The Hockinson Hawks prevailed and gave the Ridgefield Spudders their first defeat of the season in a 14-7 win on Saturday, March 13 at Battle Ground District Stadium. Going into the game, the undefeated Hawks faced a challenge in the undefeated Spudders who shut out their first three opponents scoring 139-0 in their first three games of the year. After Ridgefield went three and out on the first drive of the game, the Hawks came out fighting and scored a touchdown on their first possession and became the only team to score against the Spudder defense all year. Despite throwing an interception on 3rd down with just under 6 minutes left in the first quarter, the Hockinson defense held Ridgefield at bay and ended the first quarter up 7 to 0.
The Hawks continued to hold Ridgefield at bay and run down the clock in the second quarter of the game. With less than 45 seconds left in the half, Sophomore Quarterback Jarod Oldham sneaks the ball in from the one yard line after a 7-and-a-half minute drive for the second Hockinson touchdown of the game leaving the score at 14-0 at halftime.
Originally, the two undefeated teams were not slated to play each other for the shortened 2020-21 season. However, after some schedule arranging and discussion from both the Hockinson and Ridgefield administrations, the two dominating teams faced off head-to-head. After team discussions at halftime, the Ridgefield defense came out ready to play and senior Sam Everett intercepted a Hockinson pass, giving the Spudders the ball at the Hockinson 43 yard line. However, the Hockinson defense wouldn’t let Ridgefield score throughout the third quarter, leaving the score at 14-0 for the final 12 minutes of gameplay.
On the first pass of the fourth quarter, Ridgefield Senior Aidan Hundt intercepted a Hockinson pass, giving the Spuds a fast opportunity to capitalize. After getting the ball down the field, Ridgefield’s Sam Everett ran in the ball from the 3 yard line, getting Ridgefield on the board for the first time. After a few back and fourths and multiple punts, a missed grab from the Hockinson punter with just over 2 minutes left on the clock gave Ridgefield the ball on the Hockinson 5 yard line. However, two sacks later, the Spuds failed to convert the position to a score and the Hawks received the ball with 1:29 left on the clock. The Ridgefield defense did their job and refused to let the Hawks score, giving them the chance to come back on the final possession of the game. However, for the final possession of the game Hockinson defense held strong and the game ended 14-7, continuing the Hawks undefeated streak for another week.
“It feels awesome,” Senior Running Back James Kruse said about the win. “I think we had a lot to prove this senior year...with all the guys that graduated last year, they were great players but we’re great too and we still own this league.”
Kruse said the Hawks “played a really complete game” on Saturday and wanted to “keep the pedal down and keep fighting.” However, for Kruse, he’s just happy to have one final season with his “brothers.”
“I am so thankful for every opportunity I have out here and getting to play the sport I love,” he said.
Hockinson Head Coach Rick Steele said getting out on the field and playing football feels “great” after a year like no other. “It’s just a crazy world right now and football makes it normal for these kids,” he said. “For them to come out here and compete, I am just so proud of them. They battled and we just beat a really good football team and that is exciting.”
Before facing the undefeated Spudders, Steele said the team worked on many things in practice, including a new formation for the first half of the game and running the ball as much as possible. “We’ve got a lot of good running backs and running the football was pretty successful for us today,” he said. “We make a few mistakes but overall we had a great game.”
For the rest of the season, Steele said he wants the Hawks to “finish strong” for the final game of the year against Washougal next week.
As for Ridgefield, head coach Scott Rice said the team needs to work on “capitalizing in the red zone” especially in games when the Spuds find themselves within five yards of the goal line and end up missing the opportunity. “We’ve got to be able to punch that in,” Rice said.
However, Rice said the Spudder Defense played “really well” and he was proud of them holding the Hawks to 14 points for the game. “However, offensively we’ve got to help them out,” he said. “You can’t hold a team like (Hockinson) to 14 and not win a football game.”
Despite the loss, Rice said he was proud of the team and said the team has “strong leadership” through and through as well as some “great young talent” that will return next year.