After being torched in prior games, Cardinals hold Cougars to just 41 yards in 32-0 win
The defense that Medical Lake head football coach Wes Hobbs knew was hiding out there somewhere came to play last Friday.
And they put on quite a show as the Cardinals totally dominated the Chewelah Cougars 32-0 in a Northeast A League game that helped Medical Lake improve hope of once again making the postseason.
Giving up just 41 total yards – including a scant 2 yards on the ground – the Cardinals (2-2 Northeast A, 3-3 overall) ended a two-game losing streak and firmed up their position to earn one of four league playoff berths.
“(The) defense came to play,” Hobbs said. “I thought they put more trust into what we talked about during the week and certain tendencies we felt they (Chewelah) had.”
For a team who just seven days earlier had given up nearly 600 yards of total offense in an embarrassing 63-34 loss to third place Lakeside, and 441 more in a 48-19 rout at Riverside, Sept. 27, the Cardinals were dominant on both sides of the ball versus the Cougars (1-2, 1-5). Medical Lake held a 2-to-1 time of possession edge, 31:31-16:29 and a 16-5 advantage in first downs.
“Well we tackled, for starters,” Hobbs said. “Then we started playing with some enthusiasm and momentum and once you got rolling you go for it.”
They started fast with a one-two punch from special teams and offense by knocking the ball loose on the opening kickoff and scored from 2 yards out minutes later on the first of three straight Jackson Tappero touchdowns.
The junior fullback helped put the Cards up 12-0 with 1 minute, 57 seconds to play in the first quarter with an 8-yard run. Both Cardinal PATs, the first a kick and the next a run, failed.
Tappero, who would end the night with a game-high 123 yards on 23 carries, made it 18-0 with 9:13 to play in the half and then turned things over to the electrifying TJ Johnson. The junior speedster capped scoring with a touchdown with 1:07 to go in the half, a 32-yard catch and run and then shot 27 yards for a score with 11:08 remaining in the third.
Taylor Masteller found the range with a pair of PAT kicks on Johnson’s scores. Johnson carried just seven times but ended with 107 yards, an average of over 15 yards a carry.
“Offensively we played fairly well, too,” Hobbs said, despite their starting quarterback, Cory Wagner, not having any reps in the final days of last week’s practice after being injured in a PE class.
“We averted disaster,” Hobbs said. “We thought we may have lost him for the year,” he added, not wishing to elaborate on the nature of the injury.
But the sophomore bounced back to start, even after getting shaken up and knocked out of the Lakeside blowout Oct. 3.
It was a game time decision whether he was going to play or not, Hobbs said.
“We were relying more on the run just trying to get the ball handed off,” Hobbs said.
And he followed the game plan with perfection, throwing sparingly going 4-for-4 for 61 yards. The Cardinals rolled up 396 yards on the ground with Masteller adding 66 yards. They didn’t turn the ball over either.
The defending NEA champion Cougars have struggled in 2013. “They lost a lot of good kids from last year’s team, still they’re well coached,” Hobbs said.
Next for the Cardinals is Friday’s Homecoming game versus Kettle Falls (0-3, 1-5). Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
“(It’s a) big game for us, a huge game because we’ve got to get that third win in league so we can be in those top four teams and advance to the postseason,” Hobbs said.
Paul Delaney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.