ONALASKA — Celebrating just one senior Thursday night in its final home regular season game of the year, one of the Onalaska football team’s goals of the game was to get ahead by enough to get that one senior — Nathaniel Conkey — into its game against Wahkiakum.
Though it got tense at times, the Loggers did enough to do just that, as Conkey saw the field on the Loggers final drive after they sealed a 50-28 win over the Mules.
“We wanted to get our senior in the game,” Loggers coach Mazen Saade said. “We had students cheering for him to get in and parents cheering and we got him in the game. He's a special kid and really special for our program.”
As an added bonus, the win ensured the Loggers finished tied for second in league, along with Adna and Kalama. Because no team holds head-to-head tiebreakers over both schools, a coin flip was needed to determine who would get hosting privileges and that coveted second seed for crossover play next week.
The Loggers won that coin flip, and will host Morton-White Pass next week.
But first things first, before any coin flips or drama off the field, the Loggers had to take care of business at home first.
“That was awesome, it was really awesome for our guys,” Saade said. “It’s been an interesting week. All week we’ve been preaching that you have to win to get in. Our goal every year is to get to the crossover and see how we shake. This team’s goal was to write their chapter and their story and get to that crossover.”
Thursday at home, they did just that. Getting off to a hot start, and 22 points in the first quarter, before gradually letting the Mules back into the game thanks to some critical errors in the second and third quarters.
But a fourth quarter burst from Rodrigo Rodriguez, who finished with four touchdowns and 222 rushing yards, and a pick six, helped Ony finish out the win. Kayden Mozingo added 108 rushing yards and a score, and two passing touchdowns to Cooper Lawrence, both in the first quarter.
“I’m proud of our guys and how they responded,” Saade said. “We came out on fire … we made some mistakes at the end of the half, but down the stretch we took a few timeouts and talked to our guys about digging and continuing to dig. Backs against the wall, we’re playing for something bigger than ourselves.”
After talk over the offseason about a potential changing of the guard in league play, the Loggers heard the noise and responded in kind, with just one senior on the roster. Headed into crossover play as the league runners-up, it's a brand new season for everyone.
“There was word this offseason that there was blood in the water and sharks circling in our league,” Saade said. “I’m proud of these guys for stepping up and getting it done, battling to make this crossover. But we can’t settle. We’ve got to be ready to play against a good Morton-White Pass team next week.”