Sports

South Whidbey football shellacks Chelan in season opener

Falcon quarterback Nick French finds a hole in the line during a recent practice. South Whidbey put French’s arm on display when the junior threw two touchdowns in a 28-15 drubbing of Chelan on the road Friday.  - Ben Watanabe / Record file
Falcon quarterback Nick French finds a hole in the line during a recent practice. South Whidbey put French’s arm on display when the junior threw two touchdowns in a 28-15 drubbing of Chelan on the road Friday.
— image credit: Ben Watanabe / Record file

Chelan had a big first quarter against South Whidbey in its football season opener.

The Goats scored 15 points on two touchdowns and a safety and were poised to prove they were a rightful 1A title contender.

Then South Whidbey showed its qualities, and they were many. The Falcons scored on their first drive and added three more trips to the end zone in the third quarter for a 28-15 road victory.

“Kids played well,” said Falcon co-head coach Mark Hodson.

South Whidbey traveled by charter bus to Chelan on Friday morning. The trip was planned to be an overnight experience that helped the team bond, Hodson said, and allowed parents and other community members to extend their summer vacations with the Labor Day weekend.

“We had a great trip.”

The 170-mile trip was fruitful for the win column, too. The past few years, South Whidbey opened its football season against a smaller school like Concrete or Friday Harbor before rolling into its eight-team Cascade Conference competition. This year, the 1A Falcons faced the Chelan Goats, who finished in third place in the 2011 1A football state tournament.

Chelan controlled the game early. The Goats scored on their first possession. South Whidbey answered with its own first-possession scoring drive that resulted in a touchdown catch by junior receiver Kale Reichersamer from junior quarterback Nick French.

“I thought Nick was throwing a really nice ball,” Hodson said.

The Goats proved true to their mascot’s nature and held their ground. South Whidbey’s kicking team flubbed the ensuing kickoff that gave Chelan great field position, Hodson said, and resulted in another touchdown, though without an extra point conversion.

On South Whidbey’s next possession, Chelan forced a safety for a 15-7 lead. Part of the problem, Hodson said, was a reformed offensive line that is tasked with more pass protection this season. When coupled with Chelan’s blitz-heavy defense, South Whidbey needed a little time to steel itself.

“We were able to get everybody on the same page,” Hodson said.

Those were the last points the Goats would gain. South Whidbey’s swarming defense stifled Chelan and allowed the Falcons to take to the air.

Both teams held pat in the second quarter as they headed into the locker rooms at halftime.

By the end of halftime, South Whidbey had figured out its assignments and schemes, and Chelan was caught for a loss.

The Falcons came out gunning in the third quarter. After allowing two trips to its end zone, South Whidbey’s defense went to work. Falcon junior Nick Bennett recovered a fumble and ran it back for a touchdown.

“We made some good adjustments in the second half,” Hodson said.

“I like how the defense bounced back in the second half.”

After keeping Chelan in check, South Whidbey’s retooled, quick offense took over. The Falcons marched down field and French connected with Reichersamer again for his second receiving touchdown on the night, which was followed with a two-point conversion by Reichersamer.

“I thought that our pass game worked really well,” Hodson said.

With the Goats looking for the Falcons to throw, South Whidbey leaned on its senior running backs Pat Monell and Aaron Curfman. The one-two punch of strength and speed helped South Whidbey extend its time of possession and keep Chelan’s offense off the field and led to a rushing score for Curfman.

The Wenatchee World reported Chelan head coach Darren Talley said his defensive line tired as the game wore on because the Goats were short on substitutes.

“I really liked how in the second half we were able to be physical in the run game,” Hodson said.

South Whidbey’s rush offense continued to eat minutes away in the fourth quarter, in which neither team scored. At the end of the game, the Falcons were positioned to try for another score on the Goats’ 5-yard line with less than a minute remaining, but chose to take a knee and let time expire.

 

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