NASELLE — Ethan Lindstrom passed for a touchdown and ran for five more in Naselle’s 52-8 victory over the South Bend Indians in the Friday, Sept. 6 season opener. Lindstrom ran for three first-quarter touchdowns, including a 76-yarder.
It was the first game for the Comets in their new-look offense, with Lindstrom at quarterback running the option flanked by Fa’aoso Tutu’u and Jimmy Strange. South Bend, in its first year playing eight-man football, keyed in on Strange and Tutu’u. Lindstrom, reading the defense, therefore often kept it himself, gaining 144 yards on just nine carries.
“They were trying to stop our running backs, since they knew about them, probably weren’t sure what Ethan could do since he was a receiver last year,” coach Jeff Eaton said. “Ethan had openings. On some plays, the Red Sea opened up and he went straight up the middle.”
“They seemed a bit hesitant on defense,” Lindstrom said. “Their defensive ends were susceptible to option fakes…. I have two of the fastest running backs I’ve seen. When they focused on the running backs, that gave me lots of room to run.”
Lindstrom kept them off balance. After a big gain on a sweep to Tutu’u, “I kind of knew what I’d do ahead of time” on the next play, Lindstrom said. “Their defensive end was going after Fa’aoso, a big hole opened up, and I ran through it, cut back, and scored.”
While the Comets only threw the ball three times, South Bend was not able to simply crowd the line, instead playing their free safety back on many plays in an attempt to mitigate big gains.
Tutu’u and Kolten Lindstrom, playing defensive end, were key to stopping South Bend’s attack, Eaton said.
“Our ends dissected their plays. They were running the veer option, going in between the guard and tackle a lot, so they made a lot of tackles. Once in a while they would run a sweep to the outside, but our ends were there before they could get to the next level.”
Kolten Lindstrom made 11 tackles, and Tutu’u had seven.
After first-quarter Ethan Lindstrom touchdown runs of ten and two yards, Kolten Lindstrom recovered a South Bend fumble. Ethan ran for his 76-yard score on the next play with 15 seconds remaining in the quarter.
Tutu’u added a five-yard touchdown run in the second quarter after having a longer run called back on a penalty several plays earlier. Naselle led 28-0 at halftime.
Less than a minute into the third, Lindstrom had his only pass completion, hitting Oggie Lopez for a 47-yard touchdown off play action.
“Their outside linebacker came in (on the run fake), and their free safety was in the middle of the field,” Lindstrom said. “Oggie faked a post route and kind of froze him there in the middle,” then came open in the deep corner.
Lindstrom added two more touchdown runs. Backup quarterback Warren Wirkkala had a long touchdown run called back on an illegal block. South Bend’s touchdown came on Seth Hall’s 90-yard kickoff return.
Naselle will travel to Puyallup to play Chief Leschi Friday, a 2B Pacific League team, on Sept. 13 at 7 p.m. It will be an eight-man football game. Chief Leschi beat Muckleshoot Tribal 26-22 in its opener.