RIDGEFIELD — The stakes for Ridgefield football were simple: dig itself a deeper hole by falling to 0-3 with a loss, or start 2A Greater St. Helens League play 1-0 with a win over Hockinson.
Though the reigning 2A GSHL champs acknowledged it was far from their cleanest game, the Spudders avoided the unthinkable by coming back from a seven-point halftime deficit to top the Hawks 26-21 at home.
“The message all week was, you can either be 0-3 or you can be 1-0 and get on the right track with where we’re trying to go,” Ridgefield coach Scott Rice said. “We talked about for (the first) two weeks that those are pride games, those are games we want to win, but they’re games that don’t count for anything. … To get it on the right track feels really good. Ugly, but we got there.”
How the Spudders (1-2, 1-0) got their first win of the season, following losses to W.F. West and Mountain View, was a testament to the Spudders’ defense that held Hockinson scoreless in the second half and forced three interceptions in the final 24 minutes.
That, and a stout offensive line that paved the way for junior running back Rocco Wright to rush for 159 yards on 30 carries.
“I couldn’t even imagine us being 0-3 for the season, especially with the season (we had) last year,” Wright said. “I wanted to make sure we came out in this game and do what we do best — pound the rock on both sides of the ball. It was awesome.”
After Ridgefield scored two touchdowns in the opening quarter through the air from quarterback Logan DeBeaumount to receivers Isaiah Cowley and Landon Kelsey, the team’s offensive script to start the third quarter came as somewhat of a surprise.
The Spudders called Wright’s number on seven straight plays of the drive, which ended with a 6-yard touchdown to bring Ridgefield within 21-20.
“I was saying, ‘feed me, feed me’ the whole time,” Wright said. “The past two games, I was like, I’m this close to breaking one loose … I’m proud of myself and the o-line, I mean, they were dogs up front. I’m really proud of them. I’ll definitely give them donuts or something.”
That brand of football was a welcome sign for Rice, who’s also the Spudders’ offensive line coach and offensive coordinator. And because it worked so well on one drive, well, why not go back to it again?
Across its next two drives, Ridgefield called 10 more run plays before attempting its only pass of the third quarter as the clock expired, a 24-yard touchdown strike from DeBeaumount to Kelsey, that gave Ridgefield a 26-21 lead heading to the fourth.
“It wasn’t that we weren’t successful in the pass game; it just made more sense to keep pounding the ball,” Rice said. “I always love it if we can just get behind the big boys up front and hammer the ball. That’s always great. And as the OC, I’m going to keep calling it.”
Ridgefield went to the halftime locker room down 21-14 to the Hawks, who moved the ball at will against the Spudders’ defense.
The opening drive included a 58-yard bomb from Hockinson quarterback Jarod Oldham to Tyler Litle, which set up an Enzo Oliverio 16-yard touchdown catch.
Hockinson (1-2, 0-1) added 14 unanswered points in the second quarter on an 8-yard Litle touchdown from Oldham and a 3-yard John Charles score on the ground.
Yet for how efficient the Hockinson offense was, the visitors found moving the ball against Ridgefield to be a tougher task coming out of halftime.
Ridgefield’s Carter Ferber intercepted Hockinson in the third quarter to set up the go-ahead touchdown, and Noah Stromberg grabbed another to start the fourth quarter.
Hockinson’s most promising drive, which started at its own 8-yard line, stalled on the other side of midfield when Ridgefield’s pass rush helped force three straight incompletions. On 4th and 10, Oldham took off for a run, but was met by with a Wyatt Bartroff tackle near the Ridgefield sideline, stopping Hockinson 1 yard short of a first down with less than 3 minutes remaining.
Stromberg grabbed his second interception to stop Hockinson’s final drive with 49 seconds left.
Hockinson, by the way, has only lost three 2A GSHL games since 2014, and two of them have come against Ridgefield. The Spudders’ 35-0 win at Hockinson last season was seen as an important moment for a program that went on to win a league title and advance to the 2A state quarterfinals.
Friday, they hope, is the start of another run.
“It shows that we’re not a team that’s going to lay down and quit,” Bartroff said. “We’re a team that’s going to fight ‘til the end no matter the score, we’re going to put it all in and we expect to win a league title this year.”
Ridgefield 26, Hockinson 21
Hockinson 7 14 0 0—21
Ridgefield 14 0 12 0—26
H — Enzo Oliverio 16 pass from Jarod Oldham (John Charles kick)
R — Isaiah Cowley 22 pass from Logan DeBeaumont (Brandon Rogers kick)
R — Landon Kelsey 29 pass from DeBeaumont (Rogers kick)
H — Tyler Litle 8 pass from Oldham (Charles kick)
H — Charles 3 run (Charles kick)
R — Rocco Wright 6 run (kick failed)
R — Kelsey 24 pass from DeBeaumont (pass failed)
RUSHING — Hockinson: Oldham 11-25, Charles 6-21, Drake Wubben 3-11. Ridgefield: Wright 30-159, Cly Stephens 3-19, DeBeaumont 1-(minus 10).
PASSING — Hockinson: Oldham 22-38-4-228 Ridgefield: DeBeaumont 9-17-0-153.
RECEIVING — Hockinson: Litle 7-92, Charles 4-37, Kasen Niemitalo 3-43, Carter Cameron 2-20, Oliverio 2-18, Tristan Maldonado 2-10, Wubben 2-8. Ridgefield: Kelsey 5-105, Cowley 4-48.