Scheduling and Morton-White Pass combined to slow No. 1 Napavine more than anyone has so far this season early, but the Tigers rode a shutdown defensive effort and hit their offensive stride in the second half to still come away 45-0 winners on Thursday in a SWW North showdown.
“It was a struggle,” Napavine coach Josh Fay said. “You see the final score, but that was the most we’ve had to work.”
The Tigers were coming off a late game last week, making the trip all the way up to Bellingham on Saturday, giving themselves one less day to recover. Then the Thursday game meant another day less to prepare for the T-Wolves this time around, and early, it showed.
“The short week was hard for us,” Fay said. “Playing Saturday and turning around to Thursday… I think our guys were tired. But that’s an excuse, and this was a great challenge for us.”
But while Napavine’s offense had its early struggles – compared the rest of its outings, at least – the defense more than picked up the slack. MWP managed just four first downs all game, finishing with 15 total yards of offense. All of those came through the air; despite Carter Dantinne grinding out 18 yards for the T-Wolves, negative plays evened them out to a flat 0 on the ground.
Mario Lara had a big part to play in that, getting into the MWP backfield for five sacks.
And once the offense did come for the Tigers, it came in force on the ground. Of Napavine’s 534 total yards, 450 came from the rushing attack. Austin Chapman led the way with 149 yards on eight carries, scoring touchdowns from 52, 36, and 13 yards out. Ashton Demarest went for 137 rushing yards – he also finished 5 for 16 for 50 passing yards – while Cael Stanley hit paydirt twice on 12 rushes for 78 yards.
Morton-White Pass (4-2, 2-2 league) will get a bye, before getting its second game of the season against Ilwaco; the T-Wolves beat the Fishermen 44-8 to open their season.
Napavine (6-0, 3-0 league) gets a beneficial long week before another home game, next Friday against Ilwaco.
“We’re going to take a day off,” Fay said. “We don’t do that too often at Napavine, but we’re going to take a Friday off and give these kids a chance to be a kid, and get back on Monday.”