Finishing strong was the goal for Washington in its football opener last Friday at St. Clair.
The Blue Jays (1-0) did exactly that, overcoming a 15-0 halftime deficit with 24 unanswered points in the second half for a 24-15 victory over the Bulldogs (0-1).
“Our kids fought hard. It’s a confidence boost for us. You can’t win a game unless you’re there in the fourth quarter,” said Washington Head Coach Zach Schneider. “Our goal is to fight tooth and nail, do whatever it takes, to give us a chance to win. That’s what we did and I couldn’t be more proud of our team.”
With warm temperatures, overall depth may have played a role in the game as the Blue Jays seemed to wear the Bulldogs down in the second half.
“We did some good things in the first half. We didn’t come out in the second half ready to play,” said St. Clair Head Coach Cody McDowell. “There’s a lot of things we need to fix. We have a lot of kids who are still learning and growing up.”
It was a big game for Washington senior running back Kyle Summers, who carried the ball 23 times for 214 yards and scored three touchdowns.
“It felt good coming back, getting the lead and winning the game, especially after losing to them last year. They had a lot of two-way starters and I think we just wore them down,” Summers said. “The first half was a little rough running the ball. In the second half, the linemen opened up more running lanes.”
Washington accumulated 440 total yards, 257 rushing and 183 passing.
In addition to Summers’ 214 yards on the ground, quarterback Christian Hardesty carried the ball seven times for 21 yards. Caleb Curran rushed for 16 yards on seven attempts and had two catches for 24 yards.
Hardesty was 6-9 passing for 70 yards. Fellow quarterback Isaac Lippert was 4-8 passing for 118 yards with one touchdown.
“I don’t like the two-quarterback system, not one bit. But I don’t think either of them have earned the right to be the starter yet,” Schneider said. “I’m not disappointed in them because they both did some good things. They’re going to keep battling it out. It’s pretty much neck-and-neck.”
Seth Bollmann finished with six receptions for 151 yards and one touchdown. Austin Finder had one catch for seven yards.
“Seth is going to leave some people behind with his speed. We just have to make sure that we keep feeding him the ball and feed Caleb Curran the ball. We have to spread out those touches so teams can’t just focus on Kyle,” Schneider said. “Seth had a couple of big catches in the second half and they had to defend the whole field. They couldn’t just worry about Kyle going up the middle. That’s when he started breaking his runs.”
DJ Quaethem led Washington’s defense with 12 solo tackles and one assist.
Austin Pieper added eight solo stops. Austin Subke totaled six solos and one assist. Alex Schull had four solos and four assists.
Nathan Kopp recovered a pair of fumbles. Jay Jacquin and Michael Wadlow also recovered a fumble.
“Our defense was phenomenal in the second half,” Schneider said. “We fixed some things. Coach (Matt) Kroeter had some choice words with those kids in the first half about doing their job. They did their job in the second half. I was so proud of those guys.”
St. Clair accumulated 328 total yards, 204 rushing and 124 passing.
Quarterback Collin Scott carried the ball 14 times for 139 yards and one touchdown. He was 11-25 passing for 124 yards with one touchdown.
Skyler Hutchison rushed for 52 yards on 11 attempts.
Ian McQueen had one reception, which went for a nine-yard touchdown.
Evander Spinks had two catches for 25 yards and also rushed for eight yards.
Kevin Cox added three receptions for 34 yards. Alex Miller (27 yards) and Adam Hinson (22 yards) both had two catches. Colbie Viessman had one catch for seven yards.
Defensively, Ryan Alsop had one interception to go with two solo tackles and four assists. Jake Oermann recovered a fumble. McQueen had an interception.
Tommy Ghirardi and Harley Love both had two solos and three assists. Spinks added one solo and five assists.
“We were up and down, just a little too inconsistent. We’ll evaluate it on film,” McDowell said. “Collin did some good things and some bad things. That was the same for everyone we had on the field. Everybody made mistakes and everybody made plays. Everybody was just too inconsistent.”
The two teams combined for seven turnovers, four by St. Clair and three by Washington.
Week Two Preview
Washington and St. Clair both have home games Friday at 7 p.m.
The Blue Jays host Timberland (1-0) while the Bulldogs entertain De Soto (0-1).
Timberland won its opener over Parkway West, 27-0.
‘They’re double tight, big and will come right at us. They’re well-coached and play in a tough conference. We’ll have our hands full,” Schneider said. “We’ll be stacked up against some size and strength. We’ll have to do our jobs on a consistent level to have a chance for a win.”
It will be a big night at Washington, as it opens its new turf field. A ribbon-cutting ceremony will take place before the game.
“It’s going to be exciting to play on our new field,” Summers said. “Hopefully we can do the same thing against Timberland. I think we have a team that can do some great things.”
At halftime, the 1973 Washington state championship team will be honored for its 40-year anniversary.
“We have a lot of alumni coming in and we want to make them proud. We’re really looking forward to the 1973 team coming back,” Schneider said. “For our guys to meet them and hear what some of them have to say, that’s going to be an honor for us.”
De Soto (0-1) lost its opener at Pacific, 28-21.
“We have a lot to improve. We have to get back to playing our style of football,” McDowell said. “Washington is one of the better teams we’ll see. We’ll learn from it and go on. We’re fortunate to have another home game. Hopefully we’ll have a good week of preparation and build on this.”
St. Clair got on the scoreboard first with 8:58 left in the first quarter on a nine-yard touchdown pass from Scott to McQueen on a fourth-and-six play.
The Bulldogs struck again with 20 seconds remaining in the first quarter on a 47-yard touchdown run by Scott.
St. Clair led 15-0 at halftime.
Washington began its comeback when Summers raced for a 58-yard touchdown run 17 seconds into the third quarter to make the score 15-6.
The Blue Jays struck again with 4:12 left in the third quarter on a 57-yard touchdown pass from Lippert to Seth Bollmann to make the score 15-12.
After St. Clair turned the ball over for the second time in the quarter, Washington took the lead on a 42-yard touchdown run by Summers to make the score 18-15.
The Blue Jays put the game away with 9:09 left in the fourth quarter on a 45-yard touchdown run by Summers to increase the advantage to 24-15.
“The kids fought really hard. We weren’t very fundamentally sound in the first half. They did a great job taking it from us,” Schneider said. “We knew at halftime if we could get our kids to do their job, we’d have a lot more success. I did not expect 24 points. I wanted a score on our first drive and then see what we can do with it.”
St. Clair 15-0-0-0-15
S-Ian McQueen 9 pass from Collin Scott (Harley Love pass from Colbie Viessman), 8:58
S-Scott 47 run (Skyler Hutchison kick), :20
W-Kyle Summers 58 run (run failed), 11:43
W-Seth Bollmann 57 pass from Isaac Lippert (kick failed), 4:12
W-Summers 42 run (kick failed), 2:05
W-Summers 45 run (kick failed), 9:09