SEQUIM — The day that Sequim football players had waited and wanted for months finally arrived Saturday, and the Wolves were ready.
Sequim forced seven turnovers, including a 40-yard interception return for a touchdown by senior Isaiah Cowan, blocked a field goal and rolled up 401 rushing yards in a 38-0 shutout win over Class 3A Bainbridge.
Wolves coach Erik Wiker said his senior-laden squad’s experience won out.
“When it all comes down to it, more than most teams, we have the same team back,” Wiker said. “With no offseason, COVID, being a year and a half [from their last game] this and that, even though they forget everything, they are still more comfortable together and teamwork [is] everything.”
A steady diet of senior running back Walker Ward was an effective weapon for the Wolves as Ward followed his blockers 31 times for 197 yards and two scores.
“The O-line and the D-line winning in the trenches all day and making it easy for everybody to run the ball,” Ward said. “And I think the D-line won the game by working their butts off.”
Wiker thought his big offensive line would have an advantage in the running game.
“I knew we were going to go heavy on [the run],” Wiker said. “I thought our more experienced offensive line was going to be more experienced than them. I thought their skill kids were going to outskill us, so we wanted to play them where we were good at. And basically with [senior quarterback/linebacker] Taig [Wiker] not playing, Walker getting the direct snaps are the kind of runs we put in for him. So we weren’t limited on runs.”
Taig Wiker violated a team rule and wasn’t able to play in the game but will be back for the Wolves showdown at North Kitsap next Saturday at 1 p.m.
Sequim blocked a Spartans field goal on their first possession and pressured Bainbridge into five interceptions, with Ward claiming the first pickoff and putting the Wolves on the board first with nine consecutive carries for 56 yards capped by a 1-yard TD run on the ensuing possession.
“Conditioning, keeping it on all through practice and doing what we are supposed to keep this season going,” Ward said when asked how he kept his breath despite the heavy workload. “Following what they tell us to do so we can keep having those games and keep building those lungs and getting used to it. You have to do what you have to do to keep the season going.”
Cowan added to the Sequim lead quickly, stepping in front of a Spartans’ pass and motoring 40 yards for the score for a 12-0 lead.
“I just made the right read and I was kind of surprised,” Cowan said. “It’s been a little bit of a lifelong dream of mine to get a pick-6. So getting that was super cool.”
Bainbridge again threatened near Sequim’s goal line after a 56-yard catch-and-run, but sophomore defensive back Isaiah Moore stepped in front of a slant pattern for the end zone interception.
A 34-yard reception by Michael Young keyed the Wolves’ next scoring drive, a 4-yard run by Ward and the rout was on.
Cowan added a two-yard TD run and later blitzed, sacked and stripped the Bainbridge QB late in the contest to preserve the shutout.
The senior, not known as a showboater, didn’t know the ball had been knocked out and drew a penalty for celebrating as his teammates pounced on the loose ball.
“The [strip sack] was kind of surprising. I told the coaches I had a gap on a blitz. I thought I felt the ball in his hands, still. But we still recovered it,” Cowan said.
Sequim also scored on two jet sweeps, a 40-yard run by Michael Young and a 76-yard slalom through the Spartans’ defense by Garrett Hoesel.
“Finally,” Wolves coach Erik Wiker said of finding success on the play, which is meant as a tempo boost and to keep teams covering the sides of the field.
“I do them to keep them honest. That was really nice, especially when they have good skill kids who are fast out there. That was the best our jets have looked. We had good blocking on it, too.”
Wiker also had praise for Young and Hoesel’s play at safety. The duo added some textbook tackles in pass coverage.
Ward summed up the return of Sequim football.
“It’s different, but just to have all our guys out here on the field is amazing and a blessing considering all the crazy stuff going on,” Ward said.
Sequim 38, Bainbridge 0
Bainbridge 0 0 0 0 — 0
Sequim 0 20 12 6 — 38
S—Ward 1 run (pass failed)
S—Cowan 40 interception return (conversion failed)
S—Ward 4 run (Ward run)
S—Cowan 2 run (run failed)
S—Young 40 run (run failed)
S—Hoesel 76 run (pass failed)
Rushing—S: Ward 31-197, Hoesel 2-103, Young 4-66, Haggen 4-24, Cowan 2-8, Brown 1-5, Applegate 3-(-2). B: Bryant 2-14, Miller 4-7, Mielke 3-3, Todd 5-0.
Passing—S: Applegate 4-8-57, INT. B: Todd 16-33-235, 4 INT, Utter 1-2-3, INT.
Receiving—S: Young 1-34, Hoesel 1-20, Ward 2-3. B: Coupland 4-118, Mielke 6-78, Breen 3-22, Ulin 3-17.
Sports reporter/columnist Michael Carman can be contacted at [email protected]