"Experience in big games helped us (tonight)," Wolves' coach Erik Wiker said.
"We just wanted to send a message," said Sequim senior wide receiver Joey Hall, who had five catches for 103 yards and a score.
And send a message they did, erupting for 27 points in the first half.
Led by junior Frank Catelli, Sequim's defense was busy frustrating a Port Angeles offense that came in scoring 37 points per game.
"What (P.A.) has done on offense, they've gotten much better," Wiker said. "Our defense played well. It was a simple but effective game plan."
That game plan eventually forced Roughrider Keenen Walker to try to win the game through the air. With a strong corps of rushers, Port Angeles came into the game with a 230-yards-per-game ground attack. Sequim's defense allowed a handful of first downs on the ground but allowed Walker to connect on only one pass in the first half - and that found the hands of Hall for an interception.
Sequim scored first, getting a 47-yard quick screen from Rickerson to Tyler Forshaw. That set up a 12-yard, Rickerson-to-Catelli pass play and 7-0 Sequim lead.
The teams traded possessions into the second quarter before Sequim broke through again. A five-play, 46-yard drive ended when Rickerson scampered 17 yards through the Roughrider defense.
The Wolves made it 20-0 about three minutes later, as Rickerson took it in from 8 yards out.
"Drew has really found his game this year," Wiker said. "We emphasized (to him) that he needed to make some plays with his feet. He's a great chain-mover. He's so calm; he doesn't get flustered."
On Sequim's next possession, the Wolves needed just two plays to go 74 yards. Isaac Yamamoto, who led the Wolves with 109 rushing yards on just 11 carries, blitzed up the middle for 34 yards. On the next play, Rickerson found Hall from 40 yards out for a score.
After building that big first-half lead, the second half was perfunctory. Rickerson connected on his first eight pass attempts of the half, and Yamamoto capped that opening third-quarter drive with a 1-yard plunge.
Rickerson found Michael Ballard from 12 yards out to cap the scoring at 41-0.
Port Angeles' Roughriders, stymied by Sequim's stingy secondary and unable to consistently move the chains, had their best chance at points early in the fourth quarter. Walker led an eight-play drive highlighted by a 43-yard pass play to Ian Ward. But the Wolves stuffed the 'Riders on four consecutive plays from the 12-yard line.
The win was particularly sweet for Sequim seniors like Yamamoto, who relished the victory with friends and family on the damp Civic Field turf long after the final whistle.
The 5-foot 7-inch, 185-pound tailback had written a Bible verse on his torso - Phillippians 4:13, which reads, "I can do all this through him who gives me strength" (NIV) - for Friday night's contest.
"I was feeling confident but I knew P.A. wasn't going to roll over for us," Yamamoto said.
"This is a game you remember."
Washington up next
With the win, the Wolves are slated to take on the Washington Patriots, the South Puget Sound League's No. 4-seeded team.
Washington is coming off a 24-19 win at Pierce.
For Sequim, it's a familiar foe. The Wolves clobbered the Tacoma-based school 55-21 last year, 36-19 in 2008 and, in a 2007 class 2A state tournament play-in game, drubbed Washington 45-16.
Sergey Yevchev and Ramsey Davis lead the Patriots on the ground, each with 500-plus yards rushing. Washington quarterback Jordan Mezias throws for about 105 yards per contest, with nine touchdowns and eight interceptions.
Reach Michael Dashiell at firstname.lastname@example.org.