LA CENTER — Hockinson coach Clint LeCount didn’t sugarcoat it postgame.
“That’s one of the uglier wins in a long time,” he said after a 19-14 season-opening road win at La Center on Friday night.
Ugly, yes, but a win is a win to start the 2022 high school football season. At the same time, LeCount couldn’t have been more proud of how his Hawks preserved, and never lost focus at the task at hand. After facing a two-score deficit at halftime, the offense scored three touchdowns in its first three third-quarter possessions and the defense shut out La Center in the final 24 minutes.
The victory gave senior receiver John Charles a new perspective on winning after the Hawks trailed by two scores at halftime.
Was there any doubt? No, the Hawks said.
“That shows what we really can do,” Charles said. “That shows who we are.”
Friday at La Center Community Stadium was the first meeting between the two teams since they played four straight from 2014-17. Hockinson now holds a 10-3 lead all-time in the series.
La Center last defeated Hockinson in 2010. After racing out to a 14-0 halftime lead Friday, the Wildcats (0-1) looked to be on their way to a win. Both of its scoring drives started after interceptions of Hockinson quarterback Jarod Oldham and La Center used its power run game to go on scoring drives of 12 and 11 plays, respectively. Jalen Ward’s 2-yard run with 18 seconds left in the first half boosted La Center’s lead by two scores.
On the flip side, Hockinson struggled offensively the first 24 minutes. Oldham self-described his first-half performance with three interceptions as “horrible.” He had as many interceptions as completed passes.
“We all learn from our mistakes,” he said, “and we proved it in the second half. We came back and we got after it.”
And proved it in a big way by scoring touchdowns on its first three possessions of the third quarter to take the lead and momentum for good. An interception by Tanner Cass set up Hockinson’s first scoring drive of 1-minute, 11-seconds, and after La Center muffed the ensuing kickoff, Hockinson scored a play later when Oldham found Charles for a 26-yard strike that cut the deficit to 14-13.
Scoring twice in 10 seconds was the game changer, Oldham said.
“That is the reason we won this football game,” he said. “It’s hard to explain it into words, but that’s how Hockinson does it.”
On the next series after La Center turned the ball over on downs, Hockinson used eight plays before Oldham’s 5-yard keeper that gave the Hawks the 19-14 lead.
La Center’s final possession came with 2:13 left in the fourth after blocking a 31-yard field goal attempt by Hockinson. But three straight incompletions led to a turnover on downs.
Head coach John Lambert said afterward he felt the Wildcats had the game where they wanted it, especially after a 14-0 halftime lead, but “we made a lot of little errors that we can’t make in order to get to where we want to be,” the coach said.
“But sometimes,” Lambert added, “when you lose, it stings a lot more and you put a little bit more emphasis on that.”
Oldham finished 9 of 24 for 159 yards and accounted for two of Hockinson’s three touchdowns. Charles had four catches for 107 yards. La Center had three ball carriers hit at least 50 yards: Levi Giles, Tru Feldman and Ward.
HOCKINSON 19, LA CENTER 14
Hock 0 0 19 0 — 19
LC 0 14 0 0 — 14
LC — Tru Feldman 2 run (Benjamin Rembisz kick)
LC — Jalen Ward 4 run (Rembisz kick)
H — Drake Wubben 16 run (John Charles kick)
H — Charles 26 pass from Jarod Oldham (kick failed)
H — Oldham 5 run (pass failed)
RUSHING — Hockinson: John Charles 4-20, Jarod Oldham 8-53, Tyler Litle 2-2, Drake Wubben 5-25; La Center: Jalen Ward 17-85, Tru Feldman 15-81, Levi Giles 7-59.
PASSING — Hockinson: Oldham 9-24-3-159; La Center: Feldman 7-18-1-57; Jalen Ward 0-1-0-0
RECEIVING — Hockinson: Charles 4-107, Litle 3-19, Enzo Oliverio 1-14, Carter Cameron 1-8; La Center: Giles 3-38, Ward 3-13, No. 26 1-6.