ILWACO - Jarod Schaak recovered an on-side kick on the opening play, Mooch Smith tossed a 12-yard touchdown strike to Schaak eight downs later and Ilwaco never looked back as they overwhelmed Ocosta 25-7 in a key Southwest Washington League tilt at Pederson Field Friday.
After a Matt Kaino interception, tailback Alex Martin's 15-yard scamper over left tackle was good for another touchdown and a 13-0 lead. A pair of 13-yard pick-ups by Eddie Knick set up the first quarter touchdown romp. Bobby Crislip connected on the first PAT kick.
Ocosta put together a 12-play, 65-yard drive for their only score of the contest early in the second period as quarterback Randy Poole crossed the goal line from four-yards out. The extra point kick by Justin Ness had plenty of leg to make the score 13-7.
A telling stretch for the Fishermen came just before intermission. Smith connected on a 22-yard strike to Schaak, as the senior wide receiver out-leaped two Wildcat defenders in the end zone for Ilwaco's third TD. The score was set up by Caudle's 10-yard return of a punt that traveled only 10-yards to the Ocosta 25-yard line.
Moments later a play resembling the famous Stanford-California "marching band play" occurred when Schaak intercepted Poole's bomb on his own 21-yard line as the claxon sounded for intermission. The rangy defensive back rambled for 42-yards and then pitched the ball to Smith, who gained another 15 before going out of bounds while looking for yet another Fishermen to lateral to. A late hit penalty by Ocosta was marked off in the second half.
The only score of the second half came when Jamison blocked a punt and Martin recovered the ball on Ocosta's 27-yard line. Knick carried the pigskin in from 8-yards out with 6:49 remaining in the third stanza to up the Ilwaco lead to 25-7. The run for PAT failed.
The Fishermen offensive line of Anthony Wirkkala, Theo Raaymakers, Jeff Nesbitt, Geoff Hylton and Crislip helped Ilwaco out-gain the Wildcats 237 to 132 in total offense. Defensively, those same linemen and R.J. Jamison and linebackers Smith, Joe Goelz and Colten Chalker were superlative in stopping Ocosta both inside and outside.
Poole was a dismal 1-for-15 throwing, with two balls intercepted by the Fishermen. Knick and David Caudle rounded out the secondary that completely stifled the senior Wildcat chucker. Jamison blocked a punt and was in on two sacks of Poole. Hylton, Wirkkala, Martin, and Crislip added at least two more QB sacks as Hylton now has eight tackles for losses this season.
In the second half, Poole had a 76-yard run waved off due to an illegal block and a 62-yard screen pass called back when an ineligible receiver or two were detected down field. Those two miscues, and the four Wildcat turnovers, completely changed the complexion of the important SWW fray.
Crislip had praise for his Ilwaco mates, saying, "Our backs are hitting the holes great this season and our entire line is blocking very well. We have been concentrating on doing the job on every play." Martin and Schaak each recovered fumbles in the second half.
Coach Ned Bittner said, "Schaak is the best special teams player in the league." After his team played an exceptional all-around game the coach added, "Mooch (Smith) passed the ball well and we ran effectively, even when they were keying on our ground game. Our defense gave us great field position the entire second half."
The Fishermen are off to a 3-0 start and 2-0 in the SWW, the best start in decades for Ilwaco football. Ocosta drops to 1-2 and 1-1 in league play. The Fishermen visit Toledo Friday against a 0-3 Indian team. Kickoff is 7 p.m. with the game broadcast on 1370 KAST AM radio.
"We can't let teams hang around that we are supposed to beat. We have to take care of business," Bittner reminded his squad as they looked forward to three non-contenders in the next three weeks.