TOUCHET — There wasn’t much in the way of suspense here Friday on another golden October afternoon in the Walla Walla Valley as Touchet crushed Lacrosse-Washtucna in a Southeast 1B League 8-man football game.
The once-proud Tigercats — winners of eight state championships, including four in a row beginning in 2002 — limped into Friday’s game with an 0-6 record and several key players watching the game in street clothes.
The Indians, meanwhile, who are trying to revive their own autumn tradition — Touchet has won four state gridiron crowns but none since 1999 — entered the game with a 5-1 record overall and a share of second place in the league standings.
So Friday’s 58-6 final score — and the way the outcome was administered — was largely anticipated. The Indians put up 36 points in the first quarter, led 52-6 at halftime and the second half, by rule, was played with a running clock to expedite the lopsided affair.
The surprises came later on when scores from elsewhere around the league rolled in.
Colton, which suffered a 38-14 loss to the Indians on this very same field just one week ago, ambushed defending state champion Liberty Christian 44-32 in Colton, knocking the Knights out of sole possession of first place.
Sunnyside Christian continued to prove that its early success is legit with a 52-0 thumping of winless St. John-Endicott in Sunnyside.
And in the game that perhaps caught Touchet coach Gary Dorman’s attention the most, Garfield-Palouse took down Pomeroy 44-30 up on the Palouse. Gar-Pal leveled its league record at 2-2 and knocked Pomeroy out of what would have been a share of first place had the Pirates prevailed.
The Indians travel to Gar-Pal next Friday night for their final road game of the season. They close out the season at home against Sunnyside Christian and Pomeroy.
“Oh, boy! We now have three in a row potentially really tough games,” the Touchet coach said.
“Gar-Pal could be right up there if not for a couple of bad breaks. Pomeroy is tough and always so well coached. And Sunnyside Christian is still kind of a mystery team.”
With three weeks remaining in the season four teams — Touchet, Liberty Christian, Colton and Sunnyside Christian — are deadlocked for first place at 3-1 while Gar-Pal and Pomeroy are just a step behind at 2-2. So the race is just beginning.
Meanwhile, the Indians spread the spoils of war around Friday.
Nine different players carried the ball from scrimmage as Touchet accrued 305 yards rushing on 31 rushes. Elias Martinez had 94 of those yards on just three trips, including a 37-yard TD run to get the scoring started.
Three different Touchet quarterbacks combined to go 5-for-5 passing to five different receivers for 78 yards. Martinez connected with Connor McKeown on a 9-yard touchdown toss, Colter McKeown hit Cesar Velasquez for a 6-yard score and sophomore Carlos Rincon, the Tribe’s QB of the future, was 3-for-3 passing for 63 yards.
L-W’s Bo Rice garnered 125 yards rushing on 14 carries and scored the Tigercats’ lone touchdown on a 61-yard run late in the first quarter. Stephen Erickson rushed for 104 yards and Chance Rice completed 5-of-10 passes for 57 yards but was also intercepted twice.
The Tigercats also lost a fumble — they recovered seven other of their own drops — and had both of their punt attempts blocked. It was disaster all around.
“This was still better than practice,” Dorman said of the game. “In practice, our kids on defense know all the plays and play accordingly. At least today the reactions were different.
“And a lot of younger kids got to play a lot of minutes. I was real pleased with how hard James Kates and Titus Miller, a couple of freshman, ran the ball. Also, this was Carlos Rincon’s first chance to play quarterback in a varsity game, and our defense didn’t let them score in the second half.”
INDIANS 58, TIGERCATS 6
Lacrosse-Washtucna 6 0 0 0 — 6
Touchet 36 16 0 6 — 58
Tou — Martinez 37 run (R. Butler pass from Martinez).
Tou — Goble 10 run (E. Rincon run).
Tou — Velasquez 6 pass from Col. McKeown (run failed).
Tou — Col. McKeown 20 run (pass failed).
L-W — B. Rice 61 run (pass failed).
Tou — E. Rincon 28 run (Martinez run).
Tou — Con. McKeown 9 pass from Martinez (Kates run).
Tou — C. Rincon 1 run (Kates run).
Tou — C. Rincon 28 run (run failed).
First downs 13 17
Rushes/yards 14-130 31-305
Passing yards 57 78
Passes (att-comp-int) 10-5-2 5-5-0
Punts 2-(-7.5) 0-0
Fumbles-lost 8-1 1-0
Penalties-yards 6-30 5-25
RUSHING — L-W: B. Rich 14-125, Erickson 16-104, C. Rice 7-7, BeDell 3-(-15), Van Camp 1-(-1); Touchet: Goble 3-25, E. Rincon 3-19, Martinez 3-94, Col. McKeown 2-40, Con. McKeown 1-28, Kates 7-43, C. Rincon 4-31, Miller 7-27, L. Butler 1-(-1).
PASSING — L-W: C. Rice 5-10-2, 57 yards. Touchet: Col. McKeown 1-1-0, 6 yards, 1 touchdown; Martinez 1-1-0, 9 yards, 1 touchdown; C. Rincon 3-3-0, 63 yards.
RECEIVING — L-W: Erickson 4-14-0, Van Camp 1-43-0; Touchet: Velasquez 1-6-1, Con. McKeown 1-9-0, Ogden 1-13-0, L. Butler 1-26-0, Hopkins 1-24-0.