NASELLE — With the coaching staff and ball boys decked out in T-shirts proclaiming their team as an “Army of 8,” the Comets entered their first-ever eight-man football game Friday night with the visiting Oakville Acorns.
A quick score by the Acorns had coach Jeff Eaton thinking, “Ohh, here we go. This is what it’s going to be like — a track meet.”
It did go fast, but from that point forward, the Comets were the only team running.
Coming off the field after a 56-14 mercy rule win, a happy Skyler York said, “We started off a little loose and paid the price early in the game. However, we came back strong on defense from that point on. That gave our offense the opportunity to pull away. A good result for our first eight-man game.”
Following the opening score, the Comet defense stepped up and stopped the Acorns in their tracks. Fine play by Tony Lopez and Franco Smith consistently turned the Oakville runners toward the inside where they were met by Naselle tacklers. In fact, the Acorns didn’t put any more positive yardage in the books until the fourth quarter — once the NHS JVs were in the game.
“Defense is the name of the game and we played better defense tonight then we have for a while,” said Justin Martinez. “The guys played well and we felt good out there. This is what we practice for.”
The Comets scored on their first possession with a 12-yard run by QB Cole Bergeson. The conversion failed, tying the score at 6-6. Later in the quarter, Lopez caught a 22-yard pass from Bergeson for a TD. Smith ran in the conversion, giving the Comets a 14-6 lead.
In the second quarter, Smith scored on a two-yard run and carried the ball for the two-point conversion. Smith scored again with a one-yard run followed by a Bergeson pass to Kyler Wulf for the conversion. Justin Martinez scored on a 10 yard run, but the conversion attempt failed leaving the score 36-6 at halftime.
In the third quarter, Lopez recovered an Acorn fumble in the end zone for a TD followed by a failed conversion. Later, a 30-yard pass play from Bergeson to Lopez added another TD. Smith carried the ball for the 2 point conversion, to end the quarter with a 50-6 lead.
In the fourth quarter, a pass by backup quarterback Hayden Gudmundsen to Gino Juarez resulted in a 47 yard touchdown. With a 50-point lead, the mercy rule was enacted and the remainder of the game was played with a running clock.
Smith leading the Comets in rushing yards with 81 on 12 carries, he also caught two passes for 27 yards. Lopez had four carries for 56 yards and was the leading receiver with four catches for 74 yards. Quarterback Cole Bergeson completed 7 of 9 passes for 103 yards and 2 TDs and rushed for 12 yards and a TD. In total, the Comets gained 150 yards through the air and 172 yards on the ground.
On the defensive side, Jacob Scrabeck was the leading tackler with eight, York had seven, including a sack and a fumble recovery. Martinez also had 7 tackles.
“I was really impressed with our defense. We kept their runners contained and our boys made some fine tackles,” said Eaton. “All in all, it was a great effort. This is the third game in a row we’ve put over 300 yards in the books and, once again, were able to get some good playing time for every member of the team.”
On Saturday afternoon Oct. 4, the Comets will travel to Taholah for a game that was originally scheduled to be played against Portland Lutheran. However, the private school has since cancelled their season due to not having enough players.
Instead, Naelle will face a team that has been the center of small-school football controversy for the last few years.
A Jan. 2013 article in the Daily World of Aberdeen listed the Taholah football program as being central to the demise of the 1B Coastal League.
The league was dissolved Dec. 21 2012 after handing down a one year postseason ban to the Taholah athletic program for reasons of sportsmanship, compliance/eligibility and safety. The WIAA later overturned the ban, but upheld the disillusion of the league, ruling that the former member school were now independents.
The article details a gun threat from a Tahloah fan during one game, and an alleged incident between the Chitwins coaching staff and the field chain crew after a hard hit by a Taholah player.
The Washington School for the Deaf, whose football team regularly scheduled games with Taholah, forfeited their last three games with the Chitwins citing safety concerns.
The article also claims that multiple schools form that league had lodged email complaints about the Chitwins football team.
Each of the last two years the Chitwins have scored 100 points on an opponent — 108-42 against Kings Way Christian in 2012 and 100-6 over Muckleshoot Tribal last season. In 2008 District IV handed Taholah a brief “no home game” ban do to issues at games.
Taholah is 1-2, taking a 62-20 loss to Neah Bay — ranked second in the state — two weeks ago. Naselle will also host the Chitwins in their final regular season game on Oct. 31.
“This game at Taholah should be a good test to see where we stack up,” said Eaton.
• Through four games, the Comets have given up the fewest points (30) in the state in the 1B division.
• The Acorns, who had only 13 players suited up for the game, were down to just 11 when they scored their second TD in the fourth quarter.