This year’s Hockinson football team is not the high-flying, high scoring team the Hawks have been in season’s past.
So it’s a good thing coach Rick Steele has a hard-nosed player like junior linebacker/running back Cody Wheeler.
“Both Wheeler boys we’ve had – Colton Wheeler is now at West Point – they came out of a forge that spat out these 5-10, 210-pound kids that just play football hard,” Steele said. “They were both great middle linebackers, and they’re both great running backs. When we needed tough yards, we just gave it to that type of kid. And Cody did a great job.”
Wheeler pounded out 89 yards on 20 carries, including a tough 5-yard touchdown run late that helped seal a 16-6 win over Columbia River on Saturday at Kiggins Bowl.
“It was still a close game, and there was still enough time for them to come back,” Wheeler said. “So I knew that I had to get in there, and no one was stopping me.”
From there, the Hawks turned to their defense, which has been a particular strength this season.
Hockinson has allowed just nine total points in three games. On Saturday, the Hawks held River to just 57 yards rushing, recovered one fumble and intercepted four passes.
“Our defense was really clicking as a team,” Wheeler said. “And today we had some penalties that we need to work on. We need to work on watching the ball, not be jumping, not getting (pass interference calls). But as a whole, we played very well and played a tough game.”
Junior Andre Northrup was in the mix again, intercepting two passes. And he took a different turn on offense.
After catching a 12-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Jarod Oldham in the second quarter, Northrup ran a series at quarterback in the third quarter, driving the Hawks to a field that gave them a 9-6 lead.
“You’re in one of these games and you just want to get the ball in your best player’s hands,” Steele said. “And Andre’s our best player. He made some things happen. And then it was OK, we take a little pressure off our sophomore quarterback … And Jarod, he played very well when he came back in.”
Oldham passed for 231 yards. Northrup was his favorite target with eight catches for 137 yards.
Columbia River was a dealt a blow when senior quarterback Mason Priddy left the game with a shoulder injury late in the first quarter. Up to that point, Priddy had thrown for 84 yards on 6-of-8 passing, including a 32-yard touchdown pass to Jake Ayers that put River up 6-0.
But River hung tough with the Hawks until the very end.
“Hockinson always gets everybody’s best game,” Steele said. “This week, we got River’s best game. Next week, we’re going to get Ridgefield’s best game. And the week after that we’re going to get Washougal’s best game. We’ve got to show up and be ready to play.”
HOCKINSON 16, COLUMBIA RIVER 6
Hockinson 0 6 3 7–16
Col. River 6 0 0 0– 6
CR — Jake Ayers 32 pass from Mason Priddy (kick failed)
H — Andre Northrup 12 pass from Jarod Oldham (kick failed)
H — John Charles 21 FG
H — Cody Wheeler 5 run (Charles kick)
RUSHING — Hockinson: Wheeler 20-89, Oldham 6-15, Northrup 5-23, Makaio Juarez 2-1, James Kruse 1-3. Columbia River: Priddy 4-37, Adam Watts 4-19, Cade Lujan 1-5, Max Sturtevant 1-0, Dylan Kier 1-(-1), Eddie Hockhalter 1-(-3).
PASSING — Hockinson: Oldham 20-31-1-242, Northrup 0-1-0-0. Columbia River: Priddy 6-8-0-84, Watts 10-30-4-104.
RECEIVING — Hockinson: Northrup 8-137, Kenyon Johnson 4-26, Jake Talarico 3-47, Wheeler 2-9, Juarez 2-10, Noah Prior 1-13. Columbia River: Ayers 4-76, Sturtevant 6-60, Lujan 1-31, Adam Huerena 2-16, Samuela Kaumatule 2-10, Keith Blaue 1-5, Kier 1-0.