Unconventional plays turned in Sequim’s favor on Friday 13th as the Wolves overtook the Olympic Trojans at Homecoming.
Gavin Velarde yet again led the Wolves (2-2 in the Olympic League, 4-3 overall) with two touchdowns in the 31-18 win.
One of his biggest plays came on the annual Towel Play where players reveal the play at the Homecoming assembly and wave towels at the game to let the audience know what to expect.
Sequim coach Erik Wiker said the play was similar to their extra point attempts where the linemen set on one side of the field but the center and two receivers become eligible.
“In the open field it’s way different, and we’ve never thrown to the guy who caught it,” he said.
Freshman receiver Michael Young caught the 86-yard pass from Velarde and brought it to the 4-yard line setting up a touchdown throw from quarterback Riley Cowan to receiver Taig Wiker.
The second quarter touchdown was one of six lead changes through late in the second half.
Homecoming opened in unconventional fashion too.
Back-to-back penalties pushed Olympic back to their own 3-yard line, which led the Wolves to push down hard for a safety at 6:56 when the Trojans’ Malcolm Dewalt and Ezekial Gillick fumbled a hand-off.
The Wolves’ Byron Rice followed the safety with a field goal to go up by five after multiple strong rushes from Cowan, Tyler Conn and Velarde.
Olympic’s Dewalt made up for the earlier fumble with a 47-yard touchdown run halfway through the second quarter to give the Trojans a 6-5 lead.
Following the Towel Play, both Sequim and Olympic threw back-to-back interceptions with less than two minutes to go in the first half.
Cowan’s interception at the 6-yard line led to a 1-yard rush by running back Mason Quitevis and Olympic to go up 12-11. Their two-point run conversion failed.
Second half surge
In the second half, Sequim opened with a strong series capped off by a 4-yard touchdown run by Cowan to go up 17-12 three minutes in.
The Trojans responded with a strong series of their own leading to another touchdown by Quitevis from 11 yards out about halfway through the third. But the spread stayed at one, 18-17, following another failed conversion. On the game, the teams combined to fail on five two-point conversions.
Following an Olympic punt with about 2 minutes to play, Velarde brought the ball to the Trojan’s 31-yard line. Conn rushed 11 yards on his first attempt setting up a Cowan to Nate Despain pass to the 9-yard line. Velarde tallied nine yards in two rushes including a 3-yard touchdown run and Rice kicked the extra point for the Wolves to go up 24-18.
The Trojans threatened to score again rushing into Sequim’s territory but a rush by Dewalt for a loss of 6 and a holding call on Olympic came right before a fumble recovery by Taig Wiker with 9:05 to play when the Trojans attempted to lateral the ball.
On the next possession, Cowan had a touchdown pass to Kyler Rollness called back for a holding call setting up third-and-20. Cowan connected to Velarde to make it fourth-and-5, but an offsides penalty added five more yards. Sequim’s coaches opted to go for it and another Cowan-Velarde connection gave the Wolves a first down. Two plays later, Velarde ran it in from 16 yards out for the 30-18 lead.
Following Sequim’s extra point, Olympic turned it over on downs with less than 3 minutes to play leading Sequim to run the clock out.
On the game, the Wolves brought in 351 yards in offense led by 101 yards from Cowan in the air on 12 of 21 passing and 40 yards on the ground. Conn also rushed for 66 yards and Velarde 51 yards.
Sequim’s Johnnie Young, an offensive lineman and linebacker, said this was likely the Wolves’ best game running the ball.
“They ran downhill the entire game,” he said.
Wiker said he and other coaches emphasized their backs target the gaps more. He also complimented Cowan’s growing field awareness.
“He’s a passer who always passed,” he said. “Last year he would never run, but we told him the more you run, the more (the defense) will come up and more people will become open. He’s getting smarter and realizing moving the chains is an important part of the game.”
Young said Sequim’s defense stepped up in the second half too.
“Everyone was flying across the field making plays and tackles,” he said.
The Wolves continue to battle penalties though with nine for 65 yards this game.
Wiker said they’re still trying players at different positions due to depth issues at certain spots.
However, Young said it comes down to technical issues and not penalties like personal fouls. “It’s things we can clean up in practice,” he said.
Wiker commended his team saying they do play with a lot of class.
After a big loss to Montensano on Sept. 8, Young said teammates began “buying into” the team’s system.
“Our practices have gotten so much better since the beginning of the year,” he said. “That’s one thing we’ve been stressing.”
Sequim moves into a tie for third place with Port Angeles (2-2, 3-4) whom they face at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 20, for the Rainshadow Rumble at PA’s Civic Field. Last season, Sequim routed the Roughriders 49-9 en route to a district play-in game against Eatonville.
Wiker said they’ll need to win at least one of the next two to take the third and final seed to districts.
With it being a rivalry game though, players aren’t looking down at PA.
“It’s always fun to play against people you know,” Young said.
“Everyone plays with a chip on their shoulder. Everyone hits harder, runs faster.”
Wiker said he’s looking to his defense to step up and for the running game to continue in the final two regular season games including a season-ending home game against Kingston (0-4, 0-7) on Oct. 27.
“We have a passing game but if we have a running game that’s going to take us to the next level,” he said.
Five of the 10 teams that qualify from the Olympic and South Puget Sound League to districts advance to the state 2A tournament. With a No. 3 seed, Sequim would play a road game on Nov. 3 or 4 against the SPSL’s No. 2 team.
Reach Matthew Nash at firstname.lastname@example.org.