By Michael Carman
Peninsula Daily News
FORKS — It wasn’t the prettiest of victories, but it was productive as Sequim utilized a potent rushing attack in a 27-13 win over hard-hitting Forks on a drizzle-soaked Friday night at Spartan Stadium.
Walker Ward did much of the heavy lifting for the Wolves, carrying the ball 30 times for 172 yards. Ward consistently found running lanes thanks to some solid blocking by Sequim against the Spartans’ smaller defensive line.
“The line did real well, that’s where we had a little bit of a mismatch,” Wolves coach Erik Wiker said.
Wiker said he challenged Ward to run harder through the holes in the second half.
“I thought he wasn’t running to his full potential in the first half. There’s running through holes and running and waiting to get hit. It was only a few plays.
“He answered, basically, like a man would,” Wiker said.
Ward had more than 100 of his rushing yards after halftime, including a 28-yard burst on the first play from scrimmage in the second half.
Ward did the polite thing after the game and credited his offensive line.
“My O-line blocking really hard, clearing big holes and adapting to the blitzes and just giving me the best look they could to let me power forward for every yard,” Ward said of what worked in the ground game.
Wolves’ quarterback Taig Wiker scored three first-half rushing touchdowns as Sequim rolled to a 21-0 halftime lead. He finished with 16 carries for 64 yards on the ground and was 12 of 25 for 131 yards and a passing TD.
All told the Wolves racked up nearly 250 rushing yards in the game.
And defensively, Sequim shut down Forks’ rushing attack, limiting the Spartans to just 24 yards on 25 carries. That forced Forks to rely on it’s aerial attack and the Wolves made plays defensively, limiting the Spartans to 135 yards through the air and picking off three Carter Windle passes.
That was the good for Sequim. There were some rough patches.
Wiker thought Forks showed more energy than his team.
“They played with more emotion and they enjoyed it more,” Wiker said.
Ward left the field believing his team is capable of more.
“Even though the scoreboard says a win I think we can play so much better than we have shown,” Ward said. “A lot more discipline, staying focused in on us, because I’ve seen it, we can play better than this. So focus in on us and not focus on the stuff around us. Bounce back from adversity, flags, everything.”
Sequim’s penalty-plagued third quarter saw two touchdowns come off the board for the Wolves’ Garrett Hoesel.
Wiker found Hoesel for a 70-yard catch-and-run that was waived off due to a holding call and Hoesel’s 92-yard kickoff return after a Forks touchdown pass from Windle to Antonio Farias cut the lead to 21-6 was called back due to a block in the back.
Hoesel stuck with it and scored the Wolves’ final touchdown on a 24-yard TD reception from Wiker.
Sequim (2-0) also lost wide receiver/defensive back/kick returner/kickoff specialist Michael Young when he was ejected from the game in the third quarter.
An ejection means an automatic one-game suspension for Young, so the Wolves will be without one of their top playmakers in every aspect of the game for Friday’s showdown with North Kitsap in Poulsbo at 7 p.m. Friday.
“It will be some more adversity that our team will have to overcome,” Wiker said. “He’s one of our better players, for sure. He had been playing really well.”
The Forks perspective
Despite the 21-0 halftime deficit, the Spartans stayed in the game in the second half.
“I’m very proud of their ability to fight,” head coach Trevor Highfield said. “Only a few players need to know what the score is. Their attitude and effort shouldn’t be impacted by the scoreboard. I’m proud that this is showing through with our kids.”
Forks was led by Farias, who caught both of Windle’s touchdown passes from 32 and 14 yards out and finished with 3 receptions for 51 yards.
“His commitment to the team throughout this week really showed through in the game,” Highfield said. “I’m proud of the work he is putting in on a daily basis. He definitely showed up on Friday night.”
Hayden Queen added four grabs for 43 yards. He took a hard shot across the middle later in the contest and stayed down on the turf for a moment, but Highfield said he was uninjured.
Logan Olson had four catches for 31 yards.
Windle was 11 of 26 for 135 yards, the two TD passes and three interceptions for the Spartans (1-1).
“There were some challenges [for Windle] for sure, some growth that we will be working on this week in terms of reads and things,” Highfield said. “I’m excited in the direction he’s going and we will continue to grow and expand the offense. And continue to accentuate his strengths within the offense.”
The Spartans visit Port Townsend (1-0) next Friday with a 6:30 p.m. kickoff at Memorial Field.
Sequim 27, Forks 13
Sequim 7 14 0 6— 27
Forks 0 0 6 7— 13
S—Wiker 4 run (Hoesel kick)
Wiker 3 run (kick failed)
Wiker 13 run (Young pass from Wiker)
F—Farias 32 pass from Windle (kick failed)
S—Hoesel 24 pass from Wiker (run failed)
F—Farias 32 pass from Windle (Ethan kick)
Rushing—S: Ward 30-172; Wiker 16-61, Young 3-8, Fitzgerald 1-(-3). F: Barragan 13-35, Baker 1-10, Kilmer 6-(-1), Windle 5-(-20).
Passing—S: Wiker 12-25-134, TD; F: Windle 11-26-135, 2 TD, 3 INT.
Receiving—S: Young 3-68; Hoesel 3-32, Moore 2-12, Ward 2-7, Nestor 1-7, Eaton 1-7. F: Farias 3-51, Queen 4-43, Olson 4-31.
Sports reporter/columnist Michael Carman can be contacted at 360-417-3525 or at [email protected]