Orcas' offense silent in season-ending defeat

"Last Saturday's 17-7 loss to the Bellingham Eagles was a microcosm of the West Sound Orcas' 2001 season.Or, to put it another way, it was the the final chapter in The Same Old Story.The Orcas couldn't muster enough offense to beat the Northwest Football League (NWFL) playoff-bound Eagles the easy way. And when they had a chance to win the hard way, a drive-killing turnover stopped them in their tracks.No offensive clout, team president Jim Wootan said, eloquently tying a bow on both the loss and the team's sophomore season. I guess that's my biggest disappointment.The Orcas wrapped up their second season - their first full-fledged NWFL campaign following a probationary year in 2000 - with a 4-6 league mark and a 4-9 overall record. That's down from their 4-3 finish in 2000.There was no offense, and we made some huge mistakes, Wootan said of the Orcas' season-ending game against the Eagles (6-4) at Bellingham's Civic Stadium.He could've been describing the team's entire season, though. With Saturday's one touchdown, they avoided a single-digits average in scoring for the season.The team struggled at the quarterback position all season. Starter Don Purser was hampered by injuries and was inconsistent. His first replacement, Matt Gates, was lost in midseason to a concussion; the second, Robert Boyer, was playing the position for the first time since graduating from Olympic High School in 1992.We had all the other ingredients, Wootan shrugged. Our offensive line had really started to jell, and we had some guys who were ready to have great years.Wootan made special mention of running back Chris Antwine, who took over as the rushing leader when last year's offensive star, Todd Lewis, was lost to a season-cancelling injury, and wide receiver Shawn Parker.We had (the tools), Wootan said. We just couldn't get them the ball.West Sound's defense, one of the best in the league in 2000, was stung for two 50-plus yields in their first two games, against the league's top two teams - the Puget Sound Jets and Multnomah County Buccaneers, but returned to form to keep the Orcas in the rest of their games, even when the offense was sputtering.What else can I say about the defense? Wootan said. They were as strong as ever.It was a tumultuous season from the get-go, as the NWFL placed the Orcas on probation after the first game of their preseason, a 21-6 loss to the King County Jaguars that ended with what the league called a bench-clearing brawl (Wootan said the incident was overblown).The team couldn't claim success on the field or in the stands, where attendance for its seven home games hovered around 200. But Wootan said he still is proud of the entertainment package the team offered, which exceeded anything he saw at any of the road contests. He also praised the Bremerton School District, which has played host to the Orcas through their first two seasons.We put on the best show, as far as facilities and other things, said Wootan, whose game-day perks for spectators included several pre-game concerts, live singing of the national anthem and an adult cheer squad. We played two games in Oregon where they didn't even do the anthem.He said the gate, about half of what the team drew in 2000 (which included an opening-day throng of about 1,500), left him wondering about the team's place in the community - but not enough to keep him from jumping right into thinking about next year's team.The crowds were way down, he said, to the point where you ask yourself, 'Does the community care?' Breaking into a grin, he added, But I'm still gonna have 3,500 in that stadium for an Orcas game some day. "

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