BELLEVUE — Playing short-handed at the 11-man level and playing a 1A opponent at the last minute, the Quilcene Rangers still won their season-opener, 18-8 over Bellevue Christian.
The Bellevue Christian game was scheduled because the Rangers’ original game against Crescent was postponed due to a COVID-19 positive among the Crescent coaching staff.
Quilcene, which went undefeated last year in a shortened season, only dressed 14 players.
“I’m proud of the kids. They played a lot of football,” said coach Trey Beathard.
Missing was All-State performer Bishop Budnek, who was out with a non-football injury. The Rangers’ James Miller also sprained an ankle during the game and a couple of players were out because of COVID-19 contact tracing.
Helping to fill in were a pair of eighth-graders, Oliver Hopkins and Jayden Love.
“Oliver played the first football game of his life. And it was a varsity, 11-man football game,” Beathard said.
Beathard said the defense played “outstanding,” but the Rangers also fumbled four times, including twice inside the 5-yard line, keeping the game close.
“There were a lot of first-game mistakes,” Beathard said.
Kevin Alejo scored both the Rangers’ touchdowns, one on defense and one on offense, and Ashton Johnston scored two two-point conversions.
The Rangers got behind 8-0 in the first quarter, but equalized the score in the second. Quarterback Nathan Kieffer hit Isaiah Reimann on a 48-yard pass play down to the 4-yard line. The Rangers fumbled to blow the opportunity, but when Bellevue Christian had the ball, Quilcene’s Alejo read an option play, caused a fumble and recovered it in the end zone for a touchdown.
After Johnston’s two-point conversion, that made the game 8-8 at the half.
In the second half, “our offensive line ran them down a bit,” Beathard said. Alejo scored his second TD on an 8-yard run.
After another Quilcene fumble on the 3-yard line, the Rangers picked up another score when a Bellevue Christian runner slipped and fell in the end zone on a sweep for a safety.
Beathard said his defensive coaches Bryon Wilson and Darren Dotson deserve a lot of credit for how well the defense played. And he also gave credit to Athletic Director Mark Thompson for scheduling the game quickly.
Alejo led the Rangers with 108 yards rushing on 17 carries, while Johnston had 71 yards on 12 carries. Kieffer was 3-for-8 passing and Reimann contributed the 48-yard reception.
On defense, Deakon Budnek had 18 tackles from the linebacker position.
“A lot of those were solos. He was the best player on the field,” Beathard said.
Alejo and Shannon Kutler each had eight tackles while Dominic Smith had two sacks and a hit on the quarterback that led to an interception by Reimann.
Quilcene 18, Bellevue Chr. 8
Quilcene 0 8 0 10 — 18
Bell. Chr. 8 0 0 0 — 8
Q—Alejo fumble recovery in endzone (Johnston PAT)
Q—Alejo 8 run (Johnston PAT)
Rushing—Q: Alejo 17-108, Johnston 12-71, Kutler 2-10, Keiffer 1-1.
Passing—Q: Kieffer 3-8-70
Receiving—Q: Smith 1-15, Johnston 1-7, Reimann 1-48.
Naselle 48, Neah Bay 42, OT
NASELLE — The Neah Bay Red Devils went up against one of the toughest 1B schools in the state on the road Saturday and nearly pulled off a huge upset, falling 48-42 in a wild overtime contest to the Naselle Comets.
“It was a great game to be a part of,” said coach Kane Bachelor. “It hurts to come out on the side that we did.”
The Red Devils were behind 28-14 at halftime, but roared back to take a 42-34 lead late in the fourth quarter. The Comets, who played for the state championship in 2019, scored in the final second and got a two-point conversion to send the game to overtime.
“They’ve beaten us a few times in a row. It hurts to be that close and not pull it out,” Bachelor said. “We came up one second short.”
Bachelor said his young team, with 11 kids playing their first-ever varsity game, may have relaxed a bit when they got the lead late.
“If we can bottle up like we played in the third quarter, we would be a tough team to beat for everyone,” Bachelor said.
Julian Carrick scored two touchdowns for Neah Bay, while Neil Bowechop threw a TD pass to Adan Ellis.
Jodell Wimberly scored twice and Chris Hottowe had a touchdown.