A 15-month layoff, a bigger school on the other side and opening game jitters didn’t seem to slow down these Wolves.
Walker Ward led a run-heavy Sequim attack while the defense pounced on a series of errors for seven takeaways in Sequim’s 38-0 rout of the visiting 3A Bainbridge Spartans on Feb. 20.
Ward racked up 197 yards and two scores on 31 carries, and Isaiah Cowan added touchdowns on both sides of the ball to turn what was a scoreless game after one quarter into a blowout.
“I knew we were going to go heavy on (the run),” Sequim head coach Erik Wiker said. “I thought our more experienced offensive line was going to be more experienced than them. I thought their skill kids were going to out skill us, so we wanted to play them where we were good at.”
With expected starting quarterback Taig Wiker on the sidelines for the opener (team rules violation), the Wolves went with backup Kobe Applegate, who threw just eight passes. The Spartans, however, couldn’t find answers for Ward, who bullied his was for 5- and 6-yards against to fuel the SHS offense early on.
“I think the O-line won the game … making it easy for everybody to run the ball,” Ward said.
“The D-line won the game (too), especially getting those picks,” he said.
The Wolves consistently pressured Spartan quarterback Gabriel Todd, forcing several incompletions and four drive-killing interceptions. Two of those were by sophomore Isaiah Moore, including a second quarter interception to preserve a Sequim 12-0 lead.
Cowan had a key interception about a minute before that, reading Todd’s throw near midfield and swiping the pass for a 48-yard touchdown.
“Kind of a lifelong dream of mine to get a pick-six,” Cowan said.
Early stops key
After the teams opened with short drives, Bainbridge looked on the verge of opening the scoring with a 73-yard drive that brought them to first-and-goal from the Sequim 1-yard-line. A Spartan holding penalty and pair of incompletions left Bainbridge with a field goal try, which the Wolves swatted away.
“They were killing themselves (with penalties and turnovers),” Wiker said.
Sequim got on the board early in the second quarter, going to Ward for nine consecutive carries that ended in a 1-yard plunge and 6-0 lead.
Cowan followed with his pick-six for a 12-0 advantage, and, set up by Moore’s score-killing interception, the Wolves added an 80-yard drive just before halftime. Applegate found senior receiver Michael Young for a 33-yard pass play, and Ward punctuated the drive with a 4-yard score and two-point conversion for a 20-0 halftime lead.
Cowan opened the second half scoring with a 2-yard romp and, following another Moore interception, the Wolves found paydirt again with a jet sweep that Young took 40 yards to the end zone. Sequim led 32-0.
Garrett Hoesel, another senior receiver, added a 76-yard touchdown carry on a jet sweep early in the fourth quarter to cap the day’s scoring.
“I do them to keep them honest,” Wiker said. “That was really nice, especially when they have good skill kids who are fast out there. That was the best our jets have looked.”
Cowan set up Hoesel’s run when he forced a Spartan quarterback fumble on a blitz. The senior celebrated a bit early after his sack, not realizing the ball was on the ground; the Wolves gained possession anyway.
“I thought I felt the ball in his hands, still. But we still recovered it,” Cowan said.
Bainbridge’s Spartans, whom Sequim hadn’t played since the 2005 season, came into the game with one game already under their collective belt — a 39-18 win over Shelton on Feb. 16.
But the experience that seemed to matter on Saturday, Wiker said, was Sequim’s senior class-heavy lineup. Despite giving up about 240 yards passing, the Wolves held Bainbridge to just 27 yards rushing on 15 carries.
“When it all comes down to it, more than most teams, we have the same team back,” Wiker said. “With no offseason, COVID, being a year and a half (apart from their last game) … even though they forget everything, they are still more comfortable together and teamwork (is) everything.”
Those first-game nerves seemed to dissipate quickly for Cowan.
“I always have been nervous (before games) but once you get that first hit it’s all downhill from there,” he said.
Sequim takes on North Kitsap in Poulsbo on Saturday, Feb. 27, in a rematch of league powerhouses.
The Vikings edged Sequim 16-8 last season, giving them an edge for league title; Sequim finished 5-1 in league play for second place, and earned a spot in the state 2A tourney.
Wiker said he expects Taig Wiker, the 2019 Olympic League Offensive MVP, to be available for the game.
Check out live and recorded SHS games online at youtube.com/channel/UCINap3k9WmRyyF3iKPN4-dQ.