Bearcats can’t cash in on hot starts, fall to Spudders


W.F. West got off to about the best start imaginable in the first half. Then the Bearcats did the same in the second.

But in between, things didn’t stay as high and happy, and the Bearcats dropped a back-and-forth Week 1 battle to Ridgefield 27-21 at Bearcat Stadium.

“It was just execution,” WFW coach Dan Hill said. “Things were there, and we just didn’t execute tonight.”

Kicking off to begin the game, the Bearcats kicked short, and bounced on a loose ball to take over on the right side of the 50-yard line. Six plays later, quarterback Gage Brumfield punctuated his first drive as the Bearcats’ starter under center with a 1-yard sneak to put the hosts up early.

That drive featured two offensive holding calls, that the Bearcats ultimately worked around. But the flags continued to fly against W.F. West all night, and soon began taking their toll.

W.F. West was called for five holds, along with a pair of false starts, in the first half alone, bringing back a pair of first downs and a touchdown.

“The first half, collectively, I think we played the worst half of football since I’ve been here,” Hill said. “We were shooting ourselves in the foot with penalties, way too many mistakes.”

The Bearcats found the end zone once more in the first half on a 48-yard Declan McDonald touchdown — which fittingly came right after a holding penalty — but went into halftime trailing 21-13.

Ridgefield got the bulk of its offense early on explosive plays, with six plays going for 25 yards or more in the first half, and three touchdowns in the second quarter.

“Pretty much every big play was a missed assignment,” Hill said. “There were a lot of mistakes today, and we coaches have to do a better job, especially me.”

Connor Coleman gave W.F. West a spark right out of halftime, taking the kickoff to start the third quarter 88 yards to the house, and Brumfield pulled a miracle play on the ensuing two-point conversion, scrambling to pick up a bad snap before taking a hit and finding McDonald in the end zone to tie the game up at 21-21.

The Bearcats forced a three-and-out and began to show signs of control, driving into the red zone on a steady dose of runs up the gut, but a fumble on the 16-yard line gave the Spudders the ball back.

Ridgefield retook the lead early in the fourth quarter, and while W.F. West drove down the field again, another possession ended in the red zone on a stuffed-run on fourth-and-1.

All told, 22 of W.F. West’s 27 offensive plays in the second half came in Ridgefield territory, but the Spudders held the Bearcats scoreless.

Brumfield finished 7 for 16 for 66 yards through the air, with no touchdowns and an interception late in the game to seal the loss. He also led the Bearcats on the ground with 87 yards on 15 carries.

“I thought Gage played well,” Hill said. “His effort was incredible.”

Tucker Land added 43 rushing yards, while Ross Kelley led the Bearcats with 48 receiving yards.

W.F. West will head up north for another stiff non-league test next Friday, taking on defending champions Lynden, which itself lost its opener.

“We’re going to learn from this, it’s a long season,” Hill said. “Looking forward to getting our nose to the grindstone and getting back at it on Monday, because we’ve got a long ways to go.”