The Chewelah Cougars (1-4, 0-2) faced off against the Freeman Scotties (5-0, 2-0) on Friday night in Chewelah in a key Northeast A League football game. The Cougars held their own for most of the first half, but two late touchdowns by league-leading Freeman in the first half opened up the game and the Scotties never looked back, cruising to a 41-12 victory on Senior Night for Chewelah.
For the second straight week, the big play was the nemesis of the Cougar defense--a touchdown pass of 56 yards and two other touchdowns set up by plays of 40-plus yards in the first half.
âThe kids played hard of defense,â said head coach Jim Fisk. âThey rallied well and played good for the first half, but the big play hurt us. Weâll make some adjustments and take care of it.â
Secondary gives up big plays to high-powered Freeman offense
The secondary giving up the long pass is the biggest issue for the inexperienced Cougar defense, but it is being addressed in practice by coach Fisk.
â Iâve got to put kids in a better place to make plays and thatâs a fixable thing for me,â the coach said.
The defense kept Freeman running back Quinn Robinson in check, holding him to 86 yards on 21 carries. âOverall, I think two-thirds of our defense is playing well,â added Fisk. âWe just need to make some improvements in the secondary.â
The offense for Chewelah struggled to put points on the board, but moved the ball well between the 20-yard-lines. The Cougars gained 340 total yards, 170 running and 170 passing. Derek Smith gained a majority of that yardage for Chewelah, while Dylan Long caught both touchdown passes thrown by Smith.
âWe were O.K. on offense...we werenât hitting on all cylinders, but the guysâ effort was good,â Fisk said.
The Cougars' offensive line is still learning from week to week what it takes to play at a high level.
âThe O-line is playing hard, but they need to keep on their feet ...scramble better on their blocks, give those guys a gap (Smith, Calvin Connell and Ben Johnstone) and theyâll make a play for us,â Fisk said of his team's line play.
The other area of concern for coach Fisk is getting Connell more involved in the offense.
âTeams are trying to take Calvin out of the mix and we need to do a better job of not allowing that to happen,â he said.
It was Senior Night at Snyder Field and the seniors and their parents were honored by JHS in a pre-game ceremony. The Cougars took those good feelings into the first quarter. A 21- yard run by Smith on third and 20 keyed a 56-yard touchdown drive, capped by a four- yard touchdown pass from Smith to Long and a 6-0 lead.
The advantage was short-lived as Freeman went on a 2 minute, 63-yard touchdown drive, most of which was covered on a 50- yard run by Scotties' quarterback Cody Unfred. Freeman scored on a Robinson 3 yard run and took a 7-6 lead with four-minutes remaining in the first quarter.
The Cougars and Scotties defenses took over for much of the remainder of the half, holding each other scoreless until four-minutes were left in the second quarter. On second and five from their own 44-yard-line, Freeman hit on their second big play of the half. Justin Barrong got behind the Chewelah defense and Unfred hit him on a 56-yard touchdown pass and a 14-6 Scottie lead.
After a short Cougar punt, Freeman took over at the Chewelah 45 with 1:45 left in the half and immediately hit on their third big play of the half, a 40-yard completion to Derek Harter by Unfred that put the ball on the Cougar five. Robinson capped off the drive with a one-yard run and just like that the Scotties had a 21-6 lead going into halftime.
âA couple of big plays late and you go down two scores--that hurts in a lot of ways,â said coach Fisk.
In the second half, Freeman took advantage of a short field, scoring on drives of 24 and 44 yards to build a 35-6 lead going into the fourth quarter. In the fourth quarter, the Cougars found the end zone again, Long, on a 15-yard touchdown pass by Smith,, finished off a 56- yard touchdown drive by the Cougars to cut the Chewelah deficit to 35-12.
Freeman recovered the onside kick at midfield and once again took advantage of the short field to score their final touchdown of the evening. This time, Kellen Miller caught a 13- yard Unfred TD pass to set the final score of 41-12.
The week the Cougars travel to Priest River, Idaho (0-5) to play the Spartans, and coach Fisk feels that the Cougars will make some noise in the final month of the season.
âWeâre close,â he said. âI am hungry for some wins and I know the boys are too.â
Kickoff is at 7 p.m. at Priest River HS.
Freeman 7 14 14 6--41
Chewelah 6 0 0 6--12
Chw-Long 4 pass from Smith (run failed)
Fre-Robinson 3 run (Harter kick)
Fre-Barrong 56 pass from UnÂŹfred (Harter kick)
Fre-Robinson 1 run (Harter kick)
Fre-Robinson 10 run (Harter kick)
Fre-Robinson 21 pass from Unfred (Harter kick)
Chw-Long 13 pass from Smith (run failed)
Fre-Miller 15 pass from UnÂŹfred (kick failed)