If Elma’s three-pronged rushing attack of Conan Baxter, Jarred Bailey and Brody Rustemeyer needed a nickname, Hoquiam head coach Jeremy McMillan gave them one Friday night.
After watching Elma’s running backs gouge his defense for a combined 272 yards and five touchdowns in a 32-8 loss at Olympic Stadium, McMillan offered what he thought of the trio: “They’ve got a three-headed monster over there.”
Elma (3-1 overall) wasted little time in feeding the monster, driving 69 yards on a 12-play drive that was capped by a Rustemeyer 2-yard touchdown run to open the game.
After a Hoquiam drive stalled out on the Elma 39, the Eagles chugged down the field and scored on another Rustemeyer short run — this time from a yard out — to put Elma up 14-0 early at the 11:39 mark of the second quarter.
Meanwhile, Hoquiam’s second offensive possession resulted in similar fashion to its first, driving into Elma territory before turning the ball over on downs.
Elma once again responded with a clock-eating, churning drive that ended when quarterback René Duran hit Bailey with a 17-yard touchdown pass in the end zone to give the Eagles a 20-0 lead with just six seconds left before halftime.
Hoquiam (1-3) got back into the game on its first possession of the third quarter. The Grizzlies drove 82 yards on 11 plays — including two key fourth-down conversion scrambles by elusive quarterback Dane McMillan — and scored using a bit of deception when McMillan swung a lateral pass to eligible lineman Junior Ensminger, who then hit sophomore wide receiver Abraham Morales downfield for a 22-yard touchdown pass that cut the Elma lead to 20-6 and energized the Hoquiam sideline and Senior Night crowd.
“We just kind of challenged the boys in how they wanted to play in the second half, and they answered,” Coach McMillan said. “I really like how we responded in the third quarter. If we had a couple of stops here and there, it would have changed the game.”
After the two teams traded punts, Elma put together another time-killing drive — 10 plays for 52 yards — that saw tight end Noah Huttula make an acrobatic leaping catch of 22 yards that set up a Baxter 1-yard run early in the fourth quarter. The score put Elma up 26-6 and all but dashed any hopes Hoquiam had of a second-half comeback.
Rustemeyer would score on another short Elma TD run to make it a 32-6 game with 5:33 left before a late Hoquiam safety would complete the scoring at 32-8.
“It was a well-called game by our offensive coordinator Casey Doyle,” Elma head coach Ron Clark said of his team’s ability to run the football on Friday.
While it appeared the Elma coaching staff had possibly discovered a weakness in the right side of the Hoquiam defense, as they constantly attacked that side of the field, Clark offered the reasoning behind the strategy.
“It was the good grass,” he said. “We ran to where there was good grass on the field.”
Recent rains and Olympic Stadium seeing its fair share of use in the days leading up to the game left the playing surface in less than ideal conditions, meaning soggy and muddy, which suits Elma’s run-focused offense more so than the spread out passing attack Hoquiam likes to incorporate into its game plan.
“Elma played well on defense and they executed well. We couldn’t get any guys open,” McMillan said.
The Eagle defense, led by linebackers Bailey and Huttula and cornerback Tucker Simpkins, kept Hoquiam from getting into a consistent rhythm in the running game and blanketed Hoquiam receivers, relegating Dane McMillan to having to make difficult throws or scramble for yardage.
Elma’s “three-headed monster,” however, seemed right at home playing in the mud. Baxter finished with a game-high 159 yards, a touchdown and an impressively dirty jersey. Rustemeyer had 59 yards and three touchdowns while Bailey finished with 54 yards and a receiving touchdown.
“They’re just tough as nails,” Clark said of the trio. “The key here this week we were going to respond to (last week’s loss against Montesano) and we were going to block. … We challenged the line to block, block, block.”
Ocosta 14, North Beach 6
Ocosta quarterback Isaac O’Hagan scored twice to lead the Wildcats to a 14-6 victory over North Beach on Friday in Ocean Shores.
O’Hagan scored in the first half on touchdown runs of 2 and 3 yards to give Ocosta (1-3) its first win of the season.
The Wildcats led 14-0 at halftime.
North Beach quarterback Westin Fruh scored on a 55-yard touchdown run in the third quarter to make it a 14-6 game.
Ocosta’s defense had four sacks and benefited from an interception and fumble recovery by Andrew Martin.
North Beach falls to 1-2 overall with the loss.
Rainier 32, Pe Ell-Willapa Valley 7
Big plays hurt the Pe Ell-Willapa Valley Vikings in a 32-7 loss to Rainier on Friday in Pe Ell.
Rainier quarterback Mike Green passed for 234 yards and four touchdowns. Three of his four TD throws were for 40 yards or more, including an 80-yard TD pass to receiver Sean Mahaffey to open the scoring in the first quarter.
PWV (0-3) broke the shutout when Derek Fluke scored on a 3-yard run with 6:17 left in the game. Garrett Keeton kicked the extra point to make it a 32-7 ballgame.
“They big-played us to death,” PWV assistant coach John Peterson said, noting Rainier only had four first downs in the game. “It was unbelievable.”
Though PWV lost two more players to injury, bringing its sidelined total to eight, Peterson said he saw some positives from the team on Friday.
“We showed some real improvement,” he said. “I thought we ran the ball really well and we were able to run our base set of plays.”
PWV finished with 46 carries and 144 yards as a team on the ground, led by Wil Clements, who had 14 carries for 55 yards.
Fluke added 44 rushes and a touchdown on 10 carries while freshman running back Blake Howard had 43 yards on 13 carries.
Tumwater 1, Aberdeen 0
Aberdeen gave Tumwater its biggest scare of the season, holding the undefeated Thunderbirds to one goal in a 1-0 loss on Friday at Stewart Field in Aberdeen.
Tumwater (7-0 overall, 2A Evergreen) entered Friday’s game outscoring its opponents 26-1 and had won each game by no less than two goals.
That changed on Friday as Aberdeen’s defense limited Tumwater scoring threats, allowing Bobcat goal keeper Char Gutierrez little trouble as the bulk of Tumwater’s 17 shots came from distance.
Aberdeen caught a bad break in the 18th minute when a ball sent toward the Aberdeen goal box ricocheted off two players in the area and snuck inside the far post for the game’s only goal.
Aberdeen had three quality chances on offense, but couldn’t capitalize. A solid shot by senior midfielder Emma Green missed the mark and two second-half opportunities by forward Brooklynn Lecomte and Madi Gore failed to find the back of the net.
Despite the loss, Aberdeen head coach Larry Fleming said Friday’s result showed how much better his team has become compared to its 4-1 loss to Tumwater on Feb. 16.
“The girls showed the improvement they have made since their last meeting with Tumwater,” he said. “Strong defense and being aggressive will keep you in most games and give you a chance, even against a really good team.”
Fleming noted Gutierrez, Green, Logan Glanz, Aili Scott, Gore and Jaylynn Phimmasone for their solid play.
With the loss, Aberdeen sits in third place in the 2A Evergreen League with a 4-4 league record (5-4 overall).
There will be a 2A League/District 4 postseason tournament involving the top five teams from both the Evergreen and Greater St. Helen’s leagues.
The tournament is scheduled to run March 13-20.