ILWACO — Skies were on fire and fans celebrated throughout the Ilwaco homecoming game, a 54-6 Fishermen win over the Ocosta Wildcats on Friday, Oct. 21. With salvos of fireworks punctuating every touchdown, the team took a 41-6 lead by halftime.
A pregame ceremony honored seniors, with announcer Rod Anderson reading brief biographical statements. Alec Bell’s statement described his proudest accomplishment as being part of the team that turned Ilwaco’s football reputation around. An All-League performer last year who has battled back from a hamstring injury this season, Bell said goodbye to fans with a dominant performance. Bell ran for 111 yards on nine carries and had five of Ilwaco’s seven pass receptions for another 72 yards.
Seniors also include quarterback Jack Odneal, receivers Ethan Bannister and Ryan Schenk, linemen Daylin Kemmer, John Hunt and Donovan Mallory, and defensive back Trenton Cox. Odneal finished 7 for 11 for three touchdowns and ran four times for 65 yards and a score in his final home game. Cox came up with an interception. Mallory’s pre-game bio cited as his favorite memory a game during his junior year, when he got in on one play in a varsity game and sacked the quarterback; he plans to attend the University of Washington and become a geneticist. Hunt plans to join the Marines.
Bell quickly made the game his own, with a 23-yard run on the first play. Brandon McMullen followed with a 25-yarder. On the third play of the game, Odneal faked a handoff, then hit Bell for a five-yard touchdown after just 48 seconds of play. Bell capped Ilwaco’s next drive with a six-yard touchdown catch for a 14-0 lead. Brandon Duke’s 20-yard touchdown run gave the Fishermen a 21-0 lead late in the first quarter.
The Wildcats’ only highlight was a sack of Jack Odneal, which forced a fumble. Ocosta’s Gabe Elder recovered the fumble at the Ilwaco one-yard line. Two plays later, Ocosta’s Matthew Hart fumbled the snap but recovered it in the end zone for a touchdown.
McMullen immediately got Ilwaco back on track, starting their drive with a 31-yard run. On the next play, he took a delayed handoff and burst through a huge hole for a 41-yard score. McMullen finished with 131 yards on eight carries, plus an interception on defense.
Odneal scored on a 45-yard run down the sideline for a 34-6 lead just over 16 minutes into the game. Jorge Galvin’s subsequent onside kick bounced to the outside of Ocosta’s formation and headed toward the sidelines. Alex Kaino dived in to recover it just before it went out of bounds. That led to another quick scoring drive, which McMullen finished off with a six-yard run.
Halftime saw the crowning of the homecoming court. Brady Vinsonhaler and Dominique Bittner were freshman prince and princess, Edward Hilliard and Lilyanna Doupe represented the sophomores, and Jesus Esquivel and Chandelle Thomas were the juniors. Daylin Kemmer was homecoming king, besting Ryan Schenk and Blake Hajdok. Erika Araujo was the queen, winning out over Shannon Driscoll and Brianna Baird.
The second half was just a formality. A running clock started after Alex Kaino’s 10-yard third quarter touchdown. Parker Kaech came in at quarterback to relieve Odneal and capped the scoring with a two-yard run in the fourth quarter. After the game there was one last fireworks display in a clear, dark sky.