FORKS — It wasn’t perfect or even pretty, but Forks was fierce defensively in a season-opening 28-8 win over Port Angeles, limiting the Roughriders to just 103 yards of total offense.
“I feel like we underperformed,” Spartans coach Emil West said.
“I talked to the kids after the game and asked them if this would win us a playoff game and they all said no, so that’s a big takeaway. They know we have to be better.”
The Spartans’ defensive line and linebackers spent most of their time in the Port Angeles backfield, shedding blockers and sniffing out Riders’ rushing attempts.
Forks piled up multiple sacks of Port Angeles quarterback Brenden Roloson-Hines as the Riders’ run game produced negative yardage overall, totaling -6 yards on 24 carries.
“We were pushing the speed on them,” Spartans defensive end Eden Cisneros said. “And I don’t think their O-line could keep up with our speed, especially on my side. I knew I had the speed and as soon as I could chop those hands off me, it was on to the quarterback.”
The loss spoiled the debut of Port Angeles head coach Troy Mann.
“Our offensive line couldn’t get off the ball,” Mann said. “I’ll have to go back and look [on film] at how we were stepping. We couldn’t seal the edge. Credit to them, they collapsed, they got to the ball quickly. Our offensive line was off steps-wise, I expect a little more from them.”
Offensively, the Spartans’ ground game produced 273 yards and scored all four Forks touchdowns against a Port Angeles defensive line lacking injured nose tackle Tee-Jay Johnson.
Senior fullback Caleb Peters was a virtual lock to gain 5 yards every time he ran the football, totaling 18 carries for 101 yards and two rushing touchdowns. Peters’ bruising classmate Tristen Pisani added 15 carries for 107 yards, including a 36-yard touchdown rumble through the heart of the Roughriders’ defense in the third quarter.
“We should have done way better,” Pisani said. “We didn’t really execute all that well in the beginning. We did have excellent defense, it was good, but we have plenty of work to do.”
Peters opened the scoring for Forks with a 4-yard TD plunge, capitalizing on a Port Angeles fumble at midfield on the Riders’ first offensive play of the game.
But the Spartans offense went out of synch after that, as penalties, incomplete passes and an interception by Port Angeles’ Tyler Bowen that set the Riders up in Forks territory.
A 4th-and-15 pass from Roloson-Hines to Anton Kathol picked up a first down for Port Angeles at the Forks 30-yard line, but the Spartans stiffened and a Cisneros sack pushed the Riders back to midfield.
Forks continued to work on its passing offense in the second quarter, a point of emphasis for the team, and the Spartans struggled through the air as senior quarterback Gabe Reaume completed 6 of 21 passes for 51 yards by halftime.
The Spartans recommitted to the run game in the second half as Pisani got untracked, totaling 71 of his 107 yards after the break, including a 36-yard TD with 5:58 left in the third.
Peters added his second score, another 4-yard run up the middle early in the fourth quarter. Tony Flores capped off the score with a one-handed grab on Reaume’s two-point conversion pass to put Forks up 22-0.
Colby Demorest capped the Spartans’ scoring with a 1-yard run with four minutes to go.
Port Angeles snapped the shutout when Rolson-Hines rumbled to the pylon on a 14-yard rushing touchdown with 1:34 to play.
The score was set up by a pinballing 51-yard catch-and-run by freshman Daniel Cable. Cable took a short dump off from Roloson-Hines and made Forks miss all over the field on a freewheeling run inside the Spartans’ red zone.
“That was amazing,” Mann said of Cable’s big play.
“We have a lot of talent, we just have to put it together. I don’t think we were working effectively as a team. I was happy with our defense, we were out of position which cost us. We weren’t as disciplined as I thought we would be and that cost us a little bit, but overall, pretty happy defensively.
“On offense we have to go back and figure out what we did wrong.”
Cisneros was pleased to play against and beat Port Angeles.
“It feels really good to beat them and finally get the chance to do it,” Cisneros said. “It’s good my senior year we get to play a lot of the guys we played in little league football.”
Forks has another chance to knock off a North Olympic Peninsula rival when it travels to Sequim (1-0) on Friday.
Port Angeles (0-1) hosts Class 3A North Thurston (1-) at Civic Field on Friday.
Forks 28, Port Angeles 8
Port Angeles 0 0 0 8— 8
Forks 8 0 6 14— 28
F—Peters 4 run (Pisani run)
F—Pisani 36 run (run failed)
F—Peters 4 run (Flores pass from Reaume)
F—Demorest 1 run (pass failed)
PA—Roloson-Hines 14 run (Drake run)
Rushing—PA: Kathol 1-15; Shumway 4-11; Deckard 2-9; Cable 2-2; Edward 4-(-(-1); Bowen 1-(-9); Roloson-Hines 10-(-33). F: Pisani 15-107; Peters 18-101; Demorest 7-44; Thompson 3-20; Baker 2-18; Steffan 2-(-1); Flores 1-(-1); Reaume 4-(-15).
Passing—PA: Roloson-Hines 7-12-0,103. F: Reaume 7-24-1, 56; Pisani 1-1-0, 26.
Receiving—PA: Cable 2-48; Edwards 2-28; Kathol 1-15, Flanagan 1-12, Shumway 1-0. F: Moody 6-62; Ness 2-20.
Sports reporter/columnist Michael Carman can be contacted at 360-417-3525 or at [email protected]