EAST WENATCHEE — Two teams — separated geographically by just a river — played a football game Friday that proved to not be very close at all.
The Eastmont Wildcats couldn’t match the offensive firepower of the Wenatchee Panthers as the away team took the 44-10 win at Wildcat Stadium.
“Their offense puts you in situations where they put you in space and we missed too many tackles, and I credit them,” Eastmont head coach Doug McGill said after the game. “They have some kids that make you miss, but I thought we got to (Wenatchee quarterback Dillon) Sugg a lot better. … To me, their offense is such that you get a lot of one-on-one match-ups, and in those match-ups they won a lot more than we did.”
The Cats did hurry Sugg, forcing the tall quarterback to move around the pocket early on in the game, but the senior signal-caller still managed to spread the ball around to his bevy of playmakers.
“They were certainly blitzing a lot, getting a lot of pressure off the edge,” Wenatchee head coach Scott Devereaux said. “I think Dillon was holding the ball a little longer than he should’ve been, but things opened up in the passing game. It’s hard to take everything away. We have good enough receivers that we can really hurt a team if they keep blitzing.”
For the second week in a row, the Wildcats couldn’t keep their opponent from adding points in its first three possessions: Standout running back Isaiah Brandt-Sims had 58 total yards in the opening drive to set up a Sugg scramble that found the end zone; Salvador Joya booted a 25-yard field goal the second time the Panthers got the ball; and Sugg connected with Zach Larsen — who had a impressive game with 73 yards on three catches — for a 38-yard score.
After a 10-yard Brandt-Sims rush found paydirt with 3:43 left in the first half, Wenatchee led 24-3, and it looked like Eastmont had been dealt a knockout blow.
“We kind of sensed that at the end of the second quarter they were on their heels,” Devereaux said. “We knew we just had to come out (in the second half), get one touchdown in the books and it would probably be over.”
And after a blocked punt ended the Wildcats’ first possession in the second half, the Panthers got the backbreaking score they needed on an end-around to Spencer Smith from eight yards out.
Setting up Wenatchee touchdowns after Eastmont miscues became a theme in the second half when a Wildcats running back pass was intercepted and Sugg found Blake Aguilar two snaps later to make it a 38-3 contest.
“We wanted to execute very crisply and not take them lightly,” said Sugg, who had 180 yards passing. “We’ve been running on all cylinders, and this is a game that we could’ve played better, but this was a solid game for us.”
For the Wildcats, the outing wasn’t as solid. On top of losing the game, senior leader Kai Spencer left the game in the first half with an apparent leg injury, and big man Cory Monnot came off the field later in the game wincing.
“We got a little beat up, they got some big boys,” McGill said.
It wasn’t all negative for the Wildcats, though. Running back Brian Burt showed more glimpses of his explosive speed as he rushed for 90 yards at just under 7 yards per carry. Also, new quarterback Nick McGill — a sophomore — looked to form a solid connection with senior receiver Carter Haehl, who finished with seven catches for 53 yards.
“Carter’s got a great set of hands, he’s a tremendous competitor,” Doug McGill said. “I know this one stings for all of our guys, but it was good to see Carter get more catches. I think he’s as good a receiver as there is in our league. He runs great routes and blocks down field. We definitely had some things going there.”
Eastmont drops to 0-3 in Big Nine play and will face Moses Lake at home next week. Wenatchee will look to continue its strong play against non-league opponent Chiawana at the Apple Bowl next Friday.
But in the meantime, Devereaux said he is going to enjoy some much-needed relaxation.
“I know I don’t sleep much Thursday night before Eastmont, so I know I’m going to sleep well tonight,” the Panthers coach — who is now 9-2 against Eastmont — said.