Sequim Wolves sophomore quarterback Kobe Applegate throws a pass in the first quarter of the Wolves’ 38-21 loss to the Lakewood Cougars in the 2A state playoffs on Nov. 15. Applegate was forced to start the game due to a knee injury suffered by Taig Wiker, but responded with a touchdown pass on the Wolves’ opening drive of the game. Sequim Gazette photo by Conor Dowley

Sequim Wolves sophomore quarterback Kobe Applegate throws a pass in the first quarter of the Wolves’ 38-21 loss to the Lakewood Cougars in the 2A state playoffs on Nov. 15. Applegate was forced to start the game due to a knee injury suffered by Taig Wiker, but responded with a touchdown pass on the Wolves’ opening drive of the game. Sequim Gazette photo by Conor Dowley

Football state playoffs: Cougars knock out Wolves

With Taig Wiker sidelined by injury, Wolves fall 38-12

Sequim’s season has come to an end after a 38-21 loss to the Lakewood Cougars on Nov. 15, in the first round of the 2A state 2A playoffs.

With Sequim stars Taig Wiker and Michael Young out with knee injuries, Lakewood’s high-powered offense got off to a fast start in the game, with big plays from star quarterback Jared Taylor and running back Landen Pruitt carving up the Wolves’ defense early, with touchdowns on each of the Cougars’ four first-half drives.

Taylor threw three touchdowns to wide receiver Carson Chrisman in the first half and ran for one of his own as the Cougars dominated from the start.

Sequim sophomore backup quarterback Kobe Applegate had a strong start to the game himself, completing four passes on the Wolves’ opening drive en route to a four-yard touchdown pass to Isaiah Moore to keep Sequim close after the Cougars scored just a few plays into the first drive of the game.

But with Wiker sidelined by a setback with his previous left knee injury, the Wolves’ offense was limited in their options, allowing Lakewood to focus on shutting down the run game of Walker Ward and forcing a Applegate to make the plays from the pocket.

Unfortunately for the Wolves and their fans who traveled to the game, that didn’t happen.

After the first quarter score, Sequim didn’t get on the scoreboard again until the late fourth quarter, while it wasn’t until late in the third quarter before the Wolves were able to get a stop on the Cougars’ offense.

To counteract the disparity, Sequim looked to control the clock as Applegate bled the play clock before calling for a snap — a change from the Wolves’ usual breakneck tempo.

“If we’re gonna go toe-to-toe with a heavyweight, we wanna go one round,” Sequim coach Erik Wiker said. “We don’t want to go three rounds. We wanna go one round and maybe we get a lucky shot, they don’t get as many shots in. It was definitely deliberate. It keeps their playmakers off the field.”

The injuries to Wiker — who re-injured the same left knee he’s been struggling with for much of the season against River Ridge — and Young were more keenly felt in this game than in previous contests that the pair had missed, particularly on defense, where the team’s lack of depth was starkly apparent.

“We were missing Taig and Michael as much on defense,” Wiker said. “Edge protect on the run (and pass) coverage, everything. Taig’s the (Olympic League) MVP of offense but he’s that kind of player on defense in our league.

“And Michael missed three or four games but he was all-league at (wide receiver and defensive back).”

Their absence forced Garrett Hoesel, a cornerback, to play safety while Hayden Eaton and freshman Brett Mote started at corner.

“(Hoesel) was in his first week at safety,” Wiker said, “and we had (two guys) who didn’t play very much at corner. They played fairly well, but with nobody in the right position for that makes it tough in a playoff game against a good team.”

One of the few bright spots for the Wolves against Lakewood was Ward, who ran for 168 yards and a touchdown on a season-high 34 carries. Most of his yardage came in the second half but for significant stretches of the game Ward paced the Wolves’ offense, picking up first downs and extend drives.

Even with the Lakewood defense focused on stopping him, Ward regularly managed to force his way to gains of three or four yards to keep the ball moving.

“(Ward) was great today,” Wiker said. “He’s a kid who struggled in school … and really turned around. He’s one of our best kids, one of our most coachable kids.

“He runs with everything he has, and it’s a testimony to his turnaround and everything he’s done.”

All-league honors

Taig Wiker was named the Olympic League offensive MVP, Michael Young was named to the first-team offense and defense, and the Wolves had six other representations on the Olympic League all-league first and second teams for the 2019 football season.

Wiker spent his first season as the Wolves’ quarterback, and threw for 1,155 yards with 13 touchdowns and 5 interceptions, and ran for 440 yards and 13 touchdowns.

Young, who made the first team offense as a receiver and the first team defense as a cornerback, caught 23 passes for 432 yards and six touchdowns, and ran for 88 yards and 2 touchdowns in just seven games, missing one game via suspension and three more with a knee injury at the end of the season.

Linebacker Isaiah Cowan, who was called out repeatedly this season by head coach Erik Wiker as probably the best and most improved inside linebacker in the league, and lineman Austin Newton were named to the first-team defense, while running back Walker Ward made the second-team offense and wide receiver/defensive back Garrett Hoesel made the second-team defense.

Despite having a dominant offensive and defensive line for much of the season, the Wolves had just one other representative on the all-league team, with Brandon Barnett being named to the second-team offensive line and the second-team long snapper.

Head coach Erik Wiker was pleased for his players honored, but did not seem happy about the overall selection process.

“There’s a lot of political stuff in this,” Wiker said when asked about the all-league teams.

“Our defense shut (everyone) down, but we only get four guys there while (North Kitsap) gets seven, and they weren’t the dominant defense they used to be.”

Wiker seemed particularly frustrated with his offensive and defensive lines having minimal representation, saying that their successes were what made the rest of the Wolves’ season possible.

“Without (Barnett) and Caleb (Pozernick) and everyone else on that line, Taig isn’t the offensive MVP and Walker doesn’t run for a thousand yards,” he said. “And our defense stuffed everybody.”

Lakewood Cougars quarterback Jared Taylor throws on the run with Sequim Wolves defensive linemen Mitchell Horton (second from right) and Austin Newton (right) in pursuit during the second quarter of the Cougars’ 38-12 win over the Wolves in the 2A state playoffs on Nov. 15. Sequim Gazette photo by Conor Dowley

Lakewood Cougars quarterback Jared Taylor throws on the run with Sequim Wolves defensive linemen Mitchell Horton (second from right) and Austin Newton (right) in pursuit during the second quarter of the Cougars’ 38-12 win over the Wolves in the 2A state playoffs on Nov. 15. Sequim Gazette photo by Conor Dowley

Sequim Wolves running back Walker Ward looks for space in the first quarter against the Lakewood Cougars in the 2A state playoffs on Nov. 15. Ward ran for 168 yards and a touchdown on the night, but the Wolves lost 38-12. Sequim Gazette photo by Conor Dowley

Sequim Wolves running back Walker Ward looks for space in the first quarter against the Lakewood Cougars in the 2A state playoffs on Nov. 15. Ward ran for 168 yards and a touchdown on the night, but the Wolves lost 38-12. Sequim Gazette photo by Conor Dowley

Sequim Wolves running back Walker Ward looks for space in the first quarter against the Lakewood Cougars in the 2A state playoffs on Nov. 15. Ward ran for 168 yards and a touchdown on the night, but the Wolves lost 38-12. Sequim Gazette photo by Conor Dowley

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