(By Geno Ludwig/The Independent Staff)
After playing only two ballgames, the Chewelah Cougars already have more wins than they earned all last year.
A ruthless Chewelah defense forced six Riverside turnovers last Friday night, leading to a 20-0 shutout Cougar victory over the bumbling Rams. The goose-egg win was Chewelah’s second in two encounters, with the Cougars outscoring Bridgeport last week by a 68-0 margin.
In addition, the pair of wins at the beginning of the schedule raised Chewelah’s record to 2-0, which is already one win better than last year’s final triumph total.
With Newport coming to Snyder Field this Friday, there is a strong possibility the Cougars will jack that record up to 3-0. They enter that game undefeated and unscored upon.
As in the previous week’s win over Bridgeport, the Chewelah offense did most of the damage in the first quarter of play. The Cougars received the opening kickoff and immediately marched 65 yards for their first of three touchdowns, moving the chains five times along the way.
Elan Krausz highlighted Chewelah’s initial scoring drive. He completed a 15-yard pass to Jensen Holloway, and he had first down runs of 17 yards and 21 yards, the last of which gave the Cougars a first down on the Riverside three-yard line. In between, Dom Coleman had five carries up the middle and Payton Danly ran a quick toss for a seven-yard advance.
Krausz capped the possession with a two-yard quarterback sneak across the goal line, and Coleman added the two extra points. With 5:56 remaining in the first quarter, Chewelah took an 8-0 lead over the Rams.
Sam Smith’s fumble-causing hit, assisted by Owen Baldwin and Kaden Mackowiak, gave the ball back to Chewelah at the 39-yard line and initiated the second Cougar scoring drive. With the help of two major penalties flagged against Riverside, Chewelah quickly moved the ball to the Ram 23-yard line. From there, Krausz connected with Sam Smith on a touchdown pass that covered the 23- yards to the end zone. Although the extra-point run failed, the Cougars increased their lead to 14-0 with 3:07 left to play in the first quarter. Chewelah did not score again until late in the fourth quarter. During the interval, the emphasis focused on the Cougar defense keeping Riverside from scoring.
Although there were times when the Rams did successfully run the football, every possession ended either in a punt or a turnover as Chewelah’s defensive unit thwarted every Riverside attempt to put points on the scoreboard. Before the first quarter had come to a close, the Cougars forced another Ram fumble. After being slowed down by Baldwin and Mackowiak, Riverside’s quarterback was tackled by Isaac Hall as he ran down the east sideline. When help arrived, the ball squirted loose and was recovered by Conner Krouse.
When Chewelah’s next possession ended seven yards from the goal line, Riverside took over with its back to the goal line. On their down, the Rams decided to pass. Chased out of the pocket by Adam Gray, the quarterback threw the ball on the run, and Mackowiak ran in front of the intended receiver to make the interception. Unfortunately, however, neither of the Riverside turnovers resulted in a Chewelah touchdown.
The Cougars did have a 61-yard drive in the second quarter, but they turned the ball over on downs on the Ram seven-yard line.
Along the way, Nolan Hansen grabbed an 11-yard pass from Krausz and had to first down carries, one for 15 yards and the other for 10 yards. Also, Brenden Flanagan caught a 16-yard throw delivered by Krausz.
The other possession did not provide points either. Nevertheless, both kept the ball in Chewelah hands so Riverside could not score, freezing the score at 14-0 until halftime.
The Cougars kicked off to start the second half, but Riverside gave the ball back on its third snap. Two Ram runningbacks collided as they were met by a blitzing Dom Coleman. The ball was ejected, and Kolten Cairns and Baldwin cuddled it for Chewelah’s third fumble recovery of the game.
Neither team scored in the third quarter and through most of the fourth.
There were still some good plays by the Cougars. Coleman had an 11-yard gain up the middle, Smith snagged a 15-yard pass, and Krausz ran an option keeper for 16 yards. On defense, Coleman had back- to-back stuffs in the Riverside backfield for losses of yardage, and Holloway added another.
The Chewelah defense recovered two more Riverside fumbles in the fourth quarter. One was gobbled up by Krouse in the Ram end zone for the third Cougar touchdown with 2:02 left in the game, sealing a 20-0 league win. The other was recovered by Holloway.
It was a good night on both sides of the call for Chewelah. The Cougar offensive and defensive lines did a good job of handling the much bigger Riverside linemen in the trenches. The offense finished with 230 yards—150 rushing and 80 passing—but scored only twice.
Dom Coleman, was the workhorse of the offense. “The Dominator” had 19 carries for 69 yards up the middle against that hefty Riverside defensive front.
Krausz had 11 carries for 55 yards.
He completed five of nine passes for 80 yards. He ran for one touchdown and threw for another.
It was the Chewelah defense, however, that took charge Friday night.
The always attacking Cougars seized five fumbles, picked off a pass, made nine tackles behind the line of scrimmage, and limited the Rams to 170 total yards. Now, that is a pretty good night’s work!
Colman and Baldwin led the Cougar defense with seven tackles each. Isaac Hall had five. Krouse, Holloway, and Mackowiak had four apiece.
The Newport Grizzlies will be here this Friday night, with kickoff time set at 7 p.m. They are 1-1 so far this season, having defeated Priest River to open the season, but they lost a 19-13 game to Okanogan last Friday. Newport led the Bulldogs 13-0 early in the game, but Okanogan came back to win it.
Newport will run and pass from a variety of formations, and the Grizzlies have already dug deep into their playbook for so early in the season. So, the Cougars have a lot to prepare for this week. Okanogan beat them through the air last week. The Cougars need to find a way to do the same.
CHEWELAH 20, RIVERSIDE 0
Riverside 0 0 0 0-0
Chewelah 14 0 0 6-20
CHEW- Krausz 2 run (Coleman run)
CHEW-Coleman 1 run ( run failed)
CHEW- Krouss recovered fumble in end zone (run failed)
NEA League Scores
Freeman 41, Bonners Ferry 0
West Valley 45, Colville 18
St. Maries 46, Deer Park 0
Shadle Park 35, Lakeside (WA) 20
Okanogan 19, Newport 13
Priest River 57, Medical Lake 10
Almira/Coulee-Hartline 48, Columbia 0
Wellpinit 58, St. John-Endicott 20
Cusick 72, Pateros 12
Odessa-Harrington 94, Northport 6
Davenport 34, Kettle Falls 20
Northwest Christian 42, Springdale 6