Sequim picks off Eagles’ win

Sequim lineman Josh Hegberg dives and latches onto the jersey of Klahowya quarterback Danny Zimny for what would be one of two Wolves’ sacks on the day. Klahowya lost 21-17 when Sequim’s Chris Riggs returned an interception 98 yards for a touchdown late in the fourth quarter Friday. - Photo by Aaron Managhan
Sequim lineman Josh Hegberg dives and latches onto the jersey of Klahowya quarterback Danny Zimny for what would be one of two Wolves’ sacks on the day. Klahowya lost 21-17 when Sequim’s Chris Riggs returned an interception 98 yards for a touchdown late in the fourth quarter Friday.
— image credit: Photo by Aaron Managhan

If Brad Hamblet could go back and do it differently, he would.

The Klahowya football coach strayed from the team’s run-first philosophy in calling for a passing play facing fourth-and-goal on the 2-yard line against Sequim Friday at Silverdale Stadium.

Ninety-eight yards later, Hamblet saw his squad go from nearly adding to a 17-14 lead to trailing 21-17, as the Danny Zimny pass, intended for Andre Moore, was intercepted by Sequim’s Chris Riggs, who returned the pick 98 yards for the eventual game-winning touchdown.

“The second half was ours,” Hamblet said. “I’d like to have that call back. That was the play.”

Hamblet made sure to point out the error was in the play calling, not in the players themselves, particularly Zimny, who looked to be gaining more confidence throwing the ball before the final pick.

“We put him in a tough situation,” Hamblet said. “But he’s a tough kid. It’s just one of those things that happened.”

The Eagles (2-2) got on the board first when Cody Hertenstein, part of the Eagles running attack as well, got a big pick of his own, nabbing a Nic Thacker pass and sprinting 45 yards to the end zone for the score.

Klahowya still had a shot, as an onside kick by Sequim was recovered illegally by the Wolves. But facing fourth-and-7 with just under 4 minutes remaining, Zimny was sacked by Sequim lineman Jared Williams for a turnover on downs. Sequim ran out the remainder of the clock.

“When you’re on the 2-yard line and the guy runs it all the way back, that is a back breaker,” Hamblet said.

The Wolves (2-2) came out running the ball strong afterward, getting touchdown scampers of 19 and 27 yards in the first and second quarters respectively from Kincaid Nichols, who finished with 58 yards on six carries. But it was Riggs who provided the top offensive threat, racking up a game-high 144 yards on 25 carries.

Trailing 14-7, the Eagles had a shot to knot things up at the half.

After marching downfield to the Sequim 13-yard line, Zimny fired a pass to fellow Eagle Cody Shaputis, who was left all alone over the middle in the end zone. But the pass was a little behind Shaputis, who got his hands on it but couldn’t pull it in.

John McLaughlin came in and drilled a 32-yard field goal to make it 14-10 Sequim with about 3 minutes left. That score would hold into the half.

Klahowya emerged from halftime with a renewed sense of urgency that paid off quickly.

Riggs, who picked up 101 of his yards in the first half, got stuffed for losses of 3 and 2 yards to open the third quarter. Eagles linebacker and fullback Jeremy Alder found holes in the Wolves’ offensive line to make both hits. After Nichols picked up 4 yards on third down, Sequim brought out the punt team to face a fourth-and-6 from their own 37-yard line.

Eagle Hertenstein showed why he’s the team’s best block specialist, laying out to swat the punt by Sequim’s Keller Batson, who recovered the ball for a loss of 9 yards on the play.

On the ensuing play, Zimny found Moore deep for a 28-yard touchdown strike.

“We actually just did the same things, but with a little more intensity,” Hamblet said of his team in the second half. “The kids picked it up and did a great job.”

That score gave the Eagles the 17-14 lead.

“That’s it. That’s the hard part,” Hamblet said. “We just flat out out-played them in the second half.”

And while a number of things could have gone differently, Hamblet said it all came back to his call on the goalline.

“What I say is as a coach, you put people in certain situations,” he said. “But I’d like to have that call back. We’re a running team. I shouldn’t have gone away from that.”

While Sequim is an Olympic League opponent for the Eagles, the game was a non-league contest. With Kingston joining the Oly League’s 2A ranks this season, each team plays each other just once for a total of four league games. As a result, Hamblet said while the sting of defeat would take some time to wear off, there were some positives out of the game.

“It’s nice to know it’s non-league,” Hamblet said. “The next one is the one that counts. One thing’s for sure. We know we can play with them. It hasn’t always been that way in the past.”

Moore finished with 127 yards on 20 carries for the Eagles, adding two receptions for 40 yards and a score. Defensively he was strong as well, getting an interception of his own to go with a sack.

Hertenstein, however, picked up just 26 yards on 12 carries as Sequim keyed up on the run. Alder finished with 20 yards on five rushes.

Hamblet said the team will do what it can to put the disappointing loss in the rearview.

“Like I told the kids, we won’t even worry about these guys (right now),” he said. “Next time, it could be a big game. I hope it’s a big game. But we have to take care of business prior to that.”

That means bouncing back Friday when the Eagles travel to Port Townsend for a 7 p.m. contest with the Redskins (2-2), who fell in a non-league game to Union 41-12.

“It will be hard,” Hamblet said. “But we’ll take a look at ourselves on film, look at Port Townsend. Just try to get the guys to focus on that team only. But that’s not an easy task to do.”

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