EAST WENATCHEE — Not only was the Big 9 championship on the line Thursday night when Eastmont played Wenatchee in the annual Bridge of Sportsmanship game, but also the rushing title in the Big 9.

Wenatchee senior running back Nathan Blauman has been leading the league in rushing all season with Eastmont senior Carson Talley right behind. When the night started, Blauman had 1,239 yards on 142 carries for an 8.7-yard average. Talley had 1,202 yards on 132 carries for a 9-yard average.

When the night began, it was thought Blauman would have the edge winning the rushing title because he is the primary back for the Panthers, while Talley must share the load with a number of other runners in the Wildcat’s Wing-T attack.

However, Talley had quite the night rushing for the victorious Wildcats, ripping off runs of 25 yards, 22 yards, 12 yards, and 10 yards. He finished the night with 122 yards on 11 carries with one touchdown.

Blauman had to sit out the previous game due to a hamstring injury, which did continue to hamper him in the first half. After getting his leg wrapped in the second half, Blauman was the workhorse for the Panthers with runs of 21 yards, 18 yards, 14 yards, 12 yards and 10 yards.

The Wenatchee runner finished the night with 146 yards on 23 carries with one touchdown. So Blauman finished the regular season with 1,385 yards while Talley finished with 1,324 yards.

Blauman is the 2019 Big 9 rushing champion.

“That’s Nate. He’ll give you all he’s got every play. He’ll run hard, run strong. We don’t expect anything different from him,” said Wenatchee Head Coach Scott Devereaux.

Blauman said he felt okay in the game with his hamstring. After halftime, he was ready to go ripping off some big runs. He was also impressed with Talley’s game.

“He had a great game. He reads the hole really well and hits the gas. They are a great team. Fun match up,” Blauman said of Talley.

The two talented tailbacks may meet on the gridiron again this Saturday in the three-way playoff between Sunnyside, Wenatchee and Eastmont.

Ian Dunn: 664-7157