Longtime Mark Morris coach Shawn Perkins was the first to admit that Friday night’s 15-8 win over Hudson’s Bay wasn’t the prettiest he’s seen over the last 18 seasons in Columbia blue and red. However, when it’s finally time to celebrate your first win since 2019, the final margin of victory is merely a garnish to the main course of meat and potatoes.
“They got it done. It wasn’t pretty but the boys got it done,” Perkins said while his charges belted out the Mark Morris High School fight song to the smattering of 50 or so fans that were allowed inside Longview Memorial Stadium for the Monarch’s first home game of the season on Friday. “I’m proud of those guys. They really played their tails off, played hard, and they got the win tonight.”
Mark Morris kicked the scoring off just before the horn to end the first quarter with a six yard rushing touchdown from George Mosier. That score was set up by a gutsy call by the Monarchs offensive minds when they dialed up a pass play on 4th and 9 from the Eagles’ 45 yard line that Langston Bartell hauled in for a 33-yard gain before being tackled into the long jump pit alongside the track.
Mosier led all rushers with 43 yards on seven carries while Owen Huhta added 20 yards on nine carries for the Monarchs.
Consistently soggy turf and on-again-off-again fits of rain gave both offenses fits and limited most of the action to spinning wheels around midfield. But then Hudson’s Bay made the mistake of punting the ball away and into the hands of Deacon Dietz with too much empty space surrounding him. About 12 seconds, several jukes, a stiff-arm and one long cut back across the field later, Dietz had covered 90 yards and hung another touchdown on the board for the Monarchs.
In last week’s season-opener Mark Morris and Washougal mutually agreed to abolish the kicking game in order to limit full speed contact plays following a shortened preseason. After watching his sophomore wunderkind in the Monarchs’ first full game with punts and kickoffs this season, Perkins admitted that Dietz’ natural inclination to take a risk on a big play does sometimes make him nervous. But that doesn’t mean he’s trying to rein in the kid with the golden gallop.
“You’ve got to let your horses run. If you want to have a chance they’ve got to get out there and run,” Perkins said. “He hasn’t played a whole lot of football but he’s doing some good things, especially when he gets out in the open field. He’s got good speed and he’s got good strength. I’m excited to see over the next couple years to see what he turns in to over the next couple years and how he develops because he’s pretty special out there, especially when it comes to returning kicks.”
The captivating punt return created so much good mojo in the stadium that even when things went wrong, like on the ensuing extra point attempt, they still went right for the home team. So when the snap to the place holder came up short Mark Morris kicker Kellen Desbiens calmly picked up the ball, rolled right, and lofted a slightly wobbly pass that found Mosier wide-open in the end zone for two points instead of two.
Hudson’s Bay was able to get back in the game before intermission thanks to a short scoring burst from Jamarion Hinton with 30 seconds remaining in the first half. That scoring rush came one play after Hinton was suplexed WWE style six inches deep into the sodden turf on a tackle in the red zone by Jamison Watson and that clap back by the Eagles seemed to give their sideline a spark that promised to make things interesting.
As it turned out, the rest of the game became mostly much to do about nothing as neither team was able to score in the second half. Perkins gave credit to a strong team defensive performance for holding onto the lead down the stretch when the Eagles were pulling out all the stops, including switching quarterbacks in and out, to try and find a crack in the Monarchs’ defenses.
“I don’t think anyone really stood out on defense tonight. I think it was a great team effort,” Perkins said. “You’ve got to give that little quarterback, (Barnes), credit. He is a stud. He’s a little jitterbug back there just making people miss. He’s a good player. But we didn’t break when we had to make a stand and the kids made it happen.”
But when Barnes was called on to get one more first down to keep the Eagles’ offense on the field with under five minutes to go, the Monarchs sniffed out the play and stopped him short to force a turnover.
Similarly, when Mark Morris faced 4th and 2 with under three minutes remaining and needed to keep their offense on the field to salt away their win they also called on their quarterback with a choreographed bootleg rollout. The only difference was that Jared Noel was able to move the chains thanks to a last-ditch dive and a Gumby-arm lunge to get the ball over the line.
“We needed 72 and a half inches and he got 73. That’s not his specialty, running the ball, but he’s a competitor and he got it done tonight,” Perkins said of his senior signal caller. “That’s what good quarterbacks do. You challenge them and they step up to the plate. He also got some good blocks from the O-line, but he got what he needed and that’s all that matters.”
Noel finished the game with 92 yards passing on 12 attempts. Bartell hauled in two passes for 45 yards, Dietz caught two passes for 37 yards and Watson caught one more for 18 yards.
Mark Morris (1-1) is scheduled to play at Ridgefield next Friday.
MARK MORRIS 15, HUDSON’S BAY 8
Hudson’s Bay 0 8 0 0 — 8
M. Morris 7 8 0 0 — 15
MM — George Mosier 6 run (Kellen Desibiens)
MM — Deacon Dietz 90 punt return (Mosier pass from Desbiens)
HB — Jamarion Hinton 6 run (Raven Barnes run)
RUSHING – Hudson’s Bay: Barnes 10-50, Hinton 14-90; Mark Morris: Mosier 7-43, Huhta 9-20.
PASSING – Hudson’s Bay: Castillo 3-9-0-9, Barnes 1-8-0-7; Mark Morris: Jared Noel 7-12-0-92.
RECEIVING – Hudson’s Bay: Hinton 2-7. Mark Morris: Dietz 2-37, Langston Bartell 2-45, Jamison Watson 1-18.