Sports

League champs once again

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Thirteen seconds.

That's the total time it took for Sequim kick returner Alex Gillis to race through the helplessly pliable Washington Patriot defense for 85 yards and a touchdown, just the beginning of the Wolves turning this Olympic League match-up into a farce.

Sequim scored on all eight of its drives and held the hapless visitors from Tacoma to just 23 yards of offense in the first half in a 55-21 victory Friday night.

Combined with North Mason's 38-23 home win versus Fife, Sequim secured its fifth league championship in six years.

The Wolves take their No. 1 seed to the state tourney in Silverdale on Nov. 13 or 14 for a "home" playoff game - state tourney rules mandate top-seeded teams host games upon the nearest available turf field.

Facing a team with just two wins in 2009, the Wolves made quick work of Washington, thanks in large part to Gillis and running back Travis Decker, a pair of seniors.

"The thing I've been proud of (the most) from this team all year has been playing their game every day," Sequim coach Erik Wiker said. "They play as hard against Washington and Klahowya as they did (against) North Mason. There wasn't much up and down. They are blue-collar workers all the way through."

Besides the game-opening kickoff, Gillis added a punt return for a score while Decker had 79 yards and two touchdowns - on just three carries.

Sequim quarterback Drew Rickerson barely seemed to break a sweat in going 5-of-5 passing for 97 yards and two touchdowns, one each to John Textor and Clancy Catelli.

Back-up signal-caller Frank Catelli showed off his athleticism by racking up 87 yards and a touchdown by way of the quarterback sneak.

And then there was the defense. Led by Thomas Gallagher, Jake Dethlefsen and the Catelli brothers, the Wolves' line and linebackers handcuffed the Patriot offense play after play, giving up just three first downs (two by penalty) and forcing three turnovers. They stopped Washington's eight running plays for negative yardage and another five for no gain.

Gallagher said the advice Wiker gives his players rang true Friday.

"He says that championship teams, no matter what, never play to another team's level," Gallagher recalled. "We play against ourselves."



Wolves pounce early, often

"We're going to score on this play."

The words, just passed from assistant coach Brian Savage's lips to his fellow coaches, came seconds before Decker took a handoff from Rickerson near midfield and raced 49 yards for a touchdown and a Sequim 15-0 lead in the first quarter.

That rush helped Decker break 1,000 yards for the season (he finished the game with 1,052 yards in Sequim's nine games).

Moments later, Sequim's defense forced their second Washington three-and-out and the Patriots muffed a punt. One play later, Rickerson found Textor from 3 yards out to put Sequim up 22-0 just three minutes in.

After another Patriot three-and-out, Gillis snagged a punt at the 45-yard-line and raced down the right sideline for another Sequim score.

A pair of third-down penalties gave Washington its best first-half drive a little later, but Textor stepped in front of a Joshua Kenyon pass on fourth down for his fourth interception of the season. Rickerson found Textor with a 50-yard pass on the very next play, then found Clancy Catelli wide open in the end zone for a short TD pass to make it 36-0, the final play of the first quarter.

In the second quarter, Decker added a 22-yard

touchdown rush, Frank Catelli sped 35 yards through the Patriot defense and Stephan Stilts broke into the end zone from 3 yards out to make it 55-0 at halftime.

The Wolves played mostly second-string, third-string and a host of junior varsity players in the second half. Highlights include a Winston Babb interception, a long

first-down run by Daniel Smalls and a long pass from Cody Fields to Kahn Mills that was ruled out of bounds.

Washington got a pair of touchdown runs from Sergey Yevchev and one from Elishama Weems to narrow the gap.

Friday's contest was the final home game for 13 Sequim varsity seniors, including Gallagher, who is drawing considerable interest from Division I football programs across the country.

"At the beginning it felt really special to put on these pads and step on this field - I think it provided us an extra fire," Gallagher said. "It was sad in the end. My greatest memories are playing with friends for four years ... on this field."



Trojans on tap

Sequim is slated to play either Nov. 13 or 14 in Silverdale against District I's No. 3 seed. Wolves' coaches are eyeing Burlington-Edison out of the Northwest Conference - and No. 9 team in the state 2A rankings - as Sequim's likely foe.

But first, the Wolves get their final playoff warm-up when they travel to Fife on Friday evening.

The Trojans (4-2 in league, 5-4 overall) are coming off a 15-point loss at North Mason.

Last season, Sequim topped Fife 35-22 at home but lost starting quarterback Drew Rickerson to an injury near the end of the contest, the final game before the state playoffs.

With that in mind, the Sequim coach admitted he's preparing to protect his starters.

"I've contemplated (keeping the starters in) a half or a quarter," Wiker said. "It depends on the game. If they (Fife players) are taking cheap shots, we'll pull them out earlier."

Sequim is 51-13 in Wiker's six-year tenure.

The Sequim coach credited his players and coaching staff for the success, a run unlike any in the Sequim football program's history.

"It starts out with high expectations and hard work: those two, together," Wiker said. "You expect to do great."

Wiker recalled a conversation with a player's parent after a successful season a few years back. The parent asked what the Sequim coach expected the next season and he replied 8-2 or better.

"Don't you just want a winning season?" the parent asked.

"Because that's kind of what was expected before," Wiker said. "That's not what I expect. I expect what we do now."



Reach Michael Dashiell at miked@sequimgazette.com.

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