TACOMA — The Naselle Comet football team got off to a good start with a 42-8 win over Chief Leschi High School in Tacoma on Friday. The game against the 2B opponent was one of two 11-man games the Comets will play this year.
“We started off slow but, as the game moved on, we got more comfortable,” said Naselle’s Hayden Gudmundsen. “It’s pretty much a whole new group and, as the game went on, we began to come together and we got stronger. We still have a lot of things to work on, but I was very happy with the way we started off the season.”
The Comets stalled on their first possession, but found the end zone on their second time with the ball and never looked back. With four key players out due to injuries, coach Jeff Eaton tried a number of player moves in the first half of the game in order to improve their ground game. Gudmundsen and Justin Martinez put in time at the tailback position, while Skyler York was used at fullback.
“We were just trying different things,” said Eaton. “As you can imagine, for this early in the season, we had some successes and we had not-so-successful results. On a few occasions, our guys in the backfield were bumping into each other on handoffs and that sort of thing. The line was creating holes but, we weren’t hitting them as quick and as hard as we need to hit them and our guys were getting dragged down by jersey tackles.”
Cole Bergeson quarterbacked the first three quarters of the game, with Gudmundsen taking over in the fourth. Bergeson completed 9-15 passes for 75 yards and ran the ball for 74, including a 44 yard run. Gudmundsen completed 1-3 passes, and carried the ball 14 times for 69 yards.
On the defensive side, Kyler Wulf led the team with nine tackles, including one for a loss of yards, and one and a half sacks. Another standout was defensive tackle Allyn Bauer with five tackles, including one for a loss of yards, a fumble recovery and two and a half sacks. Gudmundsen, Brian Smith and Gino Juarez all had interceptions, with Juarez running his back for a touchdown.
Chief Leschi, who are part of the 2B Pacific League, extended their near 30-game winless streak with the loss. The team had their backs to the wall before the game even started as they could only field 11 players due to ineligibilities. At one point, a player was injured, so the Comets played 10 man football for a while on defense. The Warriors scored their lone touchdown after recovering a Comet fumble on their 12 yard line in the third quarter.
Wide receiver Matt Carter said he felt the team performed well for their first game of the season.
“Despite missing some key players, we executed pretty good as a team,” he said. “Our linemen had good blocks. Skyler (York) went in and played fullback for a bit, and he enjoys running over people. It was a pretty good game for us. It let the other people know that, while we may be dropping down to 1B, we are still going to play hard. I think it was a good tempo setter for the rest of the season.”
“Overall, it was a pretty good first game,” said Eaton. “We had over 300 yards offensively and our defense was pretty good throughout the game. We were able to get every one of the players who were suited up into the game.”
The coach said he expects that three of his four injured players will return to the lineup for Friday’s game at Rockaway Beach, Ore., against Neah-Kah-Nie. The Pirates lost their season opener at home to Reedsport, Ore., 53-8 last Friday. Neah-Kah-Nie went 2-6 last season.