WENATCHEE — After patiently waiting for the past two Fridays, the Wenatchee Panthers finally opened their football season Saturday night against Mt. Baker at the Apple Bowl.
While it might not have been the most offensive game, the Panthers will take the win nonetheless, beating the Mountaineers 10-0 in a turnover-filled, defensive battle.
The lone score of the game came on the first play of the third quarter. Wenatchee cornerback Jake Snitily jumped an out-route and returned it 26-yards for a pick-six. The Panthers' defense just smothered the Mountaineers all night, holding them to 223 yards of total offense while forcing five turnovers.
Wenatchee received the opening kickoff and marched down the field methodically, shaving eight minutes off the clock. Senior wideout Johnny Amezcua started the game at quarterback and handled the first seven plays (all runs) before QB Connor Dooley came in and completed a pair of clutch passes to preserve the drive. The Panthers ultimately stalled in the red zone and settled with a 30-yard field goal from Alex Sanchez.
That was the only score of the entire first half. Both teams had their chances though.
On the ensuing drive, Mt. Baker drove inside the Wenatchee 30-yard line but turned the ball over on downs. The Mountaineers recovered a Blake McGuire fumble a few plays later — setting themselves up inside the 30 again — but on the very next play, QB Brent Anderson fumbled the snap and handed the ball right back to Wenatchee.
Dooley moved the Panthers down the field after completing a 46-yard pass to Amezcua deep down the Mountaineers sideline. But he tried to go to the well once more and Caleb Horsmon picked him off in the endzone, making a phenomenal catch in front of Amezcua.
The turnovers piled up in the second half. Anderson tossed a pair of picks to Snitily and Amezcua. He then fumbled an exchange with his running back in the fourth quarter.
Mt. Baker, amazingly, had one more opportunity to score late in the fourth and got inside the Wenatchee 5-yard line. But the Mountaineers coughed up the ball for the third time and Evan Berdan recovered. The Panthers iced out the game from there to secure their first win of the season.
While the Panthers iced out the game, the student section chanted their own rendition of “We Ready” by Archie Eversole, directing it at the group of Eastmont football players in the opposing stands.
The Wildcats yelled “38-0” in response, referring to this past April’s walloping at the Apple Bowl.
The Panthers will have one more tune-up game next Friday against Mountain View before they take on their cross-bridge rival on Sept. 24 at Eastmont Stadium.
Stats: WENATCHEE — Connor Dooley (12-for-21 passing, 155 yards, INT), Johnny Amezcua (9 carries for 34 yards, 5 receptions, 102 yards, INT defensively), Blake McGuire (13 carries for 33 yards, two fumbles), Camden Loidhamer (5 receptions, 33 yards, fumble recovery), Rivers Cooks (3 receptions, 32 yards), Connor McGuire (3 carries for 30 yards). Jake Snitily (26-yard INT return TD), Tre Jagla (fumble recovery), Evan Berdan (fumble recovery).