The Waterville-Mansfield Shockers football team attacked Naselle head on in their opening round game of the 1B state football tournament. But the fifth-ranked Comets proved they weren’t just a shooting star and deserved the high seed they received. In the end, it was the Comets who walked away with a 64-12 victory, ending the Shockers’ season.
The game started promising, as the Shockers took the opening possession down the field for a touchdown. Unfortunately, after that the Comets’ took over the game, as they proved to be too much for the Shockers to handle.
The Shockers stayed true to what got them to the postseason. Their offense continued running downhill directly at the Comets defense, but Naselle was there to meet them almost every time. The defense tried to keep up with Naselle’s speed, while they also tried to disrupt the Comet’s backfield. But their opponents were able to hold their blocks long enough to consistently make big plays.
Head Coach Tayn Kendrick noted that, while the Shockers did make some mistakes, Naselle was the better team this time and earned the victory. The game helped to show the younger players the improvements they will have to make to take the next step and become contenders for the state crown.
“We started strong but had some mistakes that we couldn’t overcome. Overall, we played well, but not well enough. They earned their high seed and we saw what it takes to make the next jump in our intensity, execution, and training,” Kendrick said.
On offense, the Shockers were led by Abe Diaz who had 31 carries for 134 yards. Quarterback Cole Bordin found himself scrambling away from the Comets’ defense all night, but he was able to complete two touchdown passes in the red zone. Both were to Jack Katovich.
The defense was led by Katovich, Braydon Murison, and Kaneem Island who continually found themselves in the middle of the action.
“They played hard. We weren’t able to get off enough blocks to stall their drives, which hurt us throughout the game,” said Coach Kendrick.
While the Shockers’ season ended with a defeat, something that will happen to 15 of the 16 teams in the state tournament, Coach Kendrick expressed his pride in all that Waterville-Mansfield was able to accomplish this year. This was the first time in 15 years the football team has made it to the state tournament. Also, excluding the forfeit to Pateros due to health reasons, the other three teams this team has lost to all advanced to the second round of the state tournament, meaning they are three of the eight 1B teams still playing.
“The game didn’t end the way we wanted, but no one can take away what we accomplished this year. We lost to three teams this year and all of them are in the final eight of the state playoffs. The Shockers played with a lot of heart and while we were excited to make it to the playoffs, the players are hungry for more. We are a team that learns best through adversity, so I expect our underclassmen to learn a ton from this game and from the seniors and come back next year ready to make some noise,” Kendrick said.
With such a great attitude amongst the players coupled with a strong desire to improve, it is obvious that while Saturday’s game may have been the end to the Shocker’s season, this is only the beginning of a run of great success for the student athletes from Waterville and Mansfield.