EAST WENATCHEE — At the start of this season, Wenatchee Valley Rams head coach Mickey White wasn’t optimistic that his team would have a chance to defend its 2012 Washington Football League championship.
“We thought this was going to be a rebuilding year,” White said. “At our coaches’ meeting three weeks before the season started, we looked at each other and told ourselves, ‘If we go .500, we’ve had a hell of a season.’ ”
White thought that way because his squad would be without multiple key players from last year’s squad. However, White may have underestimated the desire of the remaining players to continue the winning tradition of the ‘Ram Family.’
The Rams went 6-0 during the regular season, then posted a thrilling 7-6 win over the Spokane Wolfpack on Saturday in the WFL championship game, held at Eastmont Junior High School.
The title is Wenatchee Valley’s third in the past five years. This one might mean the most to White, though.
“(This championship) is an amazing testament to these guys’ character, heart, drive and passion for the game,” said White, who played quarterback and linebacker Saturday. “We had a dark cloud hanging over our heads this year (due to injuries), and to still come out on top… They didn’t quit. They found a way to get it done.”
It certainly looked like the Rams might fall short on Saturday, though, especially after White threw an interception with just less than four minutes left in the game with the Wolfpack holding a 6-0 advantage.
But Wenatchee Valley’s defense held, and Phil Frost blocked the ensuing punt attempt. The Rams recovered near midfield with 1 minute, 44 seconds remaining, then got two big pass plays from White to Frost to get the Rams to the Wolfpack 2-yard line with about 30 seconds left. Two plays later, White ran the ball into the end zone from 1 yard out to the game at 6, and Garrett Brown’s ensuing point-after kick gave Wenatchee Valley its first lead with 22 seconds left.
The Wolfpack couldn’t convert a last-second attempt to take the lead in the waning seconds, and the Rams celebrated for a second consecutive season.
“We shot ourselves in the foot,” White said. “We had chance after chance after chance (to score earlier). We probably should’ve had three touchdowns on the board. But late in the game, the guys were able to wipe away all of their mistakes. With about a minute left, I looked into the guys’ eyes, and they gave me that look that said, ‘This game is not over.’ We just had to believe.”