The Wolves braved wet and rainy conditions to beat the Port Angeles Roughriders 26-0 on Oct. 18 and win their fifth consecutive Rainshadow Rumble.
Sequim exploded to an early lead, scoring four times in the first half before the weather forced both teams to lean more on the run in the second half.
Taig Wiker scored off a two yard touchdown run on the Wolves’ opening drive of the game and added a second rushing touchdown in the first quarter with a hard-nosed 10 yard run through the Port Angeles defense.
The first touchdown was set up by a 45-yard catch-and-run off a corner route by Michael Young, breaking several tackles and dragging PA defenders the last 10 yards or so of the play — a familiar sight throughout the game.
Wiker added a passing touchdown on a 20-yard toss to Garrett Hoesel in the second quarter that saw the junior receiver drag two defenders into the end zone, while Walker Ward finished the scoring before halftime with a 4-yard scoring run into the end zone.
Ward had an impressive performance with 21 carries for 128 yards, regularly chewing up chunks of yardage while shedding would-be tackles.
Hoesel nearly added another touchdown just after halftime with a nice catch-and-run into traffic on the baseball diamond end of Civic Field; the play was ultimately called back by a penalty.
It was a sign of the kind of high work rate the Wolves had all night long, frequently out-working the Roughriders to create plays on offense and stop them cold on defense.
“Yes, (we out-worked Port Angeles) both offensively and defensively,” Wolves coach Erik Wiker said. “If you look at them on a one-on-one (matchup) across the way, I don’t think we out-athlete them all the way as bad as the score of the game actually indicated.
“I think our guys play really well together, they execute well together. They play as a unit and all do their jobs. Effort and coach-ability with these kids is real high and they try real hard because they want to be good.”
Sequim’s defense was dominant from the start of the game, though, and a seemingly different approach to their defensive line’s efforts to apply pressure kept the Roughriders’ offensive line off balance for much of the game.
Junior defensive lineman Austin Newton had a particularly big game on the defensive line, regularly getting three or four yards deep into the backfield right off the snap to blow up running plays or put pressure on Port Angeles backup quarterback Nolan Hughes to disrupt the timing of their passing game.
“I was just trying to move as quick as I can around those big guys on the line,” Newton said. “We were blitzing a lot more and mixing up how we attacked and it seemed to work.”
That defensive dominance led to four Roughrider turnovers, including a lost fumble on a bad snap and three interceptions from Hughes — picked off by Taig Wiker, Isaiah Cowan and Brett Mote.
The Wolves also had a big night on special teams, with several good returns on punts and a blocked punt when Caleb Pozernick bulldozed a Port Angeles lineman straight back into the punter; the ball was punted into the lineman’s back.
Sequim also got a lucky break on one of their own punts early in the game, with the ball accidentally getting kicked by a PA player. Hoesel recovered the ball for Sequim at the 50-yard-line, and the Wolves quickly marched down the field for their second touchdown of the night.
Young impressed again at safety, breaking up several potential big plays with his coverage skills, and seems to be getting more and more comfortable up top.
“I’ve been feeling good back there (at safety),” Young said after the game. “It’s a different perspective and that extra time can be nice.”
Erik Wiker said he pleased with Young’s play as well, though he noted that if recent starting cornerback Hayden Eaton can’t play after suffering a knee injury late in the first half that Young would have to go back to his traditional cornerback spot.
Lane Mote looks to bolster the team’s secondary when he returns next week against Hoquiam, allowing Taig Wiker to return to his own role as the starting safety after filling in for Mote at inside linebacker for the past two weeks.
Wiker also praised Cowan after the game, calling him “one of the best inside (linebackers) period.”
Cowan coupled his interception with several tackles for losses, including two consecutive tackles behind the line of scrimmage on Port Angeles’ first drive of the game for losses of four and seven yards.
On Oct. 25, Sequim turns to a game they’ve been looking forward to for much of the season, a non-league game at home against 1A powerhouse Hoquiam. The Grizzlies handed Sequim its lone regular-season loss last season, and several Wolves said both recently and over the course of the season that they’re looking forward to the game because of it.
Hoquiam battled to a state 1A tourney quarterfinal spot in 2018.
The Wolves conclude their season with a home game against Bremerton (3-1 in the Olympic League) on Nov. 1, a key game with the Knights and Wolves (4-1). Along with the North Kitsap Vikings (4-0) and the Olympic Trojans (3-1), the Wolves and Knights are fighting for the three of the league’s four state tourney playoff spots.