RICHLAND – Hanford football coach Rob Oram had no trouble assessing his team’s 48-14 loss to Greater Spokane League champion Mt. Spokane in the first round of the State 3A football playoffs at Fran Rish Stadium Friday night.
“Mt. Spokane has excellent skill players who make plays,”Oram said. “It seems so simple, but that’s it.”
Despite the loss, Oram took solace in the fact that this year’s Hanford team was still playing on the second weekend of November. The Falcons finish the season 4-7, but can claim a regional playoff win against East Valley last week and a game effort against a big, strong, talented Mt. Spokane team last night.
“The nice thing about making the playoffs is that you get one more week with the kids,”Oram said. “That’s been our battle cry the last two weeks: Let’s practice next week.
Oram’s point about Mt. Spokane’s skill players was illustrated by the Wildcats’ balanced attack.
Senior quarterback Travis Ward passed for 280 yards, connecting on 19 of 27 passes to eight different receivers. Chip Propp was on the receiving end of four passes for 97 yards.
With Mt. Spokane already leading 21-0, Hanford quarterback Brenton Griffen hit Cameron Wager with a swing pass to the right side of the field. But as Wager turned up field, Mt. Spokane’s Colten Williams stripped the ball from Wager and headed back upfield for a 45-yard touchdown.
“He just took the ball out of Cameron’s arms,” an incredulous Oram said. “To do that to a guy as strong as Wagar, a kid has to be pretty darn good.”
The Wildcats (10-1) opened the scoring when Williams capped a five-play, 49-yard drive with a 15-yard touchdown run in the final moments of the first quarter. Ward would finish off a 12-play, 70-yard drive with a 17-yard TD pass to Propp to Put Mount Spokane up 14-0 with 5:11 in the first half.
Mt. Spokane extended its lead to 21-0 on the opening possession of the second half when Nathan Blackham raced 49 yards down the left sideline with 9:31 remaining in the third quarter. After Williams return TD, Ward scored on a two-yard keeper with 9:07 left in the fourth quarter to put his team up by five touchdowns.
Wagar gave the frigid Falcon faithful a glimmer of hope with a 15-yard touchdown run that finished off a 65-yard Falcon drive that was marred by 55 yards in Mt. Spokane penalties, including two for unsportsmanlike conduct.
Ward hit Evan Poynor with a 22-yard touchdown strike with 6:12 left in the game and then connected with Carson Blumenthal on a 49-yard catch and run play with 3:00 left to finish off the Wildcat scoring.
Hanford scored its final touchdown when Shawn VanDeMark finished off a six-play 69-yard drive with a 10-yard run with only 31.2 seconds left in the game. Wagar collected 51 of his game-high 119 rushing yards on the Falcon¹s final touchdown drive of the season.
“You know Oram said,”“This is the proudest I¹ve been. We’re not the most talented team out there, and we don’t have the most depth, but we played hard and we competed.”