WENATCHEE — The Wenatchee football team faced top-tier talent Friday at the Apple Bowl and left the field nursing the wounds of a 48-7 loss against undefeated Chiawana.
The home squad was out-muscled and outplayed in every phase of the game. Senior star running back Isaiah Brandt-Sims was met at the point of attack at almost every touch, finishing the night with a season-low 35 yards, and the Chiawana defense kept quarterback Dillon Sugg under wraps with the exception of a few big pass plays.
Even worse, the Panthers defense had no answer for a bruising rush attack that featured Clifton Lozano and Austin Urlacher. The duo combined for 489 yards and six scores, breaking their way into the Wenatchee secondary time and time again.
The Panthers knew they would have their hands full against the Class 4A power — which entered the contest ranked No. 3 in the Associated Press state football poll — but expected a more favorable outcome. At the very least, they expected a closer final score.
“They took us to the woodshed, man,” coach Scott Devereaux said afterward. “They ran the ball when they wanted to run it, and their defense pretty much whooped us. They thumped us on both sides of the ball.”
Wenatchee trailed 27-7 going into halftime, and at that juncture, there was still hope of a comeback.
After all, the Panthers entered Friday touting the best offense in the Big Nine with a league-leading 1,772 yards of total offense. Moreover, the Panthers have shown the ability to put up points in a hurry.
Problem is, they couldn’t summon any of that firepower to right the ship and make it a competitive game. Instead, the Riverhawks picked up where they left off, controlling the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball and enforcing their will with a back-breaking ground attack.
They scored on the first drive of the second half, forced a three-and-out and charged downhill for another trip to the end zone, building their lead to 41-7 and essentially dashing what little hope remained for a close game.
Wenatchee couldn’t incorporate adjustments or do much of anything to spin the momentum in its favor.
“We’re going to look at the game film and see some things,” Devereaux said. “We didn’t tackle very well. I don’t know how many tackles their running backs broke, but if you counted them up, it might be a record. Their backs ran really hard, we didn’t tackle really well, and I’m not happy about that at all. And offensively we couldn’t get anything going. We scored on a broken play, and that was our hurrah.”
The good news for the Panthers? The demoralizing setback won’t impede their hunt for a Big Nine championship.
They still control their own destiny for a state playoff berth, but will have to win out to ensure a home game in the opening round of state. And the march for a first-place finish starts Friday with a home game against Eisenhower, the only Big Nine squad its lost to this fall.
“It’s all about Eisenhower now,” Devereaux said. “We have to flush this one, focus on Ike on Monday and we can still be league champs and host a playoff game. But we have to win out and it starts here Friday next week — that’s the test.”