Cougars Win League Championship


Derek Smith systematically picked apart the Riverside defense last Friday night as he completed 13 of 19 passes for 258 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Chewelah Cougars to a 55-7 victory over the Riverside Rams.

With the win, Chewelah completed a perfect 6-0 league season, 8-1 overall. The Cougars now enter post-season play where they will host Okanogan from the Caribou Trail League this Friday night at 7 p.m. at Merle B. Snyder Field.

Through the season, Smith has completed 95 of 170 passes for 1,533 yards and 13 Chewelah touchdowns. If the Cougars can remain in the fight for the state championship for two weeks or more, Smith could produce over 2,000 passing yards for this season.

As a three-year starter at quarterback, Smith is closing in on the single season and career passing records during the Coach Jim Fisk era. Or, maybe he and his receivers may have already established those modern day records. So far, Coach Fisk, who is the sole keeper of these statistics, has been silent regarding this subject.

No known passing records were kept during the tenures of coaches Herman Pein, Sam Giampietri, and Roy Albertson, because back in those days, Chewelah was not a team that threw the ball very often.

As Coach Pein used to say, “When you throw the football, three things can happen, and two of those are not good, so we don’t throw the ball very often.”

But, since the arrival of Coach Fisk, statistics of all kinds have been kept for various aspects of the game. And, since his teams have thrown the ball as often as they have carried it, this year’s passing statistics may yield some school records. However, there is no way to look back into Cougar football history to verify any of them.

Furthermore, the Cougars plan to continue throwing the ball this Friday night when Okanogan comes to town.

“Typically, CTL teams like to line up in tight formations and run the ball,” said Fisk. “To us, they’re somewhat like a Deer Park, or a Newport, or a Kettle Falls.

“So, we are going to spread them out and throw the football. We’re going to show them a lot of different formations and see if they can cover four or five receivers. We don’t think they can. We’re going to find the open receiver and throw to him.”

That is exactly what the Cougars did last Friday night against Riverside. Smith found receivers who were not being closely defended by the Rams and threw to them.

“Derek does a pre-snap read of the defense and he usually knows who he is going to throw the ball to before the play begins,” said Fisk.

That is what Smith did when he hooked up with Cordell Bean to score Chewelah’s first touchdown against Riverside. Smith saw that Bean was being defended by a linebacker and threw to him twice. The first pass was an 18-yarder that gave the Cougars a first down at the Ram 37-yard line. The second completion to Bean went all the way to the endzone for a touchdown. The extra-point kick by Ty Curtis gave Chewelah a 7-0 lead with 6:55 remaining in the opening quarter.

A pass interception by Curtis paved the way for the second Cougar touchdown of the quarter. From the 41-yard line, Smith threw an 11-yard completion to Ben Johnstone, who took the ball across midfield. Then, Smith hooked up with Dustin Crowell for a 48-yard touchdown pass that gave Chewelah a 13-0 lead with 4:27 left to play in the first quarter.

Caleb Wiebe’s pass interception and 38-yard return set up the third Cougar touchdown of the game. Beginning at the Riverside 32-yard line, they marched south until Smith took the ball across the goal line on a two-yard run. He then passed to Wiebe for the two-point conversion that widened the Cougar lead to 21-0

A short punt by the Rams gave the ball to Chewelah on the Riverside 34-yard line and set up the next Cougar touchdown. Smith completed passes to Johnstone and Bean, and then ran the final five yards himself. Curtis’s kick with 6:51 remaining in the first half gave Chewelah a 28-0 lead.

Another special teams error by the Rams gave the Cougars still another scoring opportunity before halftime. A bad snap to the punter was picked up, but not kicked. Instead, the punter decided to run. He was almost immediately sandwiched by Trey Barnett and Blake Owens, giving Chewelah the ball at the Riverside 25-yard line. From there, Smith threw a touchdown pass to Johnstone. Curtis’s kick gave the Cougars a 35-0 lead with 3:37 remaining in the half.

Riverside scored its lone touchdown of the game as time ran out in the first half. The Cougars allowed a 33-yard run that was compounded by a 15-yard facemasking penalty. The Rams then scored on a one-yard run and added the extra-point kick to get on the scoreboard, 35-7.

Chewelah added three more touchdowns after halftime. A 55-yard pass from Smith to Bean took the ball to the Riverside 15-yard line. Five plays later, Smith threw a shovel pass to Johnstone for the touchdown. Curtis tacked on the extra-point kick for a 42-7 Cougar lead.

Three straight complete passes, one to Bean and the other two to Wiebe provided another third quarter score for Chewelah. Wiebe’s second catch went across the goal line for a 48-7 Cougar lead.

A fumble by the Rams deep in their own territory was recovered by Hunter Daniels giving Chewelah its final scoring opportunity. From the nine-yard line, Jordan Lambert ran the ball twice, scoring on his second carry. The extra-point kick by Curtis brought scoring to a close with the Cougars on top, 55-7.

Chewelah got another peak performance out of its defense on Friday night. The Cougars limited Riverside to one touchdown and only 156 yards of total offense. The Rams completed one of 12 passes for 14 yards. They ran the ball 36 times for 142 yards.

Sophomore linebacker Blake Owens led the Cougars with 10 tackles, including three behind the line of scrimmage. Ben Johnstone and Dustin Olson each had five. Stephen Zerr and Sam Cobb had four apiece. Cobb’s were all on kickoffs.

Olson and Tommy Norman each had a quarterback sack. Olson leads the team in sacks with 10 for the season.

“Here’s the statistic I like,” said Fisk, pointing to the spot on the sheet labeled ‘Turnovers’. “We did not give up the ball. We had no fumbles and no intercepted passes”

Riverside, however, gave up a fumble and two interceptions.

“The pass interceptions by Wiebe and Curtis gave us 20 for the year,” said Coach Pat Gaffney. “That’s an average of over two per game.”

The Chewelah defense has been preparing all week to stop the Okanogan running attack that defeated Omak last weekend, 40-0. The Cougars hope to dominate the Bulldogs this Friday, just like they stopped Riverside last Friday.

This year’s District 6/7 Crossover Playoff will again feature Friday games between the top four teams in both leagues playing against each other. Those matchups will be:

• Okanogan (CTL 4) at

Chewelah (NEA 1)

• Quincy (CTL 3) at Freeman

(NEA 2)

• Medical Lake (NEA 3) at

Cascade (CTL 2)

• Lakeside (NEA 4) at Cashmere

(CTL 1)

The winners of Friday night’s games will be seeded into this year’s state championship bracket.

Northeast A League

Chewelah 6 – 0

Freeman 5 – 1

Medical Lake 4 – 2

Lakeside 3 – 3

Newport 2 –4

Riverside 1 – 5

Kettle Falls 0 – 6

Last week’s games

Chewelah 55, Riverside 7

Newport 27, Kettle Falls 16

Freeman 18, Medical Lake 7

Lakeside did not play

Caribou Trail League

Cashmere 7 – 0

Cascade (Leavenworth) 6 – 1

Quincy 5 – 2

Okanogan 4 – 3

Chelan 3 – 4

Tonasket 2 – 5

Omak 1 – 6

Brewster 0 – 7

By Geno Ludwig, The Independent Staff

In This Photo: The Chewelah Cougar Football team was in high spirits Friday night celebrating with their trophy their Northeast 1A League Championship and a perfect 6-0 league season completed after beating Riverside 55 to 7!