Cusson’s big night leads Cardinals past Acorns

Sophomore tailback runs for 287 yards, 5 TDs in 63-40 Winlock win


OAKVILLE — James Cusson had a monstrous performance to follow up Friday evening, and the sophomore tailback tried to do so with an all-around starring effort.

The results, to the ultimate nit-picker, were mixed — both of his pass attempts on trick plays were picked off, after all. But nobody could argue with how he did in his primary capacity as Winlock’s main man on the ground, as Cusson plowed for 287 yards and five touchdowns to lead the Cardinals to a 63-40 win over Oakville in 1B league play.

“James had a night,” Winlock coach Ernie Samples said.

And he started quickly. After Oakville took the opening kickoff, the Acorns went four-and-out, and on Winlock’s first play from scrimmage, Cusson took a handoff and broke from for a 35-yard score.

On the Acorns’ second drive, Landen Cline came down with an interception and took it back to the house, though the score was wiped out for a penalty on the return. All that meant was more yards for Cusson — 37 on a big gain to set the Cardinals (2-3, 2-1 1B) up with first-and-goal, and 4 more to get back in the end zone.

This time, Cusson — who also starts at linebacker for Winlock — lined up for the extra point and drilled it, adding a third phase to his game.

“He is trying to do everything,” Samples said. “We showed teams that we might kick, and that’ll help our fake game.”

But most of Cusson’s damage came on the ground. A week after racking up 366 rushing yards, the sophomore averaged nearly 12-and-a-half yards per carry and would score three more times before the night was out.

“He was just hitting the hole,” Samples said. “He’s a hard, strong, tough kid. We’ve had to adjust him a bit to just run to contact and then wiggle. His vision is great. He’s a fun kid to coach.”

Mason Ruiz added two rushing touchdowns for the Cardinals, who racked up 364 rushing yards. Quarterback Landen Cline threw for one score and ran for another, finishing 4 for 4 through the air for 89 yards.

On the opposite sideline, everything good for the Acorns (1-5, 1-3 1B) came through the air, as Oakville spent most of the game in the negatives rushing. Giovanni Rodas went 17 for 30 for 376 yards and six touchdowns, though, keeping the Acorns in it with big plays.

Five of those touchdowns went to leading receiver Daniel Rodas, who logged 13 catches for 258 yards.

Winlock chose to counter Oakville’s downfield passing game with heavy pressure, forcing Gio Rodas to move before his receivers could get downfield and tagging him for five sacks.

The Cardinals also came down with three interceptions — two by Cline and another by Mason Ruiz — and recovered three fumbles.

“Getting those takeaways was huge, because they weren’t really slowing us down or stopping us,” Samples said. “That helped get us to our 63.”

It’s the second straight win for the Cardinals, after they started the season with three losses and a cancellation.

“It feels good,” Samples said. “We kind of washed that first half of the season away, and now we’re trying to take care of business. We’ve got a shot of finishing third or fourth and getting that extra game. That’s the goal.”

Winlock will head north again to take on Muckleshoot Tribal next Friday, while Oakville will face Sound Christian in Lakewood.