Eagles pound out win against NM

 Klahowya’s Andre Moore crashes into a football referee as he is brought down by North Mason’s Charles Snow.  - Photo by Jesse Beals
Klahowya’s Andre Moore crashes into a football referee as he is brought down by North Mason’s Charles Snow.
— image credit: Photo by Jesse Beals

Klahowya wasn’t about to let this one slip away.

After getting a scare from first-year Kingston in last week’s 47-34 homecoming win, the Klahowya football team was determined to bounce back after allowing 27 second-half points to the Bucs.

Thursday against North Mason, the Eagles (5-2, 3-0) did just that, taking a 20-7 halftime lead and hanging on for a 27-14 win at Silverdale Stadium.

“We talked about the importance of this game before we came here,” Klahowya coach Brad Hamblet said. “I told them, ‘Hey, we have an opportunity for tonight.’”

That opportunity was fulfilled as Klahowya is in the driver’s seat for a shot at a state play-in game, with only Friday’s trip to Sequim standing between them.

It didn’t come easily however.

After jumping out 20-7 thanks to touchdown runs by both Andre Moore and Cody Hertenstein, plus an interception returned 30 yards by Moore for an additional score, the Eagles set out to avoid the comfort that allowed the Bucs back into the game a week earlier.

After a scoreless third quarter, North Mason (0-7, 0-2) was able to put together a 73-yard drive, capped by a 3-yard run by Rocky Guimont. The ensuing extra point made it 20-14, with the Bulldogs knocking on the door. Klahowya answered what Hamblet called the most important drive of the game.

The Eagles, starting on their own 13, continued to mix the run well, eventually driving all the way to the Bulldog 17. On fourth-and-9, the Eagles decided to go for the first down, with Moore going to the left side and cutting back up the middle for 10 yards. Hertenstein tailed off 6 more yards, setting up a 1-yard run by Moore to put the game out of reach.

But perhaps most important about the drive was the fact Klahowya ate up nearly 7 minutes of playing time.

“I’m really proud of the kids,” Hamblet said. “That fourth-quarter drive, that was critical. That ate up a bunch of time on the clock.”

It also didn’t have to be so close however.

After a pair of possession exchanges to start the second half, the Eagles were forced to punt from the Bulldog 48-yard line. The punt by Klahowya’s Randy Schmittler was a good one and Guimont fumbled the ball on the play. Moore scooped it up and ran about 15 yards into the end zone, but the play was negated as the Eagles were flagged for a line infraction.

“That was a huge one,” Hamblet said. “If we had gotten in on that one, the game would have been over. Penalties like that hurt you.”

But on senior night, it didn’t hurt the Eagles.

With just five seniors on the roster, Klahowya is one of the youngest teams in the county. But the seniors they have have been contributing.

“All the seniors have been working their tails off,” Hertenstein said. “Even if they haven’t seen a lot of playing time, it’s good to have the leadership from them.”

Defense was big again for Klahowya, as evidenced by the scoring pick.

“The first half wasn’t exactly what we wanted it to be,” Hamblet said. “But we had that interception by Andre, that was a huge thing. Whenever the defense scores points for us, it’s always good.”

But the defense did far more than just that play, coming up with three sacks and a fumble recovery by senior lineman Taylor Cole.

For the team’s seniors, Cole said it was a great way to go out.

“It was great,” Cole said. “Our last home game, a big win; it feels good. The seniors are trying to step it up, pick it up for the younger guys.”

Getting the win against North Mason made it even better, Hertenstein said.

“It’s a good one,” he said. “We’ve pretty much become rivals over the years. It feels good. We’re undefeated in league. We’re showing people who we are.”

Hamblet said the Bulldogs were a stronger team than numbers would show.

“We knew they were a tough team,” he said. “They’re a very good 0-7 team. They played us tough.”

Moore again led all Klahowya rushers, tallying up 185 yards and two rushing touchdowns on 23 carries. In addition to the pick, Moore also recorded a sack. Hertenstein was strong again, getting 88 yards and a score on 17 rushes.

Brian Stromberg was North Mason’s leading rusher, picking up 112 yards on 20 carries, including a score.

Hertenstein said the Eagles learned a lesson from last week’s win against Kingston.

“We just came out with intensity,” he said. “We played a full game. We finally put that together.”

Next up is Sequim in the Eagles’ final league game. A win and the Eagles clinch the 2A Olympic League crown, earning a spot in the state play-in game against the Nisqually League’s No. 2 team the first weekend of November.

The Eagles fell to the Wolves in a non-league home game Sept. 21, 21-17, but it was a game the Eagles thought slipped away.

“We’re looking forward to that,” Hamblet said of the rematch. “It’s what we’ve been working for. We want that rematch. We felt like we should have had them the first time.”

Having seen the Wolves once certainly helps.

“I’m thinking mainly on the line,” Cole said on adjustments the team will make. “The line’s going to have to give 100 percent on every single play. That’s the main focus.”

“We really just need to go out and play football,” Hertenstein added. “We showed them last time we can play with a tough team like Sequim. That was a tough loss.

“But I think that’ll motivate the guys.”

Hamblet said Klahowya will simply do what it can against Sequim.

“It’s a tough road game,” he said. “A long ride. On grass. But those are things we can’t control. We’ll just do the things we can control and give our best effort.”

Klahowya plays Sequim at 7 p.m. Friday on the road.

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