MILTON-FREEWATER - The Tillamook Cheesemakers overwhelmed the Mac-Hi Pioneers Friday night, running the ball 51 times for 303 yards in a 32-13 steam-rolling.
Tillamook's offensive and defensive lines, led by Travis and Trent Harp (each at 6-foot, 5-inches and 255 and 245, respectively) simply outclassed the undersized Pioneers, and as a result Mac-Hi struggled in all aspects of the game.
"That is a very phenomenal line," Mac-Hi coach Chuck Pease said. "They averaged 6-foot-3, tight end-to-tight end, straight across. You don't see that very often - that slowed us down."
Pease said the game was a good measuring stick for the Pioneers.
"It was nice to have the test, to see where we're at. Tillamook is a good team," Pease said. "(Their line is) like a small college line."
It was clearly the first game for both teams, as each had 13 penalties on the night. Tillamook was penalized for 125 yards compared to Mac-Hi's 107.5, the majority of which were simple offsides, false starts and encroachment violations. It was also evident in the way Mac-Hi - and to a lesser extent Tillamook - executed.
"Our mistakes that we made at crucial time periods dropped our momentum," Pease said. "We've got to get over those mental mistakes."
The mistakes began for Mac-Hi on the first play from scrimmage. Senior running back Jacob Morris took the first snap and burst up field for a seven-yard gain, but as he was tackled the ball hit the ground faster than he did. The Cheesemakers recovered the fumble and, two plays later, Tillamook running back David Almaguer took a 40-yard jaunt into the end zone for the first of five rushing touchdowns.
The Pioneers took the kickoff and immediately Morris fumbled again. But this time, the refs came to the rescue as Tillamook was called for encroachment prior to the snap.
The Pioneers took the second life and marched down the field, with Mac-Hi senior quarterback Francisco Saldana showing his dual-threat capabilities in Pease's spread-option offense. Saldana completed one pass to tight end Derek Richwine for 10 yards and rushed for 24 yards on two carries, and the Pioneers were threatening to score.
That was when Saldana tried to force a pass into thick coverage and was picked off by Almaguer. Almaguer took the ball all the way to the Pioneers' 20 before Richwine managed to catch up to him and make a shoe-laces tackle to stop the play. The play was called back thanks to a block in the back from Tillamook, and the Cheesemakers took over on their own 35. They later punted the ball away.
After back-to-back interceptions from Saldana and Tillamook's Brandon Pyatt less than two minutes into the second quarter, neither Pease nor Tillamook coach Matt Dickson seemed to trust the ball in the air. The game quickly devolved into a match up of old-school, I-formation, power offense from Tillamook and a shotgun spread-option from Mac-Hi.
Penalties and mistakes continued to be a problem for both squads, and despite facing a physical offensive and defensive line, Mac-Hi didn't allow another touchdown until midway through the second quarter when Tillamook's size advantage really began to wear the Pioneers out.
After the defense managed to hold for Mac-Hi on a crucial fourth down, Saldana again threw a pick, giving the Cheesemakers the ball on the 11-yard line. Unsurprisingly, Almaguer made the Pioneers pay with his second touchdown.
A three-and-out and poor punt from Mac-Hi set the Cheesemakers up with another short field, this time of 20 yards. Jacob Wassmer punched it in for Tillamook from six yards out to put the Cheesemakers up 19-0.
Part of the problem may have been the 3-4 (three down linemen and four linebackers) scheme the Pioneers ran on defense, as by the time the linebackers even made it up to the line to try and plug holes and stop the run, Tillamook's offensive line had often already pushed the Pioneer front back three to four yards.
The Pioneers did not quit, and did manage to score two touchdowns on the night, but they never really threatened to make it a close game.
"I saw them finishing still and not quitting," Pease said. "That, for a bunch of years, is something that wasn't there. I saw them still working hard, making mistakes, but doing it fast - just incorrectly.
"They learned something about themselves," Pease said. "They learned that it's just not going to be that easy. We can go around saying it to ourselves, but now we have to go out a prove it to everybody."
Tillamook 32, Mac-Hi 13
Tillamook 7 19 6 6 - 32
Mac-Hi 0 7 0 6 - 13
THS - Almaguer 40 run (Mendez kick).
THS - Almaguer 11 run (Mendez kick).
THS - Wassmer 6 run(conversion failed).
MHS - Saldana 29 run(Saldana kick).
THS - Almaguer 8 run (conversion failed).
THS - Lourenzo 3 run (conversion failed).
MHS - Richwine 14 pass from Copenhaver (conversion failed).
First downs 16 6
Rushes/yards 51-303 31-123
Passing yards 22 34
Passes (att-comp-int) 5-12-1 3-9-3
Punts 4-53 4-96
Fumbles-lost 1-1 5-4
Penalties-yards 13-125 13-107.5
RUSHING - Till: Almaguer 11-113, Wassmer 14-76. Berge 9-33; Mac-Hi: Saldana 6-60, Morris 7-30, Dombrosky 9-44.
PASSING - Till: Pyatt 5-11-22; Mac-Hi: Saldana 2-7-20, Copenhaver 1-2-14.
RECEIVING - Till: Cooley 2-11, Lourenzo 2-6; Mac-Hi: Richwine 3-34.