Sports

Klahowya turns tables on Forks

Forks running back Joey Sallee was more than Klahowya defensive back Nic Bayard could handle as he dove in for a touchdown in the final second of the first half Saturday afternoon at Silverdale Stadium to give the Spartans a 25-0 lead. But it was Bayard and the Eagles who got the last laugh as they scored 35 unanswered points to cap off a 35-25 comeback win that was the biggest in the school’s history.  - Photo by Jesse Beals
Forks running back Joey Sallee was more than Klahowya defensive back Nic Bayard could handle as he dove in for a touchdown in the final second of the first half Saturday afternoon at Silverdale Stadium to give the Spartans a 25-0 lead. But it was Bayard and the Eagles who got the last laugh as they scored 35 unanswered points to cap off a 35-25 comeback win that was the biggest in the school’s history.
— image credit: Photo by Jesse Beals

The Klahowya Eagles weren’t quite ready to play when they took to the Silverdale Stadium turf on Saturday afternoon to play the Forks Spartans. That was evident as the visitors pulled out to a 25-0 lead by the time the halftime horn sounded.

“We made a ton of mistakes in the first half,” KSS coach Brad Hamblet said. “Our inside linebackers weren’t getting in the right position to stop the run.”

And run the Spartans did as tailback-turned quarterback Mike Foster had the Eagles defense confused with a blend of option and counter plays and deep passes. Foster scored on a 3-yard keeper, hit wideout Eric Palmer with a 40-yard pass to set up an 11-yard counter by Dustin Gaydeski, intercepted KSS starting quarterback Jesse Cooper for a 52-yard touchdown return and lateralled to Joey Sallee with 1 second left in the second quarter for a 10-yard touchdown.

“(Foster) is a good player,” Hamblet said. “We don’t see much of the option in the Nisqually League.”

To spark the offense, Hamblet brought in Nic Bayard at quarterback in the second half. On his first pass, the junior completed a pass in the endzone to Forks defensive back Ryan Hershey.

“I made a bad choice,” Bayard said. “But coach Hamblet told me to keep with it and he had faith in me.”

It would prove to be the last time the Eagles made a bad choice on offense as they scored on each of their next five posessesions to win 35-25.

After big runs by Jerid Sturmin and Shawn Squires, Bayard capped off a 56-yard drive with a touchdown with 5:36 to go in the third quarter.

Then the Spartans turned it over on downs on their own 21-yard line, giving Squires an easy first-down dash through traffic for his first touchdown of 2003.

“Our offensive line started blasting holes left and right,” Bayard said

Fatiguing in the heat and hampered by leg cramps, Foster struggled to remain in the game. He fumbled with 1:14 in the third and Cooper was there to scoop up the ball on the Eagles’ 22-yard line. Klahowya then went back to the Sturmin-Squires attack with the pair combining for 76 yards to set up a 2-yard dive for Bayard to bring the score within 25-20.

“We only had 22 suit up and 16 take the field,” Forks coach Todd Fraker. “I knew it would be an issue and I told them in the locker room at the half we needed to score more points.”

Cooper paid Foster back with an interception of his own and ran it back for 22 yards to Forks’ 18-yard line. Two runs by Sturmin, a junior, and the Eagles had a 28-25 lead on a 2-point conversion pass from Bayard to Jeff Young with just under 8 minutes left in the game.

Sturmin finished the game with 113 yards and Squires, playing his first game at running back, rushed for 114.

“I kind of liked it,” said Squires, a former fullback who played last season behind Rory Lee. Squires scored for the second time in the game on a 24-yard run with 1:14 left that put the game out of the Spartans’ reach.

“We had to figure out how to get Shawn more into the game,” Hamblet said. “And Jerid’s a bruiser and he can put a shoulder pad on people and run them over.”

Look for the Eagles to do more than 1-for-6 passing as they take on Foster at 5 p.m. on Friday at Silverdale Stadium. Hamblet said he’ll making a decision between Cooper and Bayard to start later this week, though neither one said there was a quarterback controvery.

“It’s just a friendly competition between me and Jesse,” Bayard said.

As for now, the Eagles have begun to find faith in themselves earlier than many thought they would.

“This win was a huge thing for these kids,” Hamblet said. “They had some things to answer for and they did that themselves in the second half. That game was the greatest comeback in Klahowya football history.”

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