In the surprise of the Northeast 1B eight-man football season to date, upstart Northport High (2-1, 1-0) blasted visiting Columbia-Inchelium 41-16 last Friday night in front of a big home crowd.
This Northeast 1B North match-up was all Northport.
The Mustangs scored the gameâ€™s first four touchdowns and led 27-0 before Columbia-Inchelium was able to get on the board.
Tailback David Higgins rushed for 144 tough yards on 18 carries for NHS. He scored on runs of four, 25 and 15 yards and kicked three points after touchdown.
Most Northport faithful figured this one would be a whole lot closer.
â€śI was really surprised,â€ť conceded Northport head coach, Don Fox. â€śI thought we kind of overachieved and Columbia was kind of flat. I was really pleased with the kids.â€ť
Fox said his second-year football team turned in its best-ever week of practice leading up to the game.
â€śWe had the best practices weâ€™ve ever had,â€ť Fox said of the weekâ€™s work leading up to the game. â€śBut that can go the other way too.â€ť
For Columbia-Inchelium head coach Chuck Wyborney, itâ€™s back to the drawing board for kids and staff.
â€śWe just arenâ€™t getting it done,â€ť Wyborney said on Monday. â€śBut congratulations to Northport. They do some good stuff and theyâ€™ve got the right combinations to make them toughâ€¦they are what we want to beâ€”excited, playing hard and having fun. Thatâ€™s what itâ€™s all about.â€ť
Wyborney said in the wake of one of the teamâ€™s most disappointing losses in recent memory, the Timberwolves (1-2, 0-1) are heading back to the drawing board and basics.
â€śWeâ€™ve got a whole new structure this week,â€ť Wyborney said. â€śWeâ€™re going back to a whole new teaching mode with the kids. Itâ€™s back to ground zeroâ€”tackling, blockingâ€¦we need to get better there and we need to get to the point where we are doing our correct assignments.
â€śItâ€™s time to refocus on getting better.â€ť
Northport dominates in the trenches
Columbia-Inchelium simply couldnâ€™t make any stops. Dominated on both sides of the ball up front, the Timberwolves stopped only one first half Northport drive.
â€śWe just couldnâ€™t stop them,â€ť Wyborney said, adding that his offense was only able to convert once in five tries in that opening half. â€śThey did to us what we like to doâ€”line up and use ball control. Bang it up the middle and move the chains.â€ť
Northport rushed for 244 yards and quarterback Jeremiah Johnson passed for another 162 yards (10 of 17) and one touchdown (first quarter 11 yard pass to Josh Konkler).
While the rugged Higgins was leading the ground attack, Josh Short was adding 63 more yards on 12 carries. Johnson added 25 yards rushing and a three-yard touchdown run.
For Fox, there were a couple of big keys to the win. For one, his rapidly improving offensive and defensive lines were in control. And the Timberwolves mishandled Higginsâ€™ opening kickoff.
Higgins boomed the kickoff into the end zone and the C-I return man didnâ€™t cover the ball initially and tried to run the ball out of the endzone. Columbia-Inchelium took over on its own half-yard line.
It didnâ€™t get much better for the visitors all evening long.
â€śThat pretty much set the tone,â€ť Fox said.
â€śAnd we had some kids play their butts off inside. We really dominated up front.â€ť
Big, 6-3, 245-pound Tyler Brunette was busy all night long.
â€śWe ran a lot of plays to his side,â€ť Fox said of his junior, who is â€śstarting to play to his potential.â€ť
â€śThere were a lot of guysâ€”Mitch Plourd (center), Jared Brodahl (five tackles and an interception), Frederik Verhaeghe, Matt Marbleâ€¦our guys up front are a strength of this team now. Itâ€™s vastly improved from last year.â€ť
The win was the first-ever in league play for a Northport team that, unlike 2010, is a challenge for anybody.
â€śThat was a real team effort,â€ť Fox said. We have some good football players. The kids are still students of the game and we still make our share of mistakes. But there is a lot of excitement, both with the kids and the community.
â€śWe have some kids who are really dedicated to having a good season.â€ť
The original schedule had Northport facing a bye week. But the Mustangs will travel to Plummer, Idaho (3-1) on Friday. Game time is 7 p.m.
One week later, the Mustangs will host Curlew (0-2, 0-1).
â€śWe donâ€™t know much about Plummer,â€ť Fox said. â€śWe know more about Curlew. That will be a big game for us. They kicked us last season over there.â€ť
While Northport travels to Plummer, Columbia-Inchelium has the unenviable task of trying to slow down the potent offense of Almira/Coulee-Hartline. Game time at Inchelium on Friday is 3 p.m.
â€śThey have five studs left off last seasonsâ€™ team,â€ť Wyborney said of the high-powered Warriors. â€śThey have an incredibly quick quarterback and a good running-back. They score a lot of points, but it looks like they have trouble stopping people.
â€śWe have to get better on offense and score some points this week.â€ť
Wellpinit (3-0, 1-0) blasted Curlew 66-20 behind Kyle McCreaâ€™s four first half touchdowns. McCrea had two rushing touchdowns, an interception return and a receiving touchdown.
Greg Wynecoop threw for two touchdowns and the Redskins led 52-20 at halftime against the overmatched Cougars.
Cusick (2-1, 1-0) beat Selkirk 56-14 behind Ryan Sampleâ€™s four touchdown runs. Derrick Bluff and Eli Peterson added two rushing touchdowns for the Panthers.
Trevor Grant and Avery Miller ran for touchdowns for Selkirk (1-2, 0-1).
Cusick led 44-6 at halftime in the battle of Pend Oreille County teams.
Wilbur-Creston (2-1) beat up Republic, 60-28, behind Davey Ogelâ€™s three touchdown passes and one rushing touchdown.
Derek Smith scored five times for W-C, which led 28-0 after one quarter.
Almira/Coulee-Hartline outscored Garfield-Palouse 48-24 last Friday at home.
Derek Isaak scored the first three touchdownsâ€”two rushing and another on a punt return.
The Warriors (3-0) led 36-0 at halftime.
Colâ€”Inch. 0 8 0 8â€”16
Northport 14 13 0 14â€”41
NHâ€”Konkler 11 pass from Johnson (run failed)
NHâ€”Johnson 3 run (J. Short run)
NHâ€”Visser-Rios 3 run (Higgins kick)
NHâ€”Higgins 4 run (kick failed)
CIâ€”Hill 12 yd. run (Cohen run)
NHâ€”Higgins 25 run (Higgins kick)
CIâ€”Cohen 8 run (Gleave run)
NHâ€”Higgins 15 run (Higgins kick)