ILWACO — The Fishermen were scoring early and often during their 52-18 homecoming win over North Beach last Thursday. Ilwaco (3-2, 5-4) were scoring from the opening play of the game, in a resounding win that ended with a running clock due to the size of Ilwaco’s victory. An enormous contingent of IHS students greeted the players on the field after the game for a rousing rendition of the school fight song.
“It’s a great feeling. It’s a good confidence booster,” said senior running back Brandon McMullen after the game.
The victory, coupled with a Pacific League coin flip win, has Ilwaco finishing the regular season in second place in league and will host a District IV crossover game Friday night at 7 p.m.
The only problem is, the opponent is the team that has knocked them from the playoffs the last two years, Toledo.
“We have played well the past four weeks (going 3-1) but we face Toledo, a team that has beat us five times in the past three years,” said coach Kevin McNulty. “When teams reach postseason there are not easy games, especially in District IV, where the best 2B football in the state may be played.”
Ilwaco took control of Thursday’s homecoming game from the opening kick, which Trenton Cox ran back 75 yards for a touchdown, to take a 6-0 lead. On their first possession, the Fishermen ran an offense they’ve been toying with — putting two running backs in a shotgun position to receive the snap, rather than a quarterback — with McMullen taking the snap the majority of the time. It didn’t take long before McMullen was rumbling down field to set up a five yard TD run by receiver Alex Kaino, putting IHS up 12-0.
“We’ve got a lot of bodies going in the same direction. We just run it down their throats,” said McMullen of the offense.
North Beach quarterback Brandon Chaney showed off his arm as he moved the Hyaks down the field on their next possession. But the Ilwaco defense came up big on a fourth and 6 at the IHS 15 yard line to get the ball back. It wasn’t long until Ilwaco was in the end zone again, this time on a 43-yard run by Allen Chetwood, to put the Fishermen up 18-0. Kaino recovered the ball on the ensuing onside kick, giving IHS the ball. Ilwaco scored their fourth touchdown of the first quarter after McMullen faked a hand off, spun around, and threw a perfect 38-yard pass to a wide open Tenyson Ramsey. Jorge Galvan added his first extra point of the night, giving IHS a 25-0 lead.
“We have had it installed for a few weeks and used it the past two,” said McNulty of the offense. “We will use it periodically, and it has good misdirection and gives some blocking angles. It also allows us the ability to utilize our best back in a different way.”
McMullen scored a fifth IHS TD to start the second quarter, after pulling five North Beach defenders into the end zone. Galvan connected on the extra point to give IHS a 31-0 lead. McMullen racked up 163 yards on only 15 carries in the game — a nearly 11 yards per carry average.
Once again, North Beach was able to drive on the IHS defense, but Hyak’s QB Chaney was picked off in the end zone by defensive back Trent Ransey. Now with quarterback Ethan Personius under center, Ilwaco scored a sixth TD, after he connected with Kaino for a 38-yard pass play. Galvan added the extra point to give IHS a 39-0 lead at halftime.
Ilwaco was slowed some to start the third quarter, with North Beach able to capitalize on an Ilwaco fumbled snap and scored their first touchdown at 8:12, to make the score 39-6. The Fishermen were back on the board less than two minutes later though, after Chetwood ran 35 yards to give IHS a 45-6 lead at 6:44 in the third. Brandon Duke would add a final TD on a 5-yard run, with Galvan providing the extra point, to give Ilwaco a 52-6 lead. With their starters on the bench, Ilwaco allowed two North Beach scores in the fourth quarter.
Personius went a perfect 5-of-5 passing for 68 yards and a TD; Ilwaco’s 52 points is the most they’ve scored in a game since their 54-6 win over Ocosta last season; Ilwaco won a coin flip over the other two teams finishing 3-2 in the Pacific League — South Bend and Raymond — to claim the number two seed in the Pacific League going into this week’s district crossover playoff; Of the 438 yards of offense Ilwaco had Thursday, 353 came on the ground; Thursday’s home win was Ilwaco’s first since the season opener against Nestucca; Toledo comes into Friday’s game off a 47-0 win over Winlock (2-7), but have lost two of their last three games; Toledo scores an average of 26.3 points a game to Ilwaco’s 25.1. But, Toledo only gives up an average of 12.8, compared to Ilwaco’s 26.5 per game.