I told Sequim coach Erik Wiker and Port Angeles coach Dustin Clark that the Friday night Rainshadow Rumble was the best high school football game I had covered in years.
And it was the truth. It truly was.
The only game I could think that even comes close to Sequim’s electrifying 36-32 victory was a state 1B semifinal game in freezing rain and wind in Everett between Lummi and Neah Bay. That was a thrilling game in horrendous conditions that came down to an overthrown pass from Lummi just missing a wide-open receiver. I actually covered that game from a storage room with windows looking out to the field because that was the only room available out of the wind and rain.
I’d never covered a game with such wild swings of momentum. The Roughriders looked like for sure they were going to run away with the game after taking a 20-0 lead. Parker Nickerson threw one of the best deep balls I’ve ever seen, hurling it 50 yards to complete a pass perfectly in stride to Jason Hawes, who was covered but had a step on his defender.
That was followed by a spectacular catch by Sequim’s Isaiah Moore, who just kept tipping the ball to himself as he was going down/being tackled in the end zone. Somehow, he came up with it.
Wiker told me afterward he knew Sequim could come back. Honestly, after that Moore catch, I sensed it, too, even though Port Angeles still held a 13-point lead. Sequim had controlled the ball and the clock all game long. Ultimately that was the difference as the Port Angeles defense simply couldn’t get the Wolves off the field. The Riders got a massive dose of Aiden Gockerell all game, and he seemed to rip off 7- and 8-yard runs at will all night long.
After Nickerson got hurt, I thought the Riders’ might collapse without their experienced quarterback, but actually they rallied themselves — not once, but twice — with Kason Albaugh doing much of their dirty work inside and sophomore quarterback Brandt Perry making a pair of nice passes to Blake Sohlberg.
I finished my story by saying the team that had the ball last won, and I believe that. Port Angeles ran out of clock at the end. I was going to feel sorry for whichever team lost. It was a game neither team deserved to lose. Both teams had lots to be proud of.
It was the kind of game as a sportswriter you kind of hope you get to write every time you walk into a press box or a gym. Let’s face it, on the high school level, most games aren’t all that close. Most games are hard-fought with critical plays here and there, but they rarely come down to the final seconds or the final play. This isn’t the NFL where the salary cap keeps everything equal.
It was the kind of game in which I sat down at the keyboard after making myself a cup of coffee and said to myself, “Wow … where do I start?”
You never want to see kids hurt, especially major injuries. It was a heartbreak for the Quilcene Rangers, who dropped their game 44-38 to Entiat. I said to coach Trey Beathard, “Sounds like it was a pretty good game…” Then I felt pretty stupid afterward when I was told it really wasn’t, and quarterback Jayden Love was lost to a broken leg.
That’s part of the risk of sports, especially a contact sport like football. It’s part of the game, but one I wish there was a way to do without. These kids aren’t still collecting a fat paycheck while they’re on the IR rehabbing. They’re playing for the love of the sport. You hope Love is OK for next year; you hope Nickerson is OK.
Sports Editor Pierre LaBossiere can be contacted at email@example.com.