OKANOGAN — After playing by far its worst game of the season last week against Cashmere, Okanogan played perhaps its best game of the season Friday.
The Bulldogs’ stout defensive effort, along with the absolutely sublime effort of quarterback/defensive back Justin Rivas, allowed the Bulldogs to post perhaps their most impressive — and critical — victory of the season.
Okanogan snapped a second-place tie in the CTL with Cascade with its 29-15 win. The Bulldogs (4-1 CTL) can still claim at least a tie of the league championship, although they’d need Cashmere to lose at least one of their remaining games to do so.
But at the very least, this victory gives Okanogan a strong claim to the No. 2 seed, which comes with a home playoff game in Week 10.
“Last week I was disappointed with how we played. We played hard, but not well,” Okanogan coach Erick Judd said in a phone interview after the game. “Cascade is a very good team, and we played hard the whole game and kept fighting. You never know how (kids) will react after a big loss; last year, we didn’t react well (after losing to Cashmere); this year, we played with more heart.
“This was a good win for us.”
Rivas, who has played under center ever since returning all-leaguer Clay Ashworth sustained a hip injury in the Bulldogs’ Week 2 game against Connell, recorded all four of Okanogan’s touchdowns.
He scored on a 30-yard run in the first quarter to give the Bulldogs a 7-0 lead, which Okanogan took into halftime.
Rivas scored twice in the third quarter as both teams began to churn out more offense. The senior scored on a 40-yard run to give the Bulldogs a 14-8 lead, then later in the quarter scored on a 3-yard run, giving the Bulldogs a 22-15 advantage.
He sealed the victory with a 37-yard interception return with less than one minute remaining in the fourth quarter.
“He had a great game,” Judd said. “Last week, we threw the ball more than I thought we should’ve, and I’ll take responsibility for calling too many pass plays. This week, we wanted to focus on Rivas as more of a scrambler. He’s not going to be the true pocket passer that we tried to make him be last week. We made the change for this game to let him do what he does best.”
Okanogan’s defense was able to limit big plays from Merritt, who scored Cascade’s second touchdown on a 62-yard run in third quarter.
Linebacker Jim Townsend helped to plug the middle of the line, virtually eliminating the Kodiaks’ (3-2 CTL) inside running game.
“Our defense played really well,” Judd said. “We challenged the defensive line this week; they didn’t do well against Cashmere last week, and they stepped up. Arturo Ramos had a great game, as did Kenny Johnson and Dakota Huff. Those guys won’t show up with a lot of tackles, but they made it easier for the linebackers to flow.”
Merritt ran for 162 yards on 19 carries.
Chelan 45, Omak 0
Chelan won for the third straight time, blanking visiting Omak.
The Goats (3-2 CTL) move into a tie for third place along with Cascade and Quincy.
Konnar Stevens had 115 rushing yards and a touchdown, and Kai Clausen added 76 yards on the ground and three scores.
“We wanted to start fast and jump on them,” said Goats coach Travis Domser. “The kids executed on offense and ran the ball well. We’re excited about that.
“We had a good plan and the kids executed the plan. We played pretty physical tonight. Luke Gleasman had a good night and Asa Schwartz had a good night on defense. Those guys are the anchors there. When they have a good night, we do OK.”
Cashmere 59, Brewster 24
Mason Elliott ran for 161 yards and scored four touchdowns to lead Cashmere over host Brewster.
The Bulldogs (5-0 CTL) took a 45-12 halftime lead.
“Our run defense was extremely good,” said Cashmere coach Phil Zukowski. “But we’ve got to shore up our secondary.”
Mitch Boesel threw for 329 yards and four touchdowns for the Bears (2-3 CTL), and Cade Smith had eight catches for 167 yards.
“We made huge improvements,” said Brewster coach Jake Johanson. “Last year we lost (to Cashmere ) 83-0, so this is a big step for us. Cade had a big night, and Mitch was throwing the ball on the money all night.”
Quincy 44, Tonasket 6
John Lindquist rushed for 171 yards and a touchdown, and Quincy (3-2 CTL) ran over host Tonasket (0-5 CTL).
Dallas Bassett threw for 134 yards and two touchdowns, both to Connor Trevino.
“We’re trying to get back to running the ball better,” said Quincy coach Stephen Wallace. “We’re spreading the ball around better. We scored the first four times we had the ball in the first half, so this was one of our more efficient offensive games.”