The line of scrimmage was the scene of this battle between Aberdeen and Chehalis on Friday night. The Bearcats claimed it as their own.
Out-muscling, but not outfighting, the Bobcats off the line, the Bearcats rumbled for 401 yards rushing to take full control of this Evergreen 2A Conference opener, 49-12, at Stewart Field on Homecoming Friday night.
Austin Emery got his work in for ninth-ranked Chehalis (1-0, 5-0), taking the ball 17 times for 263 yards and two touchdowns.
“You have to go out and control the trenches out there,” AHS head coach Kevin Ridout said. “They controlled that all night and that was the end-all. They were able to control us and move us around in there. Hats off to them. They did a great job there against us.”
Aberdeen showed a lot of heart and fire against Chehalis, but the Bearcats smothered any chance of a Bobcat Homecoming showcase in the first half.
Emery went untouched on his second run of the game — also Chehalis’ second play from scrimmage — for a 49-yard touchdown run for a quick 7-0 lead. Aberdeen responded on its first possession of the contest.
After a 20-yard kickoff return from Kylan Touch, the Bobcats got five solid connections from quarterback Ben Dublanko to Touch and Braden Castleberry-Taylor. The running game was smothered by the Bearcats, so Dublanko used his arm to get the hosts’ first touchdown on the board.
Nearly stalled at the Chehalis 31-yard line on fourth down, Aberdeen called timeout. After the quick break, Dublanko hit Castleberry-Taylor on a quick 6-yard outhook. The senior receiver then pitched to Touch running down the sideline for the hook-and-ladder trick play for a 25-yard series to the Bearcats’ 6-yard line.
One play later, Dublanko hit Castleberry-Taylor in the deep right corner of the end zone on a fade pass for a touchdown. The extra point kick was wide of its mark at 7-6.
From there, Chehalis scored on its next two possessions, using Emery and fullback Kolby Steen to rumble down the field. Bearcat quarterback Nole Wollan hit one of his few passes of the contest, a 20-yard fade to 6-foot-7 wide receiver Brandon White for a touchdown.
On the next Chehalis drive, Steen capped a 10-play, 83-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown plunge at 21-6 early in the second quarter. From there, the Bearcats were running. Steen added a 5-yard touchdown run late in the first half for a 28-6 halftime score.
Aberdeen got the ball to start the second half, but Chehalis was the beneficiary of a low punt snap back to Castleberry-Taylor, who tried a running rugby style punt. The kick was blocked and scooped up by Zach Sloan for a touchdown at 35-6.
Avery finished his night with just two second-half runs — a 20-yard off-tackle run and a 60-yard off-tackle right sprint for a touchdown at 42-6 with 8:33 left in the third quarter. Chehalis emptied its bench after Avery’s touchdown run.
Chehalis brought the mercy rule running clock into play with 8:57 remaining in the contest after Damien Lopez’s 15-yard touchdown run at 49-6. Aberdeen scored its final touchdown on its last drive, keyed by a 47-yard naked bootleg run by Dublanko. Senior Marquise Flynn ran in from 3 yards out for the touchdown with 4:14 left.
“I’m really proud of our guys,” Ridout said. “We were short tonight — no Skyler Murray, no Michael Ray, no Nick Newcomb — with three big linemen out for us. These guys stepped up tonight. Chehalis came out firing. They are big up front, but our guys didn’t quit and worked hard against them. I have no complaints with our guys.”