FRIDAY, SEPT. 4, 2009, 11:40 P.M.

Was Wildcats-Panthers thrilling enuff?

I don't think even the teams figured on playing to a 0-0 standoff with three minutes remaining in the game, no matter how good Mead's defense is or how experienced Mt. Spokane is. Did you? Was the 7-0 thriller determined on Colten Williams' game breaking 70-plus yard run with less than 3 minutes remaining heart-stopping enough? Did you remain patient in the auto lines trying to depart Joe Albi Stadium?

Wildcats coach Mike McLaughlin envisioned overtime, but not prior to the game. "The credit goes to both defenses," he said. "They handled us up front. I thought our defense was much improved. We're very veteran, so it didn't suprise me especially against the run. I was surprised we didn't run. I expected to run the football better and protect the quarterback better."

There were issues with penalties, protection and place kicking to deal with, but a win's a win. "I'm happy for the kids and when the chips were down, Colten made a special play."

Having seen six teams, here are some observations. U-Hi has a chance to be pretty good. The line play impressed me and defense got better as the game went on. Coaches credit the two platoon system with keeping them fresh and taking control as Shadle wore down. The Highlanders have potential. If it were me I'd get the ball to the big guy (Jake Rodgers) as often as possible.  Mead has to discover offense to go with defense. Aaron Dunn could be a major target. Mt. Spokane's O struggled today on the passing end. Ferris looked good against an outmanned foe, but the running game must get better. If NC hangs together I think they can be in games.

Gonzaga Prep has tried to downplay things, but obviously the move of Bishop Sankey to fullback and size of the win over EV show they'll factor. With new coaches on staff and personnel, the Knights have their work cut out.

Here is my story from tonight:

In the age-old struggle between immoveable object against irresistible force, it took a big-name player to make a big time play.

Mt. Spokane’s Colten Williams broke a 0-0 stalemate with an amazing 72-yard scamper with fewer than three minutes to play and for the first time in five seasons, the bell tolled for the Wildcats.

They defeated rival Mead 7-0 in the Battle of the Bell at Albi Stadium Friday night when Williams raced around the right side sprinted and spun, twisting his way out of tackles and lunging into the end zone with 2:43 left in the game.

“It was a matter of a special player making a special play,” said coach Mike McLaughlin following the stunning end to a gut-wrenching defensive battle.

Anyone expecting an offensive shootout would have been disappointed, but this standoff in a mano a mano test of defenses was just as compelling.

For a half neither team could gain a toehold what with penalties, turnovers and resulting poor field position dooming both the Wildcats and Panthers.

Mt. Spokane picked up 60 yards in penalties and was picked off one time. Though eventually working its way to Mead’s 11-yard line the Wildcats came up short on a short second quarter field goal attempt.

The Panthers didn’t suffer the penalty malady but their quarterbacks were intercepted three times. On their one foray into scoring position, Mitch Kayser was ruled out of the back of the end zone on a reception of a deflected pass from Sam Baird and a 33-yard field goal sailed left late in the half.

Between them, the two teams had but 115 yards of offense.

Second half was more of the same, although the Wildcats appeared they were going to finally break through with a 7 minute, 50 second drive that consumed much of the third quarter. But the 62-yard drive stalled at the 9-yard line and another chip shot field goal attempt missed.

The teams couldn’t mount much offense in the final period either until the Wildcats got the ball at their 15 with 3:31 remaining. From the 28, Williams took the toss and once he got to the corner it became a foot race and test of balance.

“I knew scoring had to open up sooner or later,” Williams said. “It happened to be me.”

His run accounted for nearly half of Mt. Spokane’s offense and Mead couldn’t muster 200 yards either as the defenses held sway.

“It was really crazy said Williams. “I didn’t expect it at all. At least we got the bell.”

That the new era for University High football under coach Bill Diedrick began with a win was no surprise. The ease and margin of victory was.

Running a new offense with precision, quarterback Tony Tabish passed the Titans to a rousing 52-7 victory over Shadle Park Friday evening in the season opener for both at Joe Albi Stadium.

The teams jockeyed early, offenses ahead of defenses, and the score was 7-7 two minutes into the second quarter. But Tabish’s quick strike ability and an offensive line that improved as game went on, asserted its will, turning a dandy into a blowout.

Starting under center, Tabish passed for 231 yards and four touchdowns beginning with a 79-yard catch and run by All-GSL receiver Aaron Blaska. Blaska had 116 yards in receptions and two scores. Tabish set up the tie-breaking score with a 56-yarder to Jacob Fry.

Such passing efficiency against a veteran secondary made it easier for the line to dominate and I-back John Wright to rush for 117 yards and two TDs. Shadle fumbled twice in its end of the field leading to two more scores as the U-Hi defense settled in.

Central Valley 28, Rogers 7: The Bears rushed for 303 yards, 237 of those by Taylor Evans who scored all four touchdowns in victory at CV. Evans carried 34 times and scored in each quarter, the Bears coming back from and early 7-0 deficit.

Gonzaga Prep 49, East Valley 3: Speedsters Bishop Sankey ran for 212 yards on 13 carries scoring twice, and Jack Bishop scored on a long run and reception as the Bullpups opened the season with an easy win at home. In his debut as quarterback starter, Shane Schmidlkofer completed both passes he threw, including the 65-yarder to Wilson.



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