Even hard core fans of Toutle Lake had to be impressed of the play of the Napavine Tiger Football team as they came to Toutle and denied the Ducks an outright Central 2B League Championship be defeating them 27-10.
The teams were almost mirror images of each other. Big, strong and athletic. Both came to run the ball. The big difference on this night was slightly less then perfect play by the Ducks. On the 4th play of the game, the Ducks coughed up the ball on their own 23 yard line. The Tigers wasted no time to capitalize when Micah Brown uncorked a 23 yard TD run on the next play.
With 6:22 left in the 4th Quarter, Napavine’s Matthew Waltenberg intercepted a Toutle Lake pass and returned it 72 yards for the final score of the game.
“It was a great job by my linebackers, they put pressure on the quarterback“ recalled Waltenberg. “He just happened to pitch it right to me looking for his guy“.
Most impressive was the way the Tiger defense stood up and held the Toutle Lake offense down. Vaunted Running back Jeff Campbell was held to just 62 yards on 16 attempts while speedy Tim Kelly had just 39 yards on 12 attempts.
Toutle Lake’s first solid drive occurred early in the 2nd quarter with 79 yard scoring surge. In reality, the Ducks drove as far as the 3, but four consecutive attempts inside the five was turned back by the Tiger defense. Toutle Lake’s Cody South kicked the field goal, but Napavine Senior Zack Christenson was proud of his team’s accomplishment.
“Its my Senior year and we are playing for a league championship“ Christenson said of the game. “We just came out fired up as all get out. You put in the work and you can do it“.
It is not that the Duck defense was bad, but they certainly had to guess who might be carrying the ball with all the Tiger weapons. An unusually quick TD drive occurred early in the 2nd quarter when Connor Craft got loose for a 75 yard score putting Napavine up 14-0.
That is not to say the Tigers are not capable of passing when they need to. A 40 yard drive was culminated by an 11 yard touchdown pass from Marty Cozart to Justin Smith.
It certainly could have been worse for Toutle Lake. Just before halftime, the Tigers were pouding on the end zone door as they turned 45 seconds into an eternity. Toutle Lake stood their ground and caught Waltenberg for a loss, sacked Cozart on the next play and then the Duck’s Sage Chapman intercepted a 15 yard pass that was intended for Wade hamre.
“We played a good team tonight“ explained Napavine Head Coach Josh Fey. “These guys have been working awfully hard. It was a total team effort. I wasn’t sure it was going to be like this, but I though that we would be on the positive side of the scoreboard. The kids executed the game plan to perfection“.
Matthew Waltenberg led the Tigers with 79 yards rushing on just 4 carries while Craft had 68 yards followed by Brown with 57. The Tigers amassed 264 yards total offense.
Waltenberg was nearly surprised by the “leading rusher” status, but took it in stride. “They are always there making the hole for me. I owe it all to the linemen. Without them, there wouldn’t be anything“ he said..
The Napavine win secures a share of the Central 2B league title with their 7-1 league record. Adna defeated Napavine, Napavine took out Toutle Lake and the Ducks beat Adna on their home field. The Ducks and Adna still have league games next week. If there is still a tie after next Friday, the seeds for the state tournament will be determined by the flip of a coin.
When Napavine Coach Josh Fey is reminded of that loss to Adna earlier in the year, he marks it as a turning point in the season. “The guys decided that they wanted to get after it a little bit. They didn’t like that feeling (losing) at all. They really got after it and I am really proud of them“ said Fey..