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Enumclaw Football: Team narrowly defeats Rams
Enumclaw High's Friday night trip to the historic Stadium High field to lock horns with the Class 4A Wilson High Rams wasn't very pretty.
The Hornets emerged victorious in their season opener, though, stinging a heavily-favored Wilson crew 17-16 when junior kicker Andy Holdener lagged through a 20-yard field goal with 10 seconds remaining in the sloppily played affair.
"People kept telling me after the game that a win by any other name would have smelled as sweet," Enumclaw coach and English teacher Don Bartel said. "I'm not buying that, though, because we really did dodge a bullet. We made a lot of mistakes and we aren't used to going up against teams that big."
One of Wilson's big stoppers was 6-foot, 3-inch, 250-pound senior defensive tackle Xavier Cooper.
"Our O-linemen helped one another out in the second half and when we began to run away from Cooper, we had far more success," Bartel said. "I was proud of the fact that we were able to run 75 offensive plays in the contest and rolled up 350 total yards offensively."
Conditioning worked in Enumclaw's favor as, by the end of the game, Wilson's defensive linemen appeared to have run out of gas. Bartel's strategy was to have quarterback Riley Carel keep handing off to Andrew Gamblin and run straight at the winded linemen.
Enumclaw broke the scoring ice nine minutes into the first quarter as Gamblin, who ran the ball 21 times for 90 yards, followed the escort of his linemen and plowed his way to paydirt from one yard out. Holdener added the extra-point kick.
Wilson answered with a touchdown of its own midway through the second quarter to knot the score. Wilson tacked on two more points with a safety after a snap sailed over the head of Enumclaw's punter, who outraced the Rams to the end zone and pounced on the ball.
The Rams' senior running back Louis Davis Jr., who rolled up close to 150 yards in the battle on 20 carries, then galloped down the right sideline for a 60-yard touchdown jaunt, making the score 16-7 after the extra point split the uprights.
With 4:35 remaining in the grid war, Enumclaw tightened things up a little when Carel completed a 10-yard TD aerial to a diving Joe Cerne; after Holdener kicked the PAT, the score was 16-14 in favor of Wilson.
After Wilson had what could have been the winning touchdown called back with 3 minutes left in the game, Enumclaw took over possession at its own 35-yard line. The Hornets marched nearly the length of the field, setting up Holdener's game-winning kick.
Enumclaw now has a week to iron out some of the wrinkles that were exposed during the Wilson game and put together a game plan for its next road opponent, Franklin Pierce. The Cardinals fell Friday 41-18 at White River.
To comment on this story, view it on-line at www.courierherald.com. Reach John Leggett at email@example.com or 360-802-8207.