Brett Rypien was right.
The senior Shadle Park quarterback told anyone who would listen that the Highlanders would be able to replace their top four receivers who graduated. They combined to catch 190 of Rypien’s 253 completions last fall.
Well if Saturday is any indication, the stable isn’t empty at Shadle, which had no difficulty stopping Fife, a 2A school near Tacoma, 63-14 in a nonleague game at Joe Albi Stadium.
The Boise State-bound Rypien threw for 428 yards and eight touchdowns, four going to 6-foot-5 senior target Sam Stratton.
Stratton hauled in TD tosses of 18, 2, 62 and 5 yards, finishing with 11 receptions for 215 yards.
And there’s even better news for the Highlanders, who shared the Greater Spokane League championship with Ferris last year. They should have a consistent running attack this season.
Darius Savick Batters, a 5-foot-9, 170-pound junior, battered through nice holes for 163 yards on 22 carries. He had 115 yards by halftime. Many would be hard pressed to name the last time a Shadle running back had 100 yards in a half – and one in which Rypien threw for 267.
It took Shadle and Rypien a bit to get going. Rypien made an uncharacteristic mistake on the game’s first offensive series, throwing an interception at Fife’s 3-yard line.
Moments later, Fife running back Austin Woods beat Shadle defenders to the perimeter and sprinted 95 yards for the opening touchdown.
Shadle quickly answered five plays later when Rypien found Stratton on their first TD connection.
Rypien, whose adrenaline may have been pumping a little too much early, had a second interception moments into the second quarter. He admitted that he struggled finding a groove and adjusting to defensive schemes he hadn’t seen.
“You never have an excuse for turnovers,” Rypien said. “That was unacceptable to start like that. We picked it up in the second half, obviously, but I really don’t think we played our best. They came out and gave us a look we had not seen before. They were changing up their fronts and confusing our offensive line a little bit. We had some ‘A’ gap pressure early but once we got that figured out we started rolling.”
Stratton is grateful for the example set by last year’s cadre of receivers.
“We have a really good squad of receivers,” Stratton said. “We’ve just been working really hard. It just felt good to get out and show it today.”
Rypien, too, likes who he’s throwing to this fall.
“I knew coming into this year that the receivers in my class are just as athletic as last year,” he said. “We’ve got two guys, Sam and George (Pilimai), who are 6-5 and 6-6. They’re going to be really hard to cover in the red zone. Cameron (Duty) and Jahden (Nguyen) as well. Nobody really knows about Jahden, but he’s a very good player. He’s like our Alvin (Welch) this year.”
Nguyen finished with nine catches for 108 yards and one TD.
Jim Mace, who was coaching his first game replacing Alan Stanfield who moved over to Whitworth, had much to be pleased about.
“When they’re executing on full cylinders, they’re going to be hard to stop at times,” Mace said. “Overall, it was pretty good execution for a first game.”
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