Bobcat Football returned to the state playoffs after a six year absence, earning a spot by finishing with a 5-2 record and finishing third in the NWL. The matchup with the #2 ranked Kennedy Trojans, most people’s pick as State Champion co -favorites, was going to be tough. The Cats players and coaches worked hard for two weeks (week 9 bye) to prepare for the challenge.
Things looked promising as the Bobcats defense forced a Trojan three and out after they received the opening kickoff from Draven Marsh. The Cats looked fired up, and there was heavy hitting all over the field. Kennedy came out passing, all three plays were passing plays (2 incomplete). The Cats couldn’t move the ball either on their first possession, and a really good punt by Diego Ponce was returned into Nestucca territory. This time Kennedy was able to put together a drive, and scored on a short run at the 6 minute mark in the first period.
The Bobcats, so far playing the much bigger Kennedy team straight up, suffered an interception followed by a 25 yard TD pass to fall behind 14-0 at the end of one.
The Bobcats offense rallied, putting together a drive at the start of the second. Senior QB Skyler Wallace put together two outstanding runs for a first down, then fellow senior Jaysson Swirtz added another first down with two gritty runs of his own. It looked like the Cats were in business! An unfortunate interception gave Kennedy the ball, and they took the ball down the field for another short TD run. Wallace blocked the PAT, now 20-0 Kennedy.
The Cats offense showed promise the next possession, as once again Wallace ran over and through tacklers for a 10 yard gain and a first down. A penalty and tackle for loss forced the Cats to go on 4th down in their own territory, but the Kennedy defense put the clamps down and stopped Swirtz short. A screen pass on 4th and 9 allowed JFK to keep a touchdown drive alive, this time also adding a 2 point conversion to go up 28-0.
Swirtz had a hard charging 40 yard kickoff return into Kennedy territory, but a Bobcat fumble on the first play ended that drive and allowed the Trojans a chance to throw a 60 yard TD pass to end the half with a 35-0 lead.
The running clock (in high school football the clock runs except for timeouts if one team gets ahead by 35 points) made the second half fly by. The Cats defense continued to make plays and hit hard, causing at least two fumbles. Wallace was all over the field making tackles, and Ponce stopped at least one drive with a run stuffing tackle at the line of scrimmage. The only scoring was a 35 yard field goal for Kennedy. It looked at times as if Nestucca would mount a drive to score, but one drive was stopped on a Kennedy interception of a halfback pass, and one other with a fumble. When Jared Straessle caught a Wallace pass for a 15 yard gain on 4th down the Bobcats fans were hopeful for a score, but the drive ended with a turnover on downs. Final score 38-0. Kennedy moves on to play Gaston in the next round. The Bobcats can look back on a very successful season, and look forward to hearing about post season awards. Great job all around by players, dealing with Covid protocols, canceled and rescheduled games, and some pretty nasty October and November weather! Head coach Jeff Schiewe and assistants Jim Kiser and Tevin Gianella did a great job dealing with all the above plus the loss of three key players, but still putting the team in position to be successful.