The 61st rivalry rendezvous between White River and Enumclaw Friday evening at Pete’s Pool Field wasn’t exactly filled with offensive fireworks.
But the Enumclaw High Hornets, who had to win to make it to the playoffs or be done for the season, came to life in the second half, riding a determined defense and the legs of kicker/running back Andy Holdener to a 10-0 victory.
“I told the guys in the locker room at intermission that they had 24 minutes left to assert themselves and claim this huge victory,” Enumclaw mentor Don Bartel said.
The win allowed Enumclaw to continue its season in earnest while White River packs up its pads after showing great improvement over the 2008 season.
Bartel’s bunch finished at 6-2 in South Puget Sound League 3A play to wrap up third place and secure a first round postseason road tilt against the Capital Cougars Game time is 7 p.m. Saturday at Ingersoll Stadium in Olympia.
Friday, the bewildered fans from either side of the bridge were beginning to wonder if either set of Hornets could score, as the closest either team got to putting up points in the first half were two long field goal attempts by White River’s senior kicker Kevin Moore. His second attempt, from 45 yards, was on target but fell short.
In the second half it was more of the same as both squads ran between the muddy twenties. The only drive that was even close was when Enumclaw put together a march just after half time that gobbled nearly eight minutes of the third stanza clock. The EHS Hornets came up empty, failing on fourth down rather than opting for a field goal attempt.
The same opportunity presented itself with four minutes remaining. A forceful Plateau breeze suddenly began to blow at Enumclaw’s back and Bartel took that as an omen, calling upon the Holdener’s right leg.
The field goal was good and Enumclaw had finally broken the scoreless tie in the one of the lowest-scoring clashes in the rich history of the Hornet-Hornet rivalry.
“Our season was hanging in the balance, but when you’re a kicker you can’t start dwelling on how important the actual field goal is,” offered Holdener as he held the trophy after the game. “You just see yourself booting it through the uprights in your mind’s eye like you’ve done 100 times in practice. Then you block out everything else and leg it through there.”
“I didn’t even know how far it was and I didn’t care,” Bartel said. “Andy had been kicking the ball into the end zone all night long, so I had faith in his ability to kick one through from a relatively short distance.”
Bartel said it was his defense that deserved most of the credit for the win, limiting White River team to just 70 yards of total offense.
When White River was fighting for the lead, EHS defensive back Joe Cerne gathered in his second interception of the evening and nearly returned it for a score, but a WRHS tackler pushed him out of bounds just before he could reach paydirt .
With less than a minute remaining, Andrew Gamblin smashed his way into the end zone for the game’s only touchdown. The advantage moved to 10-0 after Holdener banged the extra-point kick through the uprights.
“People were probably wondering why we didn’t just take a knee and call it good with a 3-0 triumph,” remarked Bartel in the joyous winning locker room after the game. He said the decision stemmed from White River’s entire team running right through the middle of Enumclaw’s warm ups before the game began, “to try and show us up.
“That irritated the team and myself, because that showed no respect on their part. You don’t do that kind of unsportsmanlike stuff in our house and get away with it,” he said.