Hoquiam still searching for a win after falling to Centralia

Grizzlies now 0-4 after 29-14 home loss to Tigers

Back in 2018, the Hoquiam Grizzlies finished as one of the top four teams in the state after a run to the 1A semifinals.

Now, during arguably the most difficult season in recent history for the program, the Grizzlies would be happy just to get a win.

Hoquiam, a team further depleted by the latest round of roster issues earlier in the week, remained winless on the season with a 29-14 loss to the Centralia Tigers on Friday at Olympic Stadium.

Hoquiam (0-4 overall) took an early lead on a long drive in the first quarter that culminated with a Jalen Hobucket touchdown plunge on a direct snap from a yard out to take a 6-0 lead at the 3:18 mark.

Centralia (1-6) tied the game on its subsequent drive, scoring on a 7-yard, play-action pass from quarterback Landon Jenkins to receiver Anthony Saucedo with just a few minutes elapsed in the second quarter.

Tied 6-6 at halftime, Centralia running back Chase Sobolesky burst through the middle of the Hoquiam defense for a 39-yard touchdown run that put the Tigers up 14-6 with 7:39 to go in the third quarter after the subsequent two-point try.

On the next possession, the Grizzlies drove down into Centralia territory, but on a second-and-3 play from the Tigers’ 34 yard line, the snap went through the hands of Hoquiam quarterback Zander Jump and bounced right into the hands of a blitzing Sobolesky, who was off to the races and scored on a 67-yard fumble return, giving the Tigers a 22-6 lead with 4:14 left in the quarter.

But Hoquiam responded by charging right back downfield on the ensuing possession and scored when receiver Gio Foster took a double-reverse from running back Anthony Burtenshaw, and then scored on a 15-yard run on the final play of the third quarter.

Jump’s pass to Owen McNeill for the two-point conversion cut the deficit to 22-16 and got Hoquiam right back in the game.

But Hoquiam’s momentum was once again short-lived, as Sobolesky scored on a 25-yard run at 10:29 of the fourth quarter to put Centralia up for good at 29-14.

“The kids showed grit. They never gave up and it was a two-possession game up until the end,” Hoquiam head coach Jeremy McMillan said. “You just can’t have penalties and you can’t turn the ball over. But we did so many really good things tonight.”

Hoquiam rushed for 151 yards, most of that coming from Burtenshaw, who carried the ball 24 times for 103 yards.

Jump went 11-for-19 passing for 110 yards with receiver Owen McNeill catching seven passes for 96 yards.

Jake Templar caught one pass for 11 yards for Hoquiam.

Centralia outgained the Grizzlies 291-261 with the Tigers rushing for 262 yards, as Hoquiam had trouble stopping runs through the interior of the defense.

Sobolesky rushed for 111 yards on 13 carries.

RYAN SPARKS | THE DAILY WORLD Hoquiam quarterback Zander Jump passes during a game against the Centralia Tigers on Friday in Hoquiam.

RYAN SPARKS | THE DAILY WORLD Hoquiam quarterback Zander Jump passes during a game against the Centralia Tigers on Friday in Hoquiam.

The game caps off a demanding week for what has been a demanding season for McMillan.

“I can’t say enough about my staff and the kids because of what’s been put in front of us, it’s unreal. It really is,” he said. “You want to talk about adversity? We made that an acronym we are going to use forever.”

Hoquiam entered the season with an already reduced roster as in year’s past, as many teams have after the shortened 2020 COVID season.

Compounding problems for the Grizzlies was a peculiar decision by the Hoquiam School District to suspend all school-related sports activities for several weeks earlier this fall, which translated to one-third of Hoquiam’s football season wiped off the schedule.

On Monday Oct. 11, things went from bad to worse for the Grizzlies as news came down that team co-captain running back/linebacker Nakota Brown was injured and unable to play, and senior lineman Siosi Villarreal was out for the season with an injury.

To make matters worse, McMillan was notified in an email that freshman hopeful Chris Hauss, all 6-foot-4, 245-pounds of him, had transferred to Yelm High School.

“There is just so much madness to everything, but like I said, we are grateful to get back to work,” McMillan stated. “These are good kids and you can coach forever as long as you have good kids.”

McMillan remains focused on finding solutions to the adversity and said understands what is needed to building up his young squad in hopes of getting the program back to prominence.

“Bottom line is it’s experience. It comes down to that,” he said. “But these kids are getting over their fear and getting a little more confident. That was just the killer with losing a third of our season, especially at that point because we had two really good nonleague opponents we were going to play and Elma is always a really good league game.

“We’re going to get better and we’ll be back.”

Centralia 0 6 16 7 — 29

Hoquiam 6 0 7 0 — 13