West Side overcame a slow start and an early 6-0 deficit Friday night at Firth.
The defending 2A state champions responded with 33 straight points and picked up the victory in the season opener.
“I thought we battled,” Pirate head coach Tyson Moser said. “Being down 6-0, the kids didn’t quit and I thought we came back and battled, I was proud of their effort that way.”
The Pirates were not gaudy by any means statistically, registering just 180 total yards in the 27-point victory. However, they ground the Cougars down as the game wore on and were able to capitalize as they got close to the end zone.
Junior Cage Brokens finished two drives in almost identical fashion, punching it in from two yards out on both occasions. Junior Parker Henderson was both the team’s leading rusher and receiver on the night, going for 68 total yards. Henderson also made one of the biggest scoring plays of the evening, a 22-yard touchdown reception from Blaze Brown.
“We have to clean up a lot of things and we’ve got a long way to go, but in the end it comes down to making plays and our kids made big plays,” Moser said. “I think Firth beat us statistically, but our kids made more big plays.”
PIRATES 33, COUGARS 6
Friday at Firth
West Side 8 7 12 6 — 33
Firth 6 0 0 0 — 6
F — G. Vasquez 1 run (kick failed)
WS — Owen Nielsen 3 run (Josh Reeder run)
WS — Parker Henderson 22 pass from Blaze Brown (Jackson Stewart kick)
WS — Cage Brokens 2 run (kick failed)
WS — Brokens run (kick failed)
West Side — Easton Shurtliff 16 pass from Brown (kick failed)
RUSSETS 33, INDIANS 19
It was baptism by fire for many Preston players Friday night in the season opener at Shelley.
Twenty athletes saw their first varsity action against the traditionally good Russets. For the most part, the Indians hung tough.
“We are just a young team,” Preston head coach Eric Thorson said. “We’ve got some growing pains. ... With the season we have ahead of us, we definitely need to grow and get better. This game was a discovery.”
The Tribe never held the lead but did knot the score at 6-6 in the early going and trailed at halftime, 13-12. Early in the fourth quarter they were just down seven.
“It was a pretty close game,” Thorson said. “We were hoping to win the game, like we do every game. The kids stayed with it and didn’t get on each other. We just need to grow and execute better at a varsity speed.”
Shelley opened the game with a score. Preston answered when quarterback Brecker Knapp found wide receiver Cole Harris for a 60-yard TD pass. Knapp and Harris would hook up again in the second quarter on a 40-yard scoring pass. Preston went for two to try and take the lead, but failed.
Knapp had 161 yards passing by halftime, and finished with 211 yards on 15 of 26 attempts.
Shelley controlled the ball for large chunks of time in the second half, despite turning the ball over twice. Preston came up with a fumble at midfield for the first turnover of the game by either team, but couldn’t get any closer than the 32 and turned the ball over on downs.
On the next Shelley possession, Tate Greene picked off a pass. However, the Preston offense then proceeded to have its first turnover of the game with an interception.
“There was a time when our defense was really giving us the ball on a silver platter and our offense couldn’t capitalize on it,” Thorson said.
Trailing 26-12, the Indians made it interesting when Tait Rawlings took a shovel pass from Knapp and turned it into a 52-yard TD with 11:11 to play.
Shelley answered with a 35-yard screen pass for the final points of the game.
Sports editor Shawn Harrison contributed to this story.