A heavyweight non-league foe turned out to be a perfect postseason primer for the Wolves.
Sequim’s defense took the spotlight with a pair of goal-line stands against a stout 1A Hoquiam squad on Oct, 25, edging the visiting Grizzlies 14-12.
While the match-up didn’t mean anything in the league standings, Sequim coach Erik Wiker said it was a perfect test for what’s to come if the Wolves qualify for the postseason.
“I believe that’s the toughest team we’ve played all year, even counting the loss (to North Kitsap),” Wiker said.
“They run, the pass, they’ve got speed. They’re a playoff caliber team, (one) we don’t see very often.”
It was just the third meeting all-time between the two schools. In 1978, Hoquiam knocked the Wolves out of the state playoffs, and last season the Grizzlies edged Sequim in a 42-35 shootout — the Wolves’ only loss of the regular season on their way to a league championship.
This time around, it was a display of defensive prowess on both sides of the ball.
Down 14-6, the Grizzlies drove deep into Sequim territory to start the fourth quarter but the Sequim defense stopped Hoquiam quarterback Dane McMillan a yard short of the end zone.
Later in the quarter Hoquiam got a one-yard score from tight end Matt Brown with 5:55 on the clock, but Sequim stuffed a similar play for a two-point conversion that would have tied the game.
The Wolves (4-1 in Olympic League play, 7-1 overall) looked to run out the clock from then on but a drive stalled in Hoquiam territory. McMillan led a final Grizzly drive that spanned 71 yards on seven plays. With less than 30 seconds left, Sequim linemen forced a fumble that Taig Wiker recovered in the end zone to seal the win.
“The defense, all game long (was great) … they had to earn every bit of it,” Erik Wiker said. “That was probably the best red zone defense I’ve seen.
“I knew going into this season defense was going to be our strength.”
The Wolves had just enough offense — one touchdown in each half — to help them pull ahead.
After a forcing a three-and-out to open the game, Sequim’s junior quarterback Taig Wiker led an eight-play, 46-yard drive highlighted by a 31-yard pass to Michael Young. Wiker bullied his way into the end zone from two yards out and added a short scamper for a two-point conversion and 8-0 lead midway through the first quarter.
The teams traded possessions before Hoquiam broke through with a 13-play drive that saw two fourth-and-short conversions — including McMillan’s one-yard score. In a harbinger of a key fourth quarter stop. Sequim’s defense found a way to stuff Brown — all 6 feet 4 and 287-pounds of him — on the ensuing two-point try to keep an 8-6 lead.
It stayed that way until Sequim’s second drive of the third quarter. With about five minutes remaining in the third, Wiker rolled right and threw an arcing pass just over the outstretched hands of a Hoquiam defensive back into the hands of Young, who raced 70 yards for the score. The resulting two-point conversion failed, leaving Sequim a 14-6 lead and setting up the Wolves’ defensive heroics in the fourth quarter.
Taig Wiker finished 10-of-14 for 160 yards, a touchdown and no interceptions. He added 75 yards on 19 carries to lead the team.
Erik Wiker said he was impressed with both the arm and running ability of McMillan and the athleticism of senior wide receiver Cameron Bumstead.
“They’ve got some size (too) … they’ve got a little of everything,” the Sequim coach said.
McMillan finished 13-of-16 passing for 179 yards, with Bumstead snagging eight passes for 86 yards.
Hoquiam, a tough match-up out of the 1A Evergreen League, was a state tourney quarterfinal qualifier last year.
Sequim leaves the non-league a bit dinged up, with Young leaving the game in the second half with a knee injury. He finished the game with three catches for 102 yards and a score.
Hayden Eaton had three catches for 22 yards and Garrett Hoesel added 19 yards on two catches.
Sequim faces Bremerton (3-2 in league, 5-3 overall) at home on Nov. 1 in a game that will determine both who advances to the postseason and what seed they’ll take to districts.
League-leading North Kitsap (5-0, 6-2) takes on Olympic (4-1, 6-2) in another Nov. 1 game, with top four Olympic League teams fighting for three playoff spots.
Depending on the outcomes of those two games, Sequim could either take the Olympic League title (with a win over Bremerton and an Olympic victory over North Kitsap by three-plus points), be out of the playoffs (with a loss to Bremerton and an Olympic win over NK), or finish second or third (numerous scenarios).
The Knights are coming off a 49-14 loss to Olympic last week.
In 2018 Sequim clobbered the Knights 41-21 in Bremerton, with receiver Michael Young catching a pair of touchdown catches and finishing with 136 receiving yards. Taig Wiker had 14 carries for 52 yards and a score plus five catches for 79 yards and two touchdowns. Bremerton quarterback Abraham Parish was 7-for-20 for 200 yards, a TD and two interceptions.