KALAMA — Standing before his Woodland football players, postgame music blaring from the grandstand, coach Mark Greenleaf started grooving.
His fists pumping and hips slightly swiveling, Greenleaf made it official — Woodland is off and dancing in the playoffs.
The Beavers cruised to a 47-21 district playoff win over Rochester at Kalama High School.
Woodland advances to play a first-round Class 1A state playoff game against Mount Baker next weekend up in Bellingham.
The jovial mood Friday was a far cry from last week, when Woodland was badly beaten in a Trico League showdown with La Center.
Would there be a hangover from that loss, which handed Woodland its only defeat in nine regular season games?
Not a chance. Instead it provided a wakeup call heading into the postseason, where there is no room for error.
“That loss was really good for us last week,” running back Eli Whitmire said. “It got everybody back together.”
Whitmire led the way with three touchdowns and 142 yards rushing on just seven carries. On his first touch of the game, he took a pitch and sprinted 61 yards for the game’s first score.
“Eli opens up the passing game a lot because everybody is worried about him,” said quarterback Hunter Huddleston. “This was a great game. I made a couple of mistakes, but we want to just keep on playing like we did tonight.”
Woodland would tack on two more scores in the first quarter, including a 58-yard run by Huddleston.
That had Rochester (6-4) staggering. The No. 3 seed from the Evergreen Conference pulled within 20-7, but let Woodland cover 60 yards in the final two plays of the first half to tack on another score.
Woodland scored three quick touchdowns in the third quarter, including a 40-yard punt return and 25 yard run both by Whitmire.
Suddenly it was 47-7 and the running clock was triggered.
“The intensity and importance of the game put us where we needed to be mentally,” Greenleaf said. “It gave us the mindset we needed to have to compete at this level. It’s a brand new season. We start zero-zero.”
WOODLAND 47, ROCHESTER 21
Rochester 0 7 7 7–21
Woodland 20 7 20 0–47
W — Eli Whitmire 61 run (Dillan Beckwith kick)
W — Hunter Huddleston 6 run (Beckwith kick)
W — Huddleston 58 run (kick failed)
R — Danny Arellano 3 pass from Tyler Gedney (Noah Althauser kick)
W — Kyle Hendrix 10 pass from Huddleston (Beckwith kick)
W — Trevor Huddleston 19 pass from H. Huddleston (kick failed)
W — Whitmire 40 punt return (Beckwith kick)
W — Whitmire 25 run (Beckwith kick)
R — Wyatt Singer 15 pass from Gedney (Althauser kick)
R — Tyler Yarber 18 run (Althauser kick)
RUSHING — Rochester: Yarber 25-96; Luke Eastman 2-31; Gedney 2-8. Woodland: Whitmire 8-142; H. Huddleston 7-142; Vince Nigro 4-45; Hunter Raney 5-21, Nathan Cloud 3-16.
PASSING — Rochester: Gedney 12-23-2-229, Yarber. Woodland: H. Huddleston 9-16-1-97.
RECEIVING — Rochester: Eastman 1-42, Arellano 3-27, Singer 5-89, Juan Jimenez 1-14, Bobby Brien 2-57. Woodland: T. Huddleston 3-48; Whitmire 1-8; Hendrix 2-23, Nigro 2-18.