Prep Football: Tigers Fall Short in Season Opener
TOUGH BREAKS: Lumberjacks Jump Out to 21-0 Halftime Lead in 54-21 Nonleague Win
By Aaron VanTuyl
LONGVIEW — It wasn’t the way the Tigers had hoped to start the season.
Well, maybe that’s not entirely true. The actual start of Centralia’s 2017 football debut went just as it was drawn up. Kolby Baird kicked off, dribbled a short boot to his left, and the Tigers recovered the awkwardly bouncing ball for the first optimal onside kick result of new head coach Jeremy Thibault’s young tenure.
The promising opening, though, was little more than a red herring in Centralia’s 54-21 nonleague loss. The Lumberjacks took advantage of a slew of short-field situations given by their guests in the rare Thursday night affair at Longview Memorial Stadium, turning two botched first-half punts into quick touchdowns, recovering a third in the end zone and keeping the Tiger offense at bay for three quarters.
“It was a bunch of things. We’re not going to hang the loss on the snaps — we still lose the game if we get all three of those punts back,” Thibault said. “But maybe the momentum changes, and maybe attitudes, and maybe if we’re not down that much maybe our toughness goes up, too.”
R.A. Long quarterback Owen Enriquez, a speedy 5-foot-11 junior, completed 11 of his 17 pass attempts for 148 yards and three touchdowns, operating out of an empty backfield early in the game. Running back Parker Reeves added 89 rushing yards and a pair of touchdowns on eight carries, helping the Lumberjacks to 322 yards of total offense.
Most of that offense came in the second half, particularly a final 8 1/2 minutes in which 34 points were scored. The first of those final five scores, though, gave R.A. Long a 41-7 lead.
“There’s a bunch,” Thibault said, of the little things that didn’t go the Tigers’ way in the loss. “We’re going to watch some film, and figure out what’s wrong, and fix it.”
Centralia lost a fumble three plays after recovering the opening kick, but Tristan Dickey intercepted Enriquez’s first pass. The Tigers turned the ball over on downs, and R.A. Long responded with an eight-play drive that covered 46 yards, capped when Enriquez hit Jacob Thompson in the middle of the end zone from 15 yards out.
The Tigers then fell victim to their first bad snap on a punt, which set the Lumberjacks up 5 yards from the end zone. Mark Evans packed the ball in on a reverse to push the lead to 14-0.
Another misplayed punt late in the second quarter left the Lumberjacks 10 yards from the end zone, and Reeves got his first touchdown on a 2-yard run two plays later, putting the hosts up 21-0 at the intermission.
“It’s the football cliche, a game of inches, you know, and they had 60 or 70 yards of offense in the first half and a 21-point lead,” Thibault said. “If you can do that, you’re going to win football games. We gave them some, and then we had some cramps and injuries, and you can’t do that and be successful. It just came down to a want, and they wanted it.”
The Tigers got their first touchdown midway through the third quarter, when Kolby Baird found Dickey for a 30-yard strike, but the Lumberjacks strung together a 10-play, 48-yard drive, with Enriquez hitting Wallace in the end zone on a 2-yard route
“About once every four plays we did something really nice,” Thibault said. “Baird threw a great ball the third time we tried to do it. We ran a trap great, and then the next time we do it the kid’s getting hit in the backfield. The lack of consistency really hurt us tonight.”
The fourth quarter, though, did show a bit of offensive promise. Jerad Frias punched into the end zone on a 4-yard run, and Baird found Jose Pineda up the left side for a 38-yard touchdown, though the game was out of hand at that point.
“The effort was good,” Thibault said. “I’m not questioning their effort, but we’ve got to get better, and mentally, not physically.”
Notes: Dylan Purkey led Centralia with 47 rushing yards on 47 carries. … The Tigers had 209 yards of total offense, with 42 coming in the first half. … Jose Pineda added an interception for the Tigers. … Centralia will host Mark Morris next Friday in its home opener.
LUMBERJACKS 54, TIGERS 21
Centralia 0 0 7 14 —21
R.A. Long 14 7 13 20 —54
RAL — Owen Enriquez 15-yard pass to Jacob Thompson; Julio Magana-Huerta kick
RAL — Mark Evans 5-yard run; Magana-Huerta kick
RAL — Parker Reeves 2-yard run; Magana-Huerta kick
CEN — Kolby Baird 30-yard pass to Tristan Dickey; Baird kick
RAL — Enriquez 2-yard pass to Conner Wallace; kick failed
RAL — Tyler Herr fumble recovery in end zone; Magana-Huerta kick
RAL — Jayden Young 17-yard run; Magana-Huerta kick
CEN — Jerad Frias 4-yard run; Baird kick
RAL — Enriquez 33-yard pass to Young; Magana-Huerta kick
CEN — Baird 38-yard pass to Jose Pineda; Baird kick
RAL — Reeves 54-yard run; kick failed
Team Stats CEN RAL
First Downs 11 8
Rushing Yards 123 159
Passing Yards 86 163
Total Yards 209 322
Comp-Att-Int 4-16-1 13-19-2
Fumbles/Lost 4/1 1/0
Penalties/Yards 8/40 12/99
Rushing: CEN — Dylan Purkey 9/47, Jerad Frias 6/22; RAL — Parker Reeves 8/89, Jayden Young 3/37
Passing: CEN — Kolby Baird 4-15/86; RAL — Owen Enriquez 11-17/148
Receiving: CEN — Jose Pineda 1/38, Tristan Dickey 1/30; RAL — Jayden Young 2/45, Anthony Broxton 3/50