MONTPELIER — Tyson Moser’s hat kept shaking back and forth. The West Side coach pursed his lips and tried to make sense of what just happened, of how to feel.
His team won, so he should be excited. But, boy, the Pirates’ 7-0 win over Bear Lake on Friday night was ugly.
“I’m not sure how I feel right now. I’m happy with how our kids played, but I’m sure not happy with the outcome of the game,” Moser said. “Not happy with the performance … I’m kind of mixed emotions. I’m extremely frustrated, but I’m not that frustrated with our kids.”
No, they played hard in a game that boosted their winning streak to 15. This wasn’t like two weeks ago, when West Side’s ego inflated and it pulled out a 14-6 victory over Marsh Valley, one most players on the team said should have been a loss. No, in West Side’s opinion, this was a game that should have been over by halftime.
“We should have beat them by a lot more, to be honest,” said quarterback and defensive back Blaize Brown. “I give (our performance) like a C+.”
Added Moser: “I didn’t expect us to score seven points. I feel like we should have scored four or five times.”
So why didn’t they? Blame the refs, blame 16-year-olds making mental errors, blame whatever. Truth is, when you have 13 penalties for 105 yards — half of which came in the fourth quarter alone — a slam dunk turns into a 3-pointer.
And in five of West Side’s six trips to the red zone, they missed.
“It seemed like we’d get there (the red zone) and then we’d get a penalty,” Moser said. “It’s not like every one was a bad call, I know some of them were (the right call), but, boy, I tell you what, there were an awful lot of penalties coming from the sidelines that killed our drives.”
At times the PA announcer had trouble trying to do the math on the down-and-distance after all the penalties, once just yelling “third-and-Geneva,” referencing the town 17 miles east of Bear Lake High. Sometimes, it felt that far. On some Pirate drives, you could have taken a picture of the action and there’d be no orange sticks in the frame, penalties had pushed Moser’s team back so much.
What kept the Pirates in the game was a defense that never even bent, let alone broke. Bear Lake (2-3, 0-1) started eight possessions Friday night. Here’s how they ended: Fumble; interception; punt; punt; punt; interception; interception; punt; clock ran out. In 39 plays, West Valley held the Bears to under 150 yards of total offense and, more impressively, never let Bear Lake even cross the 40-yard line.
“I think some of the best pass protection is pressure,” Moser said. “And I thought our guys did a great job getting pressure on (Bear Lake quarterback Owen Teuscher), especially early in the game. We got to him several times, and that starts to wear on a quarterback later in the game.”
Brown can tell you all about that. Perhaps no one benefited from his defensive line’s pressure than the junior. He snatched two interceptions, both on passes which, if caught by Bear Lake, would have pushed the Bears past the West Side 40. His first pick will probably lead his highlight film for the next two years, as the video shows him diving for a pass that ricocheted off his teammate six yards away from him and coming up with a highlight-reel catch.
“Honestly, I was staring at the quarterback, looking right at (the ball),” Brown said. “It just bounced in the air and I said, ‘I have to dive for it.’ I dove for it and got both hands under it.”
Even a play that spectacular couldn’t add numbers to the scoreboard.
“I thought it was going to be higher-scoring,” Bear Lake coach Ryan Messerly said. “I knew their defense was tough and our offense when it’s rolling, it’s rolling.”
Messerly preached discipline to his team all week. And if the film of West Side’s wing-T offense wasn’t formidable enough, Tuesday’s Idaho high school media poll didn’t hurt. The Pirates were again ranked no. 1 in the 2A classification, the only 11-man squad in Idaho to unanimously be selected to the top spot. In other words, a foe not to be messed with.
“With the wing-T, you have to be disciplined,” Messerly said. “As soon as you cheat, you can be exploited. That’s all we preached this week, was discipline. Everybody does their job. If you’re an inside guy, you’re not worried about a sweep, you have to take care of the inside.”
And Bear Lake, with an impressive defensive showing, did have hope. Matthew Hammond’s 39-yard run, his fourth-quarter interception, two 15-yard connections between Teuscher and receiver Dominik Zabriskie on its final drive and all those Pirate flags sparked optimism for the Bears — it just never lasted too long.
That might have been expected given West Side’s defense, which has still given up just 12 points this year. What wasn’t expected was a Pirate offense that has scored 131 points in four games to be held to just seven.
And, for that, though it didn’t end in a win, Bear Lake may the team feeling best about itself after Friday’s game.
“(I’ll tell my team) to keep their heads up,” Bear Lake coach Ryan Messerly said. “They’re ranked No. 1 in the state, (and) you just played with them for 48 minutes.”
WEST SIDE 7, BEAR LAKE 0
West Side 0 7 0 0
Bear Lake 0 0 0 0
WS — 4-yard TD run by Cristian Plancarte (Jackson Stewart kick)
RUSHING — WS: Cage Brokens 13-59, Parker Henderson 8-41, Joshua Reeder 8-35, Cristian Plancarte 3-13-1, Blaize Brown 4-7, Easton Shurtliff 3-4. BL: Matthew Hammond 7-72, Jaxon Garbett 2-3, Dominik Zabriskie 4-2, Brendon Burbank 1-1, Owen Teuscher 7-(-20).
PASSING — WS: Blaize Brown 7-12-85-0-2. BL: Owen Teuscher 9-19-76-0-3.
RECEIVING — WS: Bryler Shurtliff 3-54, Cage Brokens 3-22, Joshua Reeder 1-9. BL: Dominik Zabriskie 3-40, Matthew Hammond 2-22, Brendon Burbank 1-12, Jaxon Garbett 2-10, Wyatt Lloyd 1-7.