WALLA WALLA – On a day that featured a return to the single wing, spirited hitting, a statue of liberty play and a double reverse, Walla Walla Youth Football crowned its Varsity and Junior Varsity champions here at Drew Bledsoe Field Saturday.
The Cougars put up 19 points in the second period and survived a late Chiefs’ touchdown pass to hang on for a 25-20 win and claim the 2009 varsity championship.
The JV Cougars scored in the first and third periods to down the Huskies 27-0 for the JV championship.
Cougars 25, Chiefs 20
The Chiefs struck first as Nelson Carpenter broke a 30-yard run and J.C. Wicklund ran in the PAT to give the Chiefs a 7-0 lead with 1:37 left in the first period.
The Cougars responded with 19 unanswered second-quarter points and answered a Chiefs fourth-quarter score that cut the lead to 19-13, with a TD of their own to nail down the title.
"We played well all game," Cougars coach Allyn Griffin said. "We knew they had a very powerful unit and a very dynamic player (Carpenter). Our guys played hard and hit hard. It was a great game."
The Cougars marched 55 yards in eight plays to its first score. Brennan Barerich covered 31 of those yards on five carries and his 2-yard plunge put the Cougars on the board.
The Chiefs’ Taylor Prince stuffed Cameron Spencer to nullify the Cougars’ PAT attempt and the Chiefs lead was 7-6 with 7:31 left in the half.
Jeff Randolph picked off an errant Chief pass to put the Cougars back in business. Spencer capped the 37-yard drive with a 4-yard TD run and the Cougars had the lead for good at 13-7.
The Chiefs answered as Carpenter went 46 yards for a TD, only to see the run called back by a Chiefs penalty.
Adam Boggs stopped Carpenter on fourth-and-1 from the Cougar 37, and the Cougars had the ball back.
Spencer went in from the 1 with 1:01 left in the half and the Cougars went to intermission up 19-7.
The third period was scoreless, but the Chiefs lost another touchdown to penalty as Carpenter’s 50-yard run was called back.
Carpenter went in from the 4 to cap a Chiefs fourth-quarter drive and cut the lead to 19-13 with 6:23 to play.
Boggs covered the ensuing onside kickoff, and the Cougars marched behind its single wing offense to the game clincher. Barerich scampered 18 yards to pay dirt and the Cougars led 25-13 with 1:51 left.
"We run that old-time single wing real well," Griffin said. "We worked real hard on it and this is the fruit of the labor."
Carpenter hit Wicklund, who was five yards behind the Cougar defense, for a 50-yard score to cut the Cougar lead to 25-20 with 48 seconds left.
Carpenter had a hand in all three Chief scores, but a Cougar defense led by cornerback Randolph, who contained Carpenter on numerous sweeps, kept the Chief threat from breaking more big plays.
"We couldn’t stop him," Griffin said of his defense keying on Carpenter. "We contained him."
Noah Porter covered the Chiefs’ onside kickoff with 48 seconds left, and the Cougars ran out the clock.
"They beat us handily earlier," Griffin said. "Our guys worked very hard and were successful because of it."
The Chiefs fought through some adversity from lost TDs, but had the tenacity to rally back and get within five with 48 seconds left.
"They played Carpenter very well today," Chiefs coach Cody Thomason said. "They kept hitting him and played him sideline to sideline. Our guys never quit, we just didn’t get it done today.
"I hadn’t seen it (the single wing) in this league before," Thomason said. "Props to coach Griffin. He came back and beat us. Had we had less penalties, we could’ve won this game. My hats off to them. We beat them up early and they came back and figured out a way to beat us."
Cougars 27, Huskies 0
The Cougars got off to a quick start in the 8-to-10-year-old championship. The Cougars scored touchdowns the first two times they touched the ball and never looked back in winning their third straight championship.
"It’s a phenomenal group of kids," Cougars coach Kirk Zehner said. "This team has not lost a game or had a touchdown scored on them, in the regular season, in three years."
Mason Knowles went for 40-yard and a score on the Cougars’ second offensive play.
Following a 21-yard punt by the Huskies’ Jack Weigand on the ensuing Husky possession, it took the Cougars three plays to score. Nick Zehner went in from 11 yards out and the Cougars, after Knowles kicked the PAT, led 14-0 with 2:37 left in the first quarter.
With arguably their best player, Parker Likes, sidelined by the flu, the Huskies turned almost exclusively to Ben Ortiz.
Ortiz had every carry, except two by Austin Olson, for the Huskies, but never broke the big one.
"Our best player, Parker Likes, is out with the flu," Huskies coach Josh Wolcott said. "He’s got to be home getting better, and that’s more important at this age. Obviously, he would’ve given us a different edge to the game, but we came in with a plan and tried to execute it."
After a scoreless second period, the Cougars scored on a 36-yard counter play by Zehner to push the score to 20-0 with 4:46 to play in the third.
The Huskies failed to convert a fourth-and-11 on their ensuing possession.
The Cougars went to their bag of tricks.
Zehner scampered 21 yards on a Statue of Liberty, and Xander Garcia scored on a 24-yard double reverse and Jack Gannon ran in the PAT to run the final to 27-0.
"We opened up our trick bag today," Cougar coach Zehner said. "The kids pulled it off excellently. They work hard. They play with nothing but heart. It’s incredible to see what kids can do when properly motivated."
The Huskies never quit and got to the Cougar 18 twice in the fourth quarter, but couldn’t convert.
"Obviously, they (the Cougars) have some good players," Wolcott said. "We’re just little guys learning how to play football. The whole thing is to come out here, play better, and practice the fundamentals we work on. For the most part, we did that. Our kids played hard against a very tough team that has been together for three years. Our kids are competing and that’s good to see. We are proud of their efforts. It’s about having fun."
Cougars 25, Chiefs 20
Cougars 0 19 0 6 — 25
Chiefs 7 0 0 13 — 20
Chiefs — Carpenter 30 run (Wicklund run).
Cougars — Barerich 2 run (run failed).
Cougars – Spencer 4 run (Barerich run).
Cougars – Spencer 1 run (run failed).
Chiefs – Carpenter 4 run (pass failed).
Cougars – Barerich 18 run (run failed).
Chiefs – Wicklund 50 pass from Carpenter (Carpenter run).
Cougars 27, Huskies 0
Huskies 0 0 0 0 — 0
Cougars 14 0 13 0 — 27
Cougars — Knowles 40 run (kick failed).
Cougars — Zehner 11 run (Knowles kick).
Cougars – Zehner 36 run (kick failed).
Cougars – Garcia 24 run (Gannon run).