SEQUIM — It may not have been a team goal for the week, but Sequim junior Walker Ward entered the Rainshadow Rumble looking to prove a point by not allowing any on the scoreboard against the rival Port Angeles Roughriders.
Ward and his Wolves pitched the shutout Friday night at Civic Field, blanking Port Angeles 26-0 to claim the rivalry trophy and bragging rights for the fifth straight season.
— Michael Carman (@MikeCarmanPDN) October 19, 2019
“I know for me, [shutting them out] definitely was a goal,” Ward said. “I know last year we had one or two shutouts and PA wasn’t one of them. We let them come down and score on the opening drive [in 2018] and I thought about that all year.”
Sequim flipped that script this time out, taking the opening kick and moving down to the Riders’ goal line on a 45-yard corner route from Taig Wiker to Michael Young. Young dragged a few Rider defenders along for the ride down toward the end zone for good measure — a scene Sequim repeated a couple of more times as the Wolves out-worked their rivals on a number of plays.
“Yes, both offensively and defensively,” Wolves coach Erik Wiker agreed. “If you look at them on a 1-on-1 [basis] across the way I don’t think we out-athlete them all the way as bad as the score of the game actually indicated. I think our guys play really well together, they execute well together. They play as a unit and all do their jobs.
“Effort and coachability with these kids is real high and they try real hard because they want to be good. There’s a lot of average kids out there — a few good kids and a lot of average kids like every other team in the league,” Wiker said.
A play later, Taig Wiker’s second and third effort got him across the line for the score and an eventual 8-0 lead.
Port Angeles’ defense stiffened and forced two punts by the Wolves, but a Riders’ player touched the second punt as it was slowly rolling to a stop, making it a live ball which Sequim recovered at midfield.
The Riders faithful along with head coach Troy Mann didn’t agree with the fumble call.
“Our guy got pushed into it and backed into it,” Mann said.
Mann wouldn’t say that was a turning point in the contest.
“That didn’t help, but that didn’t prevent anybody from being out of position on passes for touchdowns. I’m not going to say one thing caused us to lose, there were several events that occurred that put us at a disadvantage, even before the game started. I would have liked to have had all my starters available for the game.”
The Wolves then used a sweet jet sweep motion pass from Young back to Wiker for 28 yards to setup another score — a 10-yard run through the middle of the Port Angeles defense for a 14-0 lead.
Offensively, the Riders couldn’t muster much of a charge all night. They lost quarterback Brady Nickerson, who came into the game with a bum ankle, early on and went with Nolan Hughes the rest of the way.
“Overall, I thought the boys played really well,” Mann said. “We were short-handed, our QB went down early and didn’t fully recover from his sprained ankle
“In the first half we kind of stumbled but we went and regrouped in the second and played pretty well, especially defensively.”
Sequim added to its lead early in the second quarter when Wiker found Garrett Hoesel in the end zone for a 19-yard TD strike.
A blocked punt on the next Port Angeles possession set Sequim up at the Port Angeles 4-yard line and Ward waltzed in for a 26-0 Wolves lead with 7:11 left before halftime.
Ward finished the night with 21 carries for 128 yards on the ground.
Neither team scored for the remaining 31:49 of the contest — though Sequim did have two chances inside the Port Angeles 5-yard line — with the Riders’ defense forcing a 4-and-out and a fumble to earn back some pride.
“It was a weird, frustratingly done half,” Erik Wiker said of the second half which featured two turnovers by each team.
Mann highlighted some strong performances from his squad.
“I really liked Keizer Shamp’s debut as a Roughrider football player [at offensive and defensive tackle],” Mann said.
Shamp, a senior, joined the team after its first game of the season.
”I thought [Derek] Bowechop played really well and [Daniel] Cable fought hard.”
Ward came away impressed with his team’s defense.
“I feel good, we got the win and our defense keeps continuing to prove itself and keep teams out of the end zone and keep us in it,” he said.
“Brando [Brandon Barnett] did a great job chasing people down and showing his athleticism as a big D-End, as a lineman.
“Isaiah [Cowan] every week, he proves himself more and more. He can fill amazingly well, he can cover great, he does it all for us.”
Coach Wiker agreed.
“Isaiah is one of the best linebackers in the league, period,” Wiker said. “I thought it would be [Lane] Mote, and Mote is really super good, but Isaiah has outplayed him in every game.”
Ward is looking for more as the Wolves look toward the postseason.
“We just have a couple of little tweaks and we are capable of so much more,” he said. “O-line calling out blocks— there are plays where they miss one guy and if they get him then we can break a huge one. Small, little tweaks — communication things.”
Sequim (4-1, 6-1) remains a game ahead of Olympic (3-1, 5-2) and Bremerton (3-1, 5-2) for the Olympic League’s second district playoff berth. The Wolves host a solid Hoquiam squad (1-1, 4-2) Friday.
The Riders (0-4, 0-7) visit league-leading North Kitsap (4-0, 5-2) on Friday.
Sequim 26, Port Angeles 0
Sequim 14 12 0 0— 26
Port Angeles 0 0 0 0— 0
S—Wiker 2 run (Wiker pass to Hoesel)
S—Wiker 10 run (pass failed)
S—Hoesel 19 pass from Wiker (pass failed)
S—Ward 4 run (kick blocked)
Rushing—S: Ward 21-128; Wiker 10-16, Young 2-(-1). PA: Cable 18-30; Bowen 3-15, Hughes 8-12, Nickerson 3-(-8).
Passing—S: Wiker 7-12-91, TD; Young 1-1-28. PA: Hughes 6-15-62, 2INT.