NASELLE — What a night to be a Comet.
The Naselle Comets (3-0, 5-2) proved once again why they may be the best football team in the 1B Coastal League Friday night, winning their 2016 Homecoming game 56-14 over visiting Oakville. Naselle jumped out to a three touchdown lead before the first quarter ended and cruised with a running clock in the second half. The big win was appreciated by head coach Jeff Eaton, who celebrated by doing a leaping chest bump with junior Donny Edwards after game, but he still sees room for improvement.
“This is the first night all season we had everyone healthy and ready to go,” said head coach Jeff Eaton after the game. “I was a little worried all week how they would work together, the chemistry. But it’s coming together.”
Naselle spread the offense around, with six different Comets scoring. Edwards got things going with a 59-yard running TD, which was quickly followed up by a Brian Smith fumble return for a 21-yard touchdown. Erik Lund then scored on a 70-yard run, and followed that with a 18-yard touchdown.
The Comets were slowed some on their fifth possession and looked like they might stall out with a fourth and long before quarterback Cole Dorman found DJ Wirkkala for a 12-yard score.
When the Acorns employed their power run game they found some success, thanks in part to a giant front line that can run over defenders. After marching down the field, Oakville faced a fourth down and 12 on the Naselle 15 before scoring on a pass that went through the hands of Naselle’s Oggie Lopez for a TD.
“We don’t have the girth we had last year (on the line), we had some big guys,” said Eaton. “They had a good game plan with their bug guys. We hadn’t seen that out of them before.”
The Acorns then attempted to get the ball back with an on-side kick, but the ball went straight to Naselle’s Parker Dalton, who returned it 50 yards for another touchdown. On their next possession, the Acorns quarterback was intercepted by Edwards who returned it 35 yards for the final score of the first half.
“Everybody’s healthy now so we need to get better working together. We’re doing alright but we can do a lot better,” said senior Jacob Scrabeck.
And while the first half of Friday’s game took nearly an hour and a half to play, with a running clock, the second half lasted little over 24 minutes. The Acorns once again employed their power run game to start the second half and ate up the entire quarter with their opening possession, scoring at 1:43.
The Comets tacked on one more score in the fourth quarter after subbing a number of their starters, when freshman running back Fa’aoso Tutu’u took a short pass and turned it into a 48 yard touchdown.
The Comets will have the chance to wrap up their first Coastal League title when they travel to Taholah (2-0, 3-2) for a rare middle-of-the-week game on Wednesday night, 6 p.m. The game, which had to be rescheduled from two weeks ago when the impending storm canceled all activities, will also decide the top seed going into the playoffs.
The Chitwins are the only other undefeated team in the league, and have a reputation for being tough.
“For sure. I picked them to win (the league) because they had most of their starters back (from last season),” said coach Eaton. “Tahloah’s bigger than us too, they may try the power run. I’m glad we had this game before Tahloah, and now we get a couple days of practice and then get ready for them. But I think everybody’s ready.”
The Comets defeated the Chitwins last season 46-14, but the year prior (2014, Naselle’s first playing 8-man football as a 1B team) defeated Naselle twice in two high-scoring games — 80-70 and 42-38.
“I just want to get it over with,” said Scrabeck of the upcoming game. “I’ve just heard they’re aggressive.”
A win and the Comets will be the top seed out of their district and get automatically seeded in the 1B state playoffs. A loss will force them to likely host a district round playoff game.
QB Dorman went 4-of-10 passing for 96 yards and two passing TDs. Lund only ran the ball four times but still racked up 94 yards and two scores. DJ Wirkkala led the defense with 11 tackles, followed by Scrabeck with 10. Seniors Brian Smith and Taylor Ford were crowned Homecoming king and queen at halftime.