Cougars move closer to title
BY CHRIS RADER
S-E Sports Reporter
First place in the Northeast A League football race was on the line when the Freeman Scotties (5-2, 3-1) traveled to Snyder Field to take on the Chewelah Cougars (6-1, 4-0) last Friday night. The Cougars’ opportunistic defense intercepted five passes and recovered a fumble to put a stranglehold on the high scoring Freeman offense, blanking the Scotties 21-0.
The Cougars were prepared for a hard-hitting game from beginning to end.
“I knew yards were going to be hard to come by,” said head coach Jim Fisk. “They play good defense and don’t make many mistakes.”
Chewelah was held to a season low 187 yards of total offense, with quarterback Derek Smith accounting for 45 yards rushing and one touchdown and 87 yards passing and a score.
Stick to basics
Coach Fisk had his team prepared for what promised to be a close game with a basic, fundamental philosophy.
“We needed to stay sound on offense, play good defense and not make mistakes on special teams,” Fisk said. You do that and you can win these kinds of ballgames.”
Once the Cougars had built their 21-0 first half lead, the hosts got conservative, throwing the ball sparingly and using as much clock as possible. That was by design.
“We did play it conservatively,” said Fisk. “I didn’t want to throw a pick and give them any momentum. With the defense playing so well, once we hit the fourth quarter, it was burn the clock and get out of there time.”
The Chewelah defense was outstanding against Freeman. The Scotties picked up 182 yards in offense. The Cougars intercepted Scotties’ quarterback Wyatt Smith five times and recovered one fumble.
“We had to play better defense than we did the week before (a win over Medical Lake) if we were going to win,” said Fisk.
Pick Six by Wiebe
Smith and Caleb Wiebe both had two picks apiece and Wiebe returned one of those for a touchdown in the first quarter.
“Wiebe reacted to the ball well and timed the Pick Six just right,”Fisk said.
The win gets Chewelah close to capturing the NEA championship.
While the two remaining league games on Chewelah’s league schedule are against Newport (2-4, 1-3) and Riverside (1-6, 1-3), the Cougars are trying to avoid a letdown and be ready for a pair of tough games.
“We have to be ready for our opponent’s best shot,” said Fisk. “We’ve gotta play up and take care of business…the most important game is the one coming up. We can’t be caught looking ahead or back.”
The Cougars travel to Newport this Friday. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.
Chewelah received the opening kickoff and started on a deliberate drive downfield from their own 38-yard-line. It took nine plays and four-minutes to cover the distance. Quarterback Smith finished the drive with a five-yard run. The extra point was good and the Cougars led 7-0.
Chewelah’s defense came up big on Freeman’s first possession of the game.
On Freeman’s second play from scrimmage, Wiebe stepped in front of a Wyatt Smith pass and returned the interception 45 yards for another touchdown. The two-point run was no good, and the Cougars led 13-0 with 6:58 remaining in the first quarter.
After both teams exchanged punts, the Scotties set up their offense at their own 45-yard-line, but on their second play of that possession, Freeman fumbled the handoff and Chewelah recovered the ball on the Freeman 47 at the end of the first quarter.
In the second quarter, the Cougars tried to take advantage of the turnover, but ran into a fourth and 9 at the 34-yard-line. As usual, on fourth down, Chewelah went for it and converted a first down on a 29-yard Smith to Wiebe completion that gave Chewelah a first and goal at the seven-yard line.
Smith to Crowell for TD
Chewelah capped of the drive with a seven-yard Smith pass to Dustin Crowell for the score. The two-point run by Smith was good and the Cougars led 21-0 with eight-minutes remaining in the half.
The defenses stepped up big time at that point and the game turned into a defensive slugfest. The Cougars only managed one trip into the Red Zone the rest of the game and were stopped on downs.
Freeman never got closer than the Chewelah 25-yard-line and turned the ball over another four times before the evening was over.
Chewelah 21, Freeman 0
FHS 0 0 0 0—0
Chew. 14 7 0 0—21