It's hard not to be optimistic about Buccaneer football but after the long drive to Chehalis last Friday and then first walking on to Bearcat Field, even I felt a sense of trepidation. As I rounded the corner of the stadium, I could barely see the green because of the grey. Almost 80 suited bearcats covered the north end of the natural grass field, 27 of which were listed as seniors on the roster, leaving the Kingston Buccaneers looking a bit small with 41 and 15. If that seemed a shock, awe came later in the second half as Chehalis finally broke the Buccaneer defense and earned a well played home field victory, 14-3. As for the Buccaneers? Let's just say the ride home probably felt longer than the ride down.
The first quarter opened remarkably positive for the Buccaneers, holding their own and taking early advantage of the Bearcat defense. On the team's second possession, Kingston scored first at 2:31 on the clock with an Alex Barrett (5) field goal. It didn't get easier, however, and both teams tested the other through the second quarter without crossing the goal line. At half time it would be up to the coaches to adjust.
A Chehalis local talked with me a bit during half time and said he wasn't concerned at all; that the fans there believe Bearcat head coach Bob Wollan is somewhat of a legend for half time coaching. It turns out he was right.
Opening the second half, the Bearcats began to demonstrate a very efficient focus on running against the Buccaneer defensive line, pushing through and then taking advantage of the secondary in occasional pass plays for good yardage. Pushing downfield, Chehalis soon used the combination to connect with Junior Bearcat Emery Austin (20) who was finally dragged down by Kingston's Russell Johnson (54) near the one yard line. Chehalis pushed over their first 6 plus the extra point in roughly six and a half minutes. A repeat attempt of the strategy to 6'2" senior Garrett Yarter was broken up by Kingston defender Hayden Sather (46), showing that Kingston could also adapt, holding the score at 7-3 going into Q4. But short of a strong second half offense, Kingston couldn't adapt enough.
With 4:50 left on the fourth quarter clock, Chehalis again connected the long pass to a wide open Brady Holcomb (24) who took an easy jaunt across the goal line. The extra point was good, putting the scoreboard at its final numbers; 14-3 Bearcats.
While the game seemed tough for the Buccaneers, and it was, there were clear signs of exceptionalism that Buccaneer fans know will take fruit. As most versatile, I'm looking at Alex Barrett (5). The camera lens doesn't lie and I've got him running hard, hitting hard, receiving, tackling, and kicking. Senior Max English (13) also shows versatility as both a running QB and receiver. I don't see everything and everybody, but I got pretty excited about senior Tanner Draper's (18) persistence to put pressure on a QB, and sophomore John Jones (11) showed that he can handle pressure from the other side. Josh Stackhouse (3) can show us a good return and there were innumerable individual efforts that reflect exceptional talent. The question for the Buccaneers next line up against Archbishop Murphy will be, can they pull that talent together for a balance and consolidated force?
See you at Buccaneer Field for their first home game and we'll see.