Coach Don Clegg was worried coming into the 2013 season. A big staple from recent, successful Rams teams was missing – size on both sides of the ball. Three games into the season, those fears have been erased, as speed has become the main factor the Rams have sprinted out of the gate to a 3-0 start. Wilson displayed more speed on Sept. 20, blowing out Shelton 41-7 at Stadium Bowl in the Narrows 3A opener for both clubs.
“We did a good job of taking them out of the game early, and Isaiah (Simpson) was tremendous,” said the dean of Tacoma coaches, who is now in his 26th year with Wilson.
The Rams wasted little time getting on the board, as Simpson found plenty of room down the right sideline and went untouched for a 60-yard touchdown on their first offensive play to give Wilson an early 7-0 lead.
“I give it up to my teammates tonight. We went hard every play and executed all night long,” said Simpson. “It was a great team win.”
Simpson would score the second of his three touchdowns on the night early in the second quarter when he scampered 62 yards to the end zone, as he would compile 202 of his game-high 242 rushing yards in the first half.
After Shelton scored to cut the lead in half, Simpson did it again, scoring from 53 yards out to make it 21-7.
“I can’t say enough about the clinic that Isaiah and his teammates put on tonight,” Clegg said.
With the Rams sporting a 34-7 lead late in the game, quarterback Julius Yates-Brown put the capper on this league opener with a 62-yard touchdown run.
“I’m pretty happy with the offensive display tonight, but we’ll have to get better at stopping the run when we come up against the likes of North Thurston, Timberline, and Lincoln down the road,” Clegg said. “And look out for a much-improved Foss team, too.”
Yates-Brown, who like Simpson gives the Rams loads of athletic ability, also has caught Clegg’s eye early on.
“Julius did a great job of running our option game tonight. He’s been very good to this point of the season and we’ll need him to execute like he has for the rest of the season,” Clegg said.
The Rams piled up a staggering 510 yards of total offense on the night, but were scheduled for a tough test on Sept. 26, travelling to take on Timberline.
By Steve Mullen
FALCONS FALL JUST SHORT AGAINST RAMS
In just his second year at Foss, Pat Johnson has his players adopting the never-give-up mindset. Battling miscues and turnovers all night, the Falcons still gave themselves a chance to move to 3-0 on the season, but missed a two-point conversion late against North Thurston to give the Rams a 22-20 win on Sept. 20 at Mount Tahoma Stadium.
“It’s nice to know that they believe when they walk on the field that they are going to win,” said Johnson of his squad. “Our goal is to be in every game. I think our kids are buying into that. They play for each other.”
Senior bruising fullback Patiole Pesefea scored his second touchdown of the night with 28 seconds left to cap a 10-play, 73-yard drive for the Falcons to bring them within two points. But he was stopped just short on the two-point attempt, and the Rams recovered the resulting onside kick and ran out the clock.
Pesefea got the Falcons on the board on the first drive of the game, scoring on a 7-yard run to cap a 15-play, 67-yard drive. Converted to fullback from the offensive line before the season, the 6-foot-2, 295-pounder finished with nine carries for 52 yards.
“It’s been good for me, helping my team wherever I can,” Pesefea said of the position change. “Whatever position they put me, I’ll play just to help out the team.”
North Thurston answered when Ryan Mets hit Brandon Morgan for an 11-yard score to make it 7-7 on the first play of the second quarter. The Rams took a 13-7 lead when Josh Ramirez scored on a one-yard run with 7:21 left in the first half, two plays after a botched punt snap gave North Thurston the ball on Foss’ 2-yard line.
The Falcons looked to take back momentum before the half after back-to-back nice runs by quarterback Isaiah Littlejohn and running back Devon Clark – who led the Falcons with 15 carries for 99 yards – but another botched snap resulted in a loss of 18 yards. Littlejohn narrowly missed hitting Bacaari Kiner for a 34-yard touchdown on fourth down.
But Littlejohn later gave the Falcons a 14-13 lead with 2:15 left in the third when he scored on a three-yard run. The Falcons had several chances to add on in the fourth quarter, but Littlejohn was intercepted on three straight drives – two coming deep in North Thurston territory. The Rams took a 19-14 lead early in the fourth when Mets hit Luke Yanna for a 27-yard touchdown, and added a 21-yard field goal with 6:12 left in the game.
The Falcons’ defense – headed by the front four of Pesefea, Felix Atoa, Ben Faalavaau and 340-pound Tray Williams – gave the offense the late chance to tie with a key stop, as they limited North Thurston to less than 200 total yards of offense on the night.
“We’ve really built a (defensive) line anchored by (Pesefea) and Tray,” Johnson said. “They take on some blocks.”
And despite the bitter end, Pesefea and his teammates are beginning to see the positive changes under Johnson, after three disappointing seasons.
“The past three years at Foss we’ve been dealing with adversity,” Pesefea said. “We’ve finally figured it out my senior year. You’ve just got to learn how to handle it…you never know the outcome.”
By Jeremy Helling
FIFE SHUTS DOWN CLOVER PARK
In an early league showdown between Fife and Clover Park, it came down to the defenses. The Trojans made a few more defensive plays, and got a couple of key scores in the second half to take a 17-7 win over the Warriors on Sept. 19 at Harry Lang Stadium.
“It was a defensive battle,” said Clover Park head coach Jon Randall. “They were able to stop us when they had to, and we weren’t able to stop them.”
Both defenses stood tall in the first half, as the Warriors stopped the Trojans on fourth down at their own 25-yard line on the first drive of the game, but then botched a field goal attempt after driving to the Trojans’ 9-yard line on the legs of running back Cordell Nelson. The senior tallied six carries for 66 yards – including a 48-yard scamper – on the Warriors’ opening drive, and had 18 carries for 119 yards by halftime. Nelson added an interception to with 3:48 left in the first half, wrestling the ball away from Fife tight end Kaleb McGary to snuff out the Trojans’ drive in Clover Park territory.
After going to the break scoreless, the Warriors looked as if they would put up the first points when quarterback Keila Pritchard connected with Damien Davis – who finished with six catches for 105 yards – to the Trojans’ 1-yard line. But Fife’s defense stood firm on three straight plays, and another botched snap on the field goal attempt forced Pritchard to scramble and fire a desperation pass, which was intercepted by Colin Mozzone.
Fife then marched 84 yards in 14 plays, settling for a field goal with 4:13 left in the third quarter. But the Warriors responded, as Pritchard hit Davis for a 33-yard gain on the next drive and Nelson scored on an eight-yard run to make it 7-3. The Trojans struck right back, as crucial penalties helped them move downfield and Keanu Songcuan regained the lead, scoring on a 22-yard sweep. The Trojans made it 17-7 early in the fourth quarter when Austin Woods scored on an 11-yard sweep on the right side.
“We talked to our guys about just taking it to them instead of just waiting to see what happens,” said Fife head coach Kent Nevin. “It started to change things.”
Nelson, the Warriors’ main source of offense on the night, was shut down for the most part in the second half, finishing with 28 carries for 140 yards in the game.
“He is a talented athlete, and he brings it every single play,” Nevin said. “We really tried to do our best to corral him with our safeties and linebackers.”
By Jeremy Helling