(By Geno Ludwig/Chewelah Independent)
Yards scarce against Grizzlies…
It was evident at Newport last Friday night that the Chewelah Cougars were lacking in game experience. They had played only one quarter at Bridgeport, and their game at Liberty Christian was cancelled. They appeared to be unexpectedly raw against the Grizzlies, who they had totally dominated at the Deer Park jamboree three weeks earlier. The difference was that while the Cougars were having their game cancelled, Newport was playing under the lights the previous Friday night, defeating Priest River 29-8.
Newport had “seen the elephant”, and because of it, the Grizzlies had used their experience against Priest River to improve. Chewelah had not faced an opponent, so they had nothing to compare to.
Now, after being shut out by Newport 25-0 last Friday night, the Cougars have a lengthy list of things to work on this week as they prepare for Freeman on Friday. The primary emphasis will be on improving offensive line performance. Chewelah has some big beef up front, but Coach Levi Hogan and his staff will have to get them all herded in the right direction this week. Although some plays were blocked well, others were muddled. Blown blocking assignments hurt Chewelah in the loss. There may be some adjustments along the offensive line this week.
Blocking efficiency must improve or future games will be Newport replays. Chewelah did not score against the Grizzlies. The Cougars finished the game with only 157 yards of offense, and it was all in the middle of the field. They ran the ball 30 times, gaining 127 yards. They completed two of seven passes for another 30 yards. Touchdowns were nonexistent, first downs were scarce, and possessions were short-lived.
Kaden Mackowiak was Chewelah’s top ground gainer. He carried the ball 23 times for 81 yards, averaging 3.3 yards per tote. Nolan Hansen had six carries for 24 yards, Owen Baldwin had four carries for 17 yards, and Jensen Holloway had four carries for 14 yards.
Griffin Stroyan had Chewelah’s only two pass receptions of the night, one for five yards and one for 22 yards. Baldwin completed two of six throws. Hansen threw once. Both threw an interception, ending two Cougar possessions.
Newport scored twice in the opening half. Grizzly quarterback Koa Pancho ran an option keeper 60 yards to set up the first touchdown. He then threw a 10-yard touchdown pass two plays later, giving the Grizzlies a 6-0 lead. Pancho scored the second touchdown on a nine-yard run.
The Cougar defense halted Newport’s next possession on the 10-yard line with a successful end zonedefensive stand. Griffin Stroyan’s pass interception and 25-yard return stopped another Grizzly intrusion into Cougar territory late in the second quarter. Stroyan then had a 22-yard pass reception that gave Chewelah a first down inside the Newport 30-yard line, however, Baldwin threw a pass interception on the very next play. Thus, Chewelah’s farthest advance into Grizzly territory came to a sudden stop as the first half expired.
Stroyan’s quarterback sack on a safety blitz ended Newport’s first possession of the second half, forcing the Grizzlies to punt the ball. Likewise, a strong Cougar defensive stand made Newport punt away the ball a second time. However, on the other side of the ball, Chewelah still was unable to gain consistent yardage, resulting in a pair of punts.
A long pass completion and a sustained running attack gave Newport its third touchdown early in the third quarter. A bobbled Chewelah punt snap gave the Grizzlies a short field to work with in the fourth quarter, resulting in a 25-yard touchdown drive and a 25-0 lead.
Defensively, the Cougars played better than the score indicated. They made several tackles behind the line of scrimmage and they swarmed well to the football. However, they would sporadically give up a long pass or a long run that would keep Newport drives alive.
Jensen Holloway and Mackowiak led the Chewelah defense with nine tackles apiece. Nolan Hansen had six. Dakota Kroiss and Kaden Krouse each had five. Stroyan had the lone Cougar pass interception. This Friday, the Cougars travel to Freeman. The following Friday, they will host Deer Park for their first home game of the season on their new field. Game time is 7 p.m.