ARLINGTON — Sequim’s inflatable Wolf mascot deflating while the team gathered for its end of season wrap-up talk was more than a little symbolic in the wake of the Wolves’ 38-12 Class 2A State Football Tournament loss to the Lakewood Cougars.
Injuries put a pin in Sequim’s state hopes well before kickoff Friday night, forcing the Wolves to slow down and play keep-away offensively in an effort to keep pace with a lightning-fast Lakewood offensive attack.
A Sequim squad that was already down one of its best playmakers in All-Olympic League wide receiver/defensive back Michael Young was forced to play without quarterback/safety and recently announced Olympic League Offensive MVP Taig Wiker.
The effort was there for the Wolves and Sequim did enough to keep itself in it for much of the first half, but ultimately were beaten by a bigger, faster, deeper and better, Cougars squad.
“After a little while, we could just mainly do powers and counters and runs inside, and [the defense] is packing the box,” Wolves head coach Erik Wiker said.
“It definitely handicapped us quite a bit on what we could call. I think [backup quarterback Kobe Applegate] did a great job. I think he ran [the offense] pretty dang well, made a couple mistakes just like anybody else starting and playing out there and stuff like that. So, happy on the job [the team] did, but I mean it takes half of our play calls away, easy.”
After giving up a 70-yard run by dual-threat quarterback Jared Taylor to set up the Cougars’ first TD less than 1:45 into the game the Wolves answered back … slowly.
Applegate waited for the referee’s five-second play clock signal before nearly every snap in an effort to keep Sequim’s offense on the field.
And it worked at the outset as Sequim put together a massively impressive 18-play, 73-yard drive over 8:24 of the first quarter, scoring on an 8-yard touchdown pass from Applegate to a wide-open Isaiah Moore to pull within 7-6.
“If we’re gonna go toe-to-toe with a heavyweight, we wanna go one round. We don’t want to go three rounds,” Erik Wiker said. “We wanna go one round and maybe we get a lucky shot, they don’t get as many shots in. It was definitely deliberate. … If you’re gonna box Mike Tyson, do it for a minute-and-a-half. Don’t do it for 10 minutes.”
But in a game where you’re the decided underdog, the margin for error is thin. The Wolves never punted in the game, but failed to convert on four fourth downs in the contest.
Down 14-6 and facing fourth and 4 from Lakewood’s 34-yard line, Sequim (9-2) elected to go for it on its second drive. The Wolves were looking to force an offsides by the Cougars — and did — but not after calling a timeout as the play clock neared zero. The flag was waived off and Ward was stuffed on a run up the middle out of the timeout.
That set up another quick Lakewood score and put Sequim in a 21-6 hole with 4:03 left in the first half.
“If we don’t screw up on the freeze play, we might not score, but maybe they don’t score,” Wiker said. “Those tiny things add up to quite a bit when you can exploit them.”
The Cougars added another TD before halftime and the competitive portion of the contest was effectively over.
“We were missing Taig and Michael as much on defense,” Wiker said. “Edge protect on the run slash [pass] coverage, everything. You are missing, Taig’s the MVP of offense but he’s that kind of player on defense in our league. And Michael missed three or four games but he was all-league at wide receiver and defensive back.”
Sequim did get a solid push up front offensively against the Cougars allowing running back Walker Ward to pick up 168 yards on 34 carries and a late rushing TD.
Wiker was proud of his kids for picking up nine wins and a state berth as the team’s small roster was forced to deal with injuries all season.
“A great season,” Wiker said. “You can see the size difference in the team numbers, we don’t have a lot and when we go down [players], it’s freshmen in. We only had one quarter with our starters in all year.
“With having Michael out for four games, and Taig out for two-and-three-quarters, considering we are here and came in with one loss and only lost by eight … the takeaway is the kids did really, really well and achieved our potential with what we had.”
And the Wolves should return a senior-laden squad in 2020, so another state trip is a strong possibility.
Lakewood 38, Sequim 12
Sequim 6 0 0 6— 12
Lakewood 14 14 7 3— 38
L—Chrisman 8 pass from Taylor (Sepulveda kick)
S—Applegate 8 pass from Moore (kick missed)
L—Taylor 1 run (kick good)
L—Chrisman 16 pass from Taylor (kick good)
L—Chrisman 14 pass from Taylor (kick good)
L—Pruitt 34 run (kick good)
L—Sepulveda 20 field goal
S—Ward 2 run (kick blocked)
Rushing—S: Ward 34-168; Hoesel 3-6, Applegate 4-4; L: Taylor 7-110, Pruitt 8-101, Toppence 2-28, LeGore 2-9, Dotson 3-24, Chrisman 1-10.
Passing—S: Applegate 7-15-64, TD, INT. L: Ja. Taylor 9-13-106, 3 TDs; Ju. Taylor 3-5-40.