EHS FOOTBALL: Hornets edge Franklin Pierce

The Enumclaw High football squad traveled for the second week in a row, this time to Franklin Pierce’s field nestled in Tacoma’s Midland area and is now an unblemished 2-0 after trimming the Cardinals’ tail feathers 9-6.

The contest saw an inexperienced FPHS crew flagged for 18 penalties that amounted to more than 100 yards marched off against it.

“I stopped counting after the 15th penalty was called against us,” said Franklin Pierce coach Howard Lutton shaking his head in anguish. Lutton is the dean of South Puget Sound League 3A coaches with 21 years under his belt and had a contingent advance to the state semifinals in 2007.

“The Cardinals haven’t been in this position (0-2) in a ton of years,” Lutton said. “It just seemed like every time we’d get something going on offense, we’d get a delay of game penalty or some other darn thing to mess up any momentum we had going our way.

“That was the crux of the issue as far as us scoring only that one time against Enumclaw. You can’t take anything away from EHS though. The head coach, Don Bartel, has done a great job with those kids. They have a very well balanced offensive attack and a stingy defense,” lauded Lutton.

In Franklin Pierce’s initial offensive series the Hornets defense appeared more porous than potent as the Redbird offensive unit moved down the field like a hot knife through soft butter.

EHS bent and didn’t break, as the Cardinal miscues began to set in and the drive sputtered. Enumclaw finally erased the goose egg on the guest’s side of the scoreboard midway through the second quarter. Junior running back Andy Holdener, who averaged seven yards a carry in the low-scoring affair, capped off a sustained Hornet drive with a 3-yard unencumbered dash up the middle. He looked like he’d been shot out of a cannon.

“The reason it looked like that, was because while Andy was expecting the usual resistance from the defenders, nobody touched him,” Bartel said. =“We’ve been asking those three linemen to wall off the defensive surge like that and they finally did it to perfection. Ideally, the big guys up front on the right side of the O-line – Jeff Wiltse, Kevin Knapp and Markus Hammond – are supposed to all come off the ball together and provide a wall of blockage for the RB to run past. They ran the play efficiently and we notched our only TD of the contest.

“It’s fun for everybody when they do it just how we drew it up and practiced it.”

After Holdener, who is also the Hornets’ kicker, bolted to glory ground for six points, he also booted the extra point through the uprights, putting EHS out front 7-0.

Enumclaw’s only other points came in the middle of the third period when the two team’s quarterbacks traded interceptions, but the Hornets got the better end of the deal, as Franklin Pierce’s shrimpy 5-foot-5 Jamar Murray leaped high in the air for an interception, but it would have been more prudent had he simply deflected the ball harmlessly to the ground, because the pilferage left the Cards on their own 5-yard line.

With its back to the wall, FPHS had its only muffed exchange from center of the evening, Cardinal QB Bradley Wheeler fell on the loose pigskin that was rolling around in FP’s end zone and the referee made the shape of the spearhead with his arms, signifying a two-point safety for Enumclaw.

Franklin Pierce mounted a 15-play scoring drive that ate up half of the fourth period. With six minutes remaining in the game the Cards hit pay dirt when Wheeler called his own number, tucked the ball under his arm and put the exclamation point on the endeavor, with a burst up the gut for six. The Redbirds attempted the two-point conversion, but a determined Enumclaw defense slammed the door shut, leaving the score 9-6.

Senior Enumclaw running back Andrew Gamblin, who toted the ball 17 times on the night for 91 yards, played a big role in helping the Hornets run out the game’s remaining six minutes.

In what was perhaps the game’s defining moment, Enumclaw had a fourth-and-one situation on the Cards’ 40-yard line with 3 minutes, 56 seconds remaining on the clock and with the idea in mind of maintaining possession, they went for it. Gamblin took the hand-off, deftly ducked a linebacker who had launched himself at the sturdily built Enumclaw runner, then followed a pancake block furnished by senior left offensive tackle Jordan Grant for the first down yardage.

Enumclaw will host Sumner at 7 p.m. Friday at Pete’s Pool.

To comment on this story view it on-line at Reach John Leggett at or 360-802-8207.

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