Football: SNO Way? The Scots are 4 and 1

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

#34 Marcus Tidwell with the game winning run
Photo by Andy Bronson

WecCo 3A football 10/4
Shorecrest 36  - Snohomish 35
Scots overall 4 - 1

By Rob Oxford

To the average football fan an onside kick to start a football game might seem Bush League, especially when successfully recovered by the kicking team. Not surprisingly, that is exactly what this “average fan” turned sportswriter thought during Friday Night’s WesCo 3A South matchup in Snohomish.

That is until I considered that it was a perfectly executed play, not expected at all and that a football coach should use every opportunity to win a game. With that I say kudos to Snohomish Head Coach Joey Hammer for dialing one up. The play immediately energized the home crowd, gave Snohomish control of the ball and the chance to put the night's first points on the board. Which they did with what appeared to be very little effort.

After losing to Snohomish in overtime last year, everyone expected this game to be close. Going in Snohomish had a record of 2 – 2 and on paper, the smallest lineup they’ve had in recent memory. But as Mark Twain wrote, “it’s not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog”.

Unfortunately for the fans who travelled from Shoreline, the first half belonged to the Panthers. With very little passing game to speak of, Snohomish took full advantage of the Scots' inability to bring down ball carriers at the initial point of contact and ran the ball right down their throats for some very impressive gains.

On the night, Snohomish Tailbacks Joshua Vandergriend and Tyler Larsen ran for a total of 125 and 143 yards respectively. Whereas the Scots only mustered 106 yards on the ground between their 4 ball carriers. However, it was a much different story in the air.

Defense wasn’t the only problem for the Scots in the first half. Although he would make up for it in the 3rd and 4th quarters, Scots QB Eladio Fountain struggled early on. Failing to complete any of his first 7 passes, the silver lining looked as though it might be the Scots running game. Their second possession of the night started with 2 nice runs of 5 and 4 yards, but opting to pass on 3rd down and one, deep in their own territory, they would face a punting situation when that pass also fell incomplete.

With the Panthers leading 14 – 0, Fountain finally connected with Senior WR Derrick Williams on a 22-yard completion. Later in the same series, choosing to go for it on 4th and 19, Fountain again found his #1 receiver Williams. The result was a 34-yard touchdown strike and the visiting fans breathed a sigh of relief. Unfortunately, Scots Kicker Gavin Dalziel, who nailed a 40-yarder last year to send the game into overtime, clipped the upright on the PAT. Nonetheless, the Scots were finally on the board.

Snohomish would take the ensuing kickoff and continue to march downfield. With 2:25 left before halftime, in a game that at this point had few penalties, a rare offensive pass interference would push the Panthers back 15 yards. On the following play Senior Cornerback Jacob Cruz would pick-off Panther QB Silas Strehle giving the Scots one minute on the clock, two timeouts and an opportunity to tie the game or at least reduce the Panthers lead before halftime.

The inability to call more than one play in the huddle has been an issue for the Scots and precious seconds can tick away while trying to contemplate their next move. Still, with an entire second half left to play at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Snohomish, the visiting Shorecrest Scots looked confident heading into the locker room trailing by only 8 points.

#24 Zane Morga-Baisac breaks up a pass
Photo by Andy Bronson

A Tale of Two Halves.

Snohomish would take legitimate possession of the ball after the break and whatever it was that Coach Brandon Christensen and his staff had to say to his team in the locker room, it was obvious they were each listening intently.

The Scots Defense immediately tightened up and the Panthers turned the ball over on downs.

The next series for the Scots started on their own 26-yard line where Fountain began to work his magic. A first down pass play to Des Fox gained 15 yards and then the “Swiss Army Knife” Marcus Tidwell rumbled for 20. Fountain then found Des Fox for another 15-yard completion and the Scots were on the move. Facing 3rd down with 9 yards to go, Fountain threw a 20-yard missile to #9 Derrick Williams and the Wide Receiver had his second score of the night. Down by 2 points, Coach Christensen relied on his 6’2” 255 lb. QB to bulldoze his way into the end zone for the tying score and just like that, things had gotten exciting.

The rest of the night’s contest would be a continual back and forth. Snohomish would score and Shorecrest would answer. Although forced out of the pocket quite frequently, #19 Eladio Fountain found a way to hook up with Seniors Gannon Dow and Carlos Torres on several beautifully thrown balls.

The momentum seemed to be shifting ever so gradually in favor of the Scots and considering that Snohomish opted to start the game with an onside kick, one could easily find themselves wondering whether or not the 3 injury timeouts during a Shorecrest offensive drive might be more gamesmanship on the part of the Panthers? Thankfully, none of the “injuries” were serious.

Still unable to stop the Panther running attack and tied at 28 – 28, Snohomish again ran straight up field and into a 35 – 28 lead with 3:09 left in the game.

The final possession of the night will be one talked about in Highlander circles for many years to come. With 1:48 remaining, the Scots faced a 4th down and 2. Scots QB Fountain proceeded to hitch a ride behind his front 5 and with time running out the guys had a fresh set of downs. Inching closer to the goal line, a pass interference on Snohomish combined with a 23-yard bullet to Williams, moved the Scots inside the 1. The following play would add yet another feather in the cap of the Scots 4th year starter as Fountain, who smelling blood in the water, edged his way into the end zone to bring the Scots within 1 point.

The scoreboard now displayed :35 seconds remaining with Snohomish in the lead 35 – 34 and although he is one of the best the school has ever had and one of the nicest athletes you could ever meet, there wasn’t a Shorecrest fan in the stadium who wanted to see sure-footed kicker Gavin Dalziel trot onto the field. No one wanted a tie. No one wanted overtime. The collective cry towards the Scots bench was, “Go for it Coach!”

And go for it he did. Positioning Middle Linebacker James Huffman at U back on the left side, Marcus Tidwell took the hand off from Fountain, galloped into the end zone untouched and the Highlander Faithful went nuts.

The Panthers would get one final chance to pull off a miracle, but a flea-flicker pass was broken up and the Scots could begin to celebrate.

The Scots will look to stretch their record to 5 and 1 as they host Stanwood this Friday Night at 7pm and welcome former graduates back for Homecoming. 


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