SPOKANE — When Touchet and Wilbur-Creston square off here late Saturday afternoon in a Washington Class B1 state quarterfinal football game at West Valley High, it will be a battle between two offensive juggernauts.
So it only figures that the team that comes up with the biggest plays on defense is more likely to advance to the state semifinals.
“They score more points in a quarter sometimes than other teams score in a game,” Touchet coach Gary Dorman said of Saturday’s opponent. “Anytime you put a team on the field like that one and they are used to scoring points in bunches, your defense has to get some stops in there somehow.”
But just to be on the safe side, Dorman is hedging his bet.
“Sometimes,” the Indians coach said, “the best defense is a good offense.
“They are a good enough team that you can’t live and die by the big play. We have to grind it out a little bit, and hopefully our offense can sustain some drives and keep their offense playing defense.”
The Wildcats, led by a pair of 1,000-yard rushers and a quarterback who has passed for more than 2,000 yards, are averaging nearly 65 points per game. Wilbur-Creston scored 94 points in an early season win at Entiat and talliled 82 in a home win over Pateros on the way to a 10-1 record and the Northeast 1B District South Division championship.
Senior Mason Copeland and junior Alex Putman are the Wildcats’ dynamic duo in the offensive backfield. Copeland (6-foot, 180 pounds) has carried 120 times this season for 1,624 yards, and Putman (6-1, 190) has garnered 1,173 yards on 132 carries.
“I would describe Mason as a slasher,” second-year W-C coach Darin Reppe said of his senior running back. “He can run for power, but he does have breakaway speed, and he can stop, change direction and cut. And he hits the hole. He is kind of a contrast to our other back.”
Putman, Reppe said, is the team’s power back.
“He has great vision and a real knack for finding the hole and following his blocks,” the coach said of Putman.
The W-C quarterback, junior Trystan Rosman, has completed 96 of his 154 passing attempts for 2,226 yards and 39 touchdowns. The trio of Joey Rosman (28 catches, 706 yards, 11 TDs), Copeland (24-508-8) and Colton Magers (19-494-14) are all favorite targets.
“We have scored a lot of points this season,” said Reppe, a 1992 Touchet High grad who during his senior season quarterbacked the Indians to the state quarterfinals under then-head coach Wayne Dickey.
“But we have not gone up against a defense the caliber of Touchet this season,” Reppe added as a cautionary note. “They really get after it on defense, they rally to the ball and they love to hit.”
The Indians defense has allowed two touchdowns or fewer in seven of 11 games this year en route to a 10-1 record and a share of the Southeast 1B League title with Colton and Liberty Christian. The defense was never better than in last week’s 68-14 playoff victory over Odessa-Harrington in which the Indians registered five quarterback sacks, intercepted four passes and held the Titans to zero yards from the line of scrimmage in a decisive first half.
Senior defensive end Colton Goble is the team’s tackling leader on the year and has been credited with 14 quarterback sacks, three fumble recoveries and a pair of blocked punts.
Junior linebacker back Colter McKeown has six pass interceptions on the year and has returned three of them for TDs, plus he’s recovered two fumbles. Senior defensive back Elias Martinez has five interceptions, one of them a pick-six, and six other deflections. The other DB, senior Edgar Rincon, has been credited with two picks and seven knockdowns. And Senior linebacker Ruben Butler has six sacks, two interceptions and two fumble recoveries.
Interestingly, Dorman believes Cesar Velasquez, his 150-pound senior end, is the team’s defensive most valuable player.
“At least he is last year to this year,” the coach said of Velasquez.
In addition to being one of the top tacklers on the team, Velasquez has been credited with 22 QB sacks or hurries, 30-plus tackles behind the line of scrimmage, a blocked punt and a kickoff return for a touchdown.
The Indians offense, meanwhile, has been lighting up the scoreboard at a pace of 51 points per game. But Touchet’s individual statistics pale in comparison to those put up by the Wildcats’ stat leaders.
Edgar Rincon is the team’s leading rusher with 654 yards on 77 carries. He has reached the end zone 13 times.
Goble has carried 71 times for 606 yards and a team-leading 14 touchdowns, Colter McKeown has packed the ball 54 times for 594 yards and seven scores, and Velasquez had garnered 366 yards on 44 trips, including six TDs.
Martinez, the quarterback, has rushed 25 times for 569 yards (22.7 yards per carry) and has scored 12 times via the run. His modest passing numbers are 31 completions in 57 attempts for 601 yards and 16 touchdowns.
Edgar Rincon leads the team in receiving yardage with 137 on seven catches, two of them for touchdowns, and Colter McKeown has a team-best 11 receptions for 96 yards and four scores. Goble has seven receptions for 114 yards and three TDs.
Reppe, who hasn’t watched the Indians in person this fall but has studied them on film, understands and appreciates Touchet’s offensive balance.
“They are so fundamentally sound,” the W-C coach said. “Their execution is flawless, and they have tremendous speed, quickness and athleticism all across the board.”
Dorman has a similar healthy respect for what he has seen of the Wildcats on film.
“Darin’s team is very physical, and we are probably not the most physical group,” the Indians coach said. “We rely more on speed and technique and putting kids in the right places.
“They have a couple of excellent running backs who will present problems because they are bigger than about anyone on our team. And they run hard and are well disciplined, so we will have to fine tune our defense a little.”
And Dorman is also aware of the other facet of the Wildcats’ attack, the passing game.
“They are certainly not one dimensional,” Dorman said. “I know that Darin likes to run it first, but he uses that to set up the pass. And they do a great job of protecting their quarterback.
“They are just a very well coached team. I am very impressed with how disciplined they are and the good decision making of their quarterback. He doesn’t throw it where it can usually be caught by anyone other than one of his guys.
“I guess when you score 90 points in a game, you must be doing something right.”