Six hundred and eighty.
That’s a number that was on the Blue Jays and Washington Head Coach Derick Heflin’s mind coming into Friday night’s game — the number of days since the Blue Jays had last won a game on the gridiron. That streak came to an end in Week 2 as Washington (1-1) won for the first time since 2016, defeating Pacific (0-2) at home, 35-0.
In a poetic symmetry, the Blue Jays broke a 12-game losing streak against the Indians, who had themselves ended a 12-game losing streak at Pacific against the Blue Jays last season.
The team rushed to embrace Heflin in a massive group hug when the final buzzer sounded before the Blue Jays then went to celebrate with the student cheering section and the rest of the Washington faithful in attendance.
“Right now it was worth every second,” Heflin said of the wait between victories. “Those kids played their tails off. They worked and earned it. Last week, I think we outplayed (Seckman) and we just got in our own way. Tonight, we were bound and determined not to get in our own way and get a W. I joke with parents that I don’t have any kids of my own, but I spend more time with these guys than I do anybody else. They were (telling me) I’d just as well move a cot in the office. We’re here every morning at 6:30 and we don’t go home until 7 p.m. most nights and these kids work, work, work, and they earned it. It was just a lot of frustration and excitement that came to a head. I told them I loved them when it had been 680 days since we won a game and I still love them when it’s zero days.”
Washington used a defensive score on an interception by Brandon Titter and good field position from a fumble recovery off a sack by Ryan Hoerstkamp to build a 22-0 advantage in the first half.
Titter’s 40-yard interception return opened the scoring, followed by a 13-yard touchdown run by Cole Nahlik and a 17-yard scamper across the goal line by backup quarterback Bryce Kazmaier. Hoerstkamp, the Blue Jays big tight end, caught a pair of passes for two-point conversions in the first half — one from quarterback Logan Roewe and the other on a fake field goal from kicker Blaine Straatmann.
The Indians stayed even with Washington in the takeaway battle, but were unable to build any momentum off two fumble recoveries.
“We’re not winning the battles at the line of scrimmage,” Pacific Head Coach Clint Anderson said. “I told the kids at the beginning of the season that we would only go as far as the offensive line takes. If they gel together quickly, because we only had one returning varsity lineman, and if they gel quickly and learn what it takes to play at that level — last year we had one underclassmen and the rest were seniors. They knew what it took and they’d played together for so long, so this year was about how fast will these guys learn what it takes to win and play physical and they’re not doing that yet so we have to look at what we’re doing in practice and see if we can get them there.”
Washington’s defense held firm in the red zone twice in the second half, forcing a turnover on downs and another fumble to end those drives.
“We had a couple of penalties that were what they were, but every time we faced adversity our defense just bowed their neck and it felt like we were playing 12 guys out there the way they were flying around and hitting people,” Heflin said.
The Blue Jays defense has come a long way since the previous season, Anderson agreed.
“They played physical, I tell you what,” Anderson said. “Heflin’s got those boys playing hard and I know they took a loss last week against Seckman, but you could see on tape that they were significantly better from last year. They’re significantly bigger and more physical, so we knew it wasn’t going to be an easy game for us at all. Tip the cap to them. They played hard and got it going and we’ve got to get it going on our end.”
The Indians struggled to move the ball in the running game with lead running back Josh Rash sidelined with a shoulder injury to start the season. That left the Indians to rely on sophomore quarterback Colton Thompson and the team’s wide receivers as the primary ball carriers.
Washington enhanced its lead early in the second half with a pair of long rushing scores, a 58-yard quarterback scramble by Kazmaier and a 53-yard run by Johnny Duncan. Straatmaan was good on one of three point after attempts in the contest.
The Blue Jays ran for a total of 284 yards on the night, led by Duncan’s 126 yards on 15 carries.
“We got into some formations that we felt gave us an advantage and our offensive line did a pretty good job,” Heflin said. “They brought a lot of pressure and we were able to pick it up. We rotated our quarterbacks a little bit. Bryce Kazmaier gives us a little different look than Logan does and he got some nice long runs on some pulls and Johnny Duncan ran the ball hard and broke a couple of big ones too. They had a good game and those guys up front — Brandon Titter, Kaleb Burr, Mitchell Zurick, Andrew Gildehaus, Joe Hackmann and Ethan Soete — nobody talks about them much but those guys have grown a bunch in 365 days and they came out and won that football game.”
Kazmaier posted 80 yards on his three carries. Nahlik added 42 yards on eight carries. Christian Meyer, Jake Straatmann, Roewe, Cory Hardesty and Dylan Pape also got carries out of the backfield.
Roewe went 4-7 in pass completions for 36 yards. Kazmaier threw once for nine yards.
Bryce Meyer made three catches for 27 yards. Jacob Hillermann had one catch for six yards and Duncan one catch for three yards.
Defensively, Colby Ramsey, Matt Hanshew and Hoerstkamp each recorded a sack.
Luke Kroeter led the team in tackles with seven solo and six assists.
Jack Carico and Darren Winistoerfer each made four solo tackles. Carico made seven assists and Winistoerfer five.
Caleb Brinker ended with seven tackles (five solo, two assists).
Other total tackling numbers for Washington included Christian Meyer with seven, Chris Griesenauer and Ramsey with five, Hoerstkamp and Nahlik with four, Joe Hackmann, Titter, Houston Partridge and Seth Ruether with three, Korey Jarrell with two and Pape, Blaine Straatmann, Ben Gaither and Hanshew with one apiece.
Brinker and Hoerstkamp each recovered a fumble.
Roloff, Coby Moeller, Robert Schmidt and Sam Williams each recovered a fumble for the Indians.
Nathan Midkiff and Schmidt both recorded a sack.
Williams led the team in tackles with six and four assists.
Seth Denbow, Andrew Erselius, Midkiff and Schmidt each made four stops.
Trevor HIll and Roloff made three tackles each.
Those with two tackles included Tyler Martin, Makai Parton, Ian Scott, Camron Steffey and Andrew Weston.
Moeller and Liam Sitek made one stop each.
Pacific’s offensive statistics were not available as of print deadline.
This Friday brings the 0-2 Warrenton Warriors to Scanlan Stadium in a nonleague contest between teams from the Gateway Athletic Confererence’s Central and North divisions.
Warrenton is coming off consecutive losses against Wentzville Liberty (2-0) and Troy (2-0) to open the season.
Quarterback Nolan Chmiel has been a dual threat for the Warriors this season with 184 yards and two scores on the ground to go with 145 yards and one score through the air in the first two games.
Sam Toenges is his top receiver with eight catches for 87 yards and a touchdown so far.
Warrenton handled the Blue Jays in a 45-7 shellacking last season. Washington leads the series, 9-3, dating back to 2006, but the Warriors have won three of the last four meetings.
For Pacific, Week 3 brings another physical contest at St. Clair (2-0). The Bulldogs have rolled out to an undefeated start with impressive wins against Park Hills Central (0-2) and Potosi (1-1).
The Bulldogs have ran for more than 300 yards in each of the first two games, continuing the team’s tradition of a strong rushing attack.