NEA champion Chewelah opens playoffs against Okanogan
NEA champion Chewelah
The Jenkins High (Chewelah) Cougars pose with their Northeast A League championship trophy. The Cougars will open the post-season with a Crossover play-in game Friday at Snyder Field against Okanogan. Game time is 7 p.m. Photo courtesy of Heather Norman.
Cougars will host Crossover
The Northeast A League champion Chewelah Cougars (8-1, 6-0) finished an undefeated league season with a 55-7 trouncing of the Riverside Rams (1-8, 1-5) last Friday night at Snyder Field.
The Cougars jumped out to a big early lead and head coach Jim Fisk said that was the blueprint going in to this game.
â€śWe went in and took care of business,â€ť Fisk said. â€śIt was nice to put them away early, get out of there with no injuries and be able to get ready for next week.â€ť
Riverside stacked the box with seven defenders in an effort to stop quarterback Derek Smithâ€™s running game, so Coach Fisk opened up the passing game.
â€śIf teams want to put six or seven guys in the box, weâ€™re talented enough to throw the ball,â€ť Fisk said.
Smith showed off that talent, going 13 for 19 for 258 yards and three touchdowns. The talented senior also rushed for another score. Cordell Bean hauled in six of those passes for 126 yards and a TD, while Dustin Crowell added a 48- yard receiving touchdown and a five-yard scoring run.
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The Cougarsâ€™ defense once again dominated, this time holding the Rams to 156 yards total offense. Most of those yards came in a 75-yard touchdown drive late in the first half.
Dustin Olson is a major force on the Chewelah defense and he tends to disrupt offenses everywhere on the field.
â€śDustin (5-11, 240-pound junior) is a beast,â€ť Fisk conceded. â€śPeople have a hard time containing him and he makes tackles from sideline to sideline.â€ť
The secondary is a major benefactor of the chaos caused by Olson. Chewelah has a school record 20 interceptions to date this fall.
â€śThe secondary has played well and will continue to play well,â€ť Fisk pointed out.
The game this week is the Caribou Trail League/NEA crossover game against the Okanogan Bulldogs (5-4, 4-3). This is a play-in game to the WIAA state playoffs and the winner will be the district 6/7 no. 1 seed.
Game time Friday night at Snyder Field is 7 p.m.
Okanogan finished fourth in the CTL, but they have a young squad and havenâ€™t beaten a team with a winning record this season. However, coach Fisk and his staff certainly arenâ€™t looking past Okanogan because the stakes are higher now and even the youngest players have a full season under their belts.
Itâ€™s loser out at this point in the season. Thatâ€™s motivation enough for teams that have gotten this far.
â€ťItâ€™s a different season and different atmosphere and weâ€™ve got to get prepared,â€ť Fisk said. â€śOkanagan will come to play; they have some young kids, but by this time of year, those young kids arenâ€™t young anymore.â€ť
Coach Fisk had a chance to look at film of the Bulldogs and he has a good idea how they will attack his defense.
â€śThey remind me a little of Deer Park offensively,â€ť Fisk said. â€śThey like to pound the ball if they can, but we plan to try and take the run away from them.â€ť
On offense, the Cougars wonâ€™t be changing anything at this juncture. Like they have all season long in the NEA, the Cats expect to cause the Bulldogs problems.
â€śWe always want to run the ball if itâ€™s there, but weâ€™ll definitely spread them out and see what we can do,â€ť Fisk promised.
The game against Riverside was a one-sided affair, although it started with a little offense from the Rams. A good opening kick return set Riverside up at the 45 yard line and the Rams quickly moved downfield to the Cougarsâ€™ 15. But the defense stiffened and forced the Rams to turn the ball over on downs, sacking Riverside QB Sam Zanoni at the 24-yard line.
From there, the game quickly fell into Chewelahâ€™s control. Five unanswered touchdowns gave Chewelah a 35-0 lead with about one minute left in the first half.
Riverside mounted their only scoring drive at that point. Jacob Collins broke off a 30-yard run and with a 15-yard facemask penalty tacked on to the end of the run, the Rams were suddenly at the Chewelah 25 with 30 seconds left in the half.
An end around to Adam Hutton gave RHS first and goal inside the Chewelah one-yard-line and Collins managed to punch the ball into the end zone as time expired in the half. The extra point was good and the Chewelah lead was cut to 35-7.
Chewelah opened the second half with another touchdown drive, capped off by another three-yard Ben Johnstone touchdown run. the Ty Curtis kick was good and the Cougars led 42-7.
Chewelah would tack on two more touchdowns in the 55-7 win.