ILWACO — Making his first start at quarterback, Jackson Wilkin went deep early, hitting Parker Kaech for his first career touchdown pass. Wilkin split time at quarterback with Trevor Hutson as Ilwaco jumped out to a 27-0 lead on its way to a 27-14 season-opening victory over Vernonia Friday, Sept. 8.

Wilkin started and spent most of the game at quarterback, but Trevor Hutson moved over from running back to quarterback during two series. Both primarily played running back last year. Wilkin did see some action at quarterback last season, but this is the junior’s first season at any level regularly playing the position.

“I had so many butterflies, but after the first touchdown to Parker the nervousness went away,” he said.

Dylan Simonson helped his inexperienced quarterbacks out, catching short passes out of the backfield and gaining major yardage after the catch.

Wilkin said coaches alerted him that “the outside linebacker on Dylan’s side was blitzing every time,” leaving them vulnerable to the short pass.

But Wilkin showed his long-range connection with Kaech early on. Wilkin’s throw, about 20 yards downfield, led Kaech away from his defensive back, hitting him in stride to allow him to evade another oncoming tackler and score 3:35 into the game.

Ilwaco got the ball back on the very next play, as Bubba Douglas forced and recovered a fumble by Vernonia quarterback Gunnar Harral, taking the ball to the Loggers’ 10-yard line. Three plays later, Hutson, as a running back, plunged in from the one-yard-line to make it 14-0.

Simonson’s 20-yard catch-and-run set up a second-quarter touchdown. Safety Tanner Brasket intercepted a deep pass at the 10-yard line near the end of the half to keep the Loggers off the board.

Wilkin and Hutson, alternating between quarterback and running back, pounded away with inside runs, while Douglas ran to the outside for some big gains.

A pair of 20-yard runs by Douglas set up another short Hutson touchdown run for a 27-0 third-quarter lead.

With Ilwaco up 27-6, defensive tackle Michael Rodda stuffed a fourth and one run up the middle at the quarter’s end.

Vernonia went 95 yards in 1:50 and scored as time expired, adding the two-point conversion for a 27-14 final score.

Coach Sean Cease said he expects to continue giving Hutson and Wilkin snaps at quarterback in the immediate future.

“I wanted them both to get in the game while it was a competitive game. I’ve got to look at the film. I don’t know how many more games we’re going to do it, but we’re probably going to look at both of them for a while.”

Ilwaco will travel to White Salmon to face Columbia Friday, Sept. 13 at 7 p.m.

Aaron Mead is a sports writer for the Chinook Observer. Contact him at 360-642-8181 or aaroncmead@gmail.com.

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