Under a brand new set of stadium lights, the Nestucca High School football team offense shined bright during Homecoming Friday.
The Bobcats hosted Northwest League rival Gaston on Oct. 4. After losing a heartbreaker last week to Neah-Kah-Nie, Nestucca got back to their winning ways Friday night by playing a solid game on both sides of the ball.
“We really stressed playing a clean game,” head coach Tim Foster said. “So, to come out and not commit any turnovers or major penalties was big for us. From there, it was about executing on offense and we did a good job of that. And for the third week in a row, our defense played really well.”
The Bobcats wasted no time getting on the board, scoring on a long touchdown run by sophomore Jaysson Swirtz-Ferdig in the first quarter. Later in the first, senior quarterback Ben Hurliman scored on a short run and a pair of extra points by junior Dawson Marsh gave Nestucca a 14-0 lead after the first quarter.
"Our offensive line played their best game of the season,” Foster said. “We've had a couple guys in and out of the lineup, but everyone was healthy Friday. They did a good job opening holes and protecting in the pass game.”
Nestucca continued the scoring barrage early in the second quarter, as Hurliman broke multiple tackles en route to a long touchdown run. Midway through the second, Hurliman found the endzone once again on a long run and just before the half he found junior Tyler Hagerty for a long touchdown throw and catch, giving the Bobcats a 33-0 lead at halftime.
On the night, Hurliman would finish 9-for-12 passing for 176 yards and one touchdown while running for 125 yards and three scores, while Hagerty caught two passes for 63 yards and the touchdown. Swirtz-Ferdig rushed for 120 yards and two touchdowns and fellow sophomore Skyler Wallace caught three passes for 79 yards.
But it wasn’t all about offense for Nestucca, the Bobcat defense came to play, giving up just one touchdown late in the game.
“Gaston likes to attack the edges, so we wanted to contain them and force the ball back to middle, and our guys did a great job,” Foster said. “We have a lot of experience on the defensive side of the ball and that has been big for us. Overall, they are playing with good discipline and all 11 guys were doing their job.”
Nestucca cruised to a 41-6 victory in the second half, giving them their second league win of the season. Unlike year’s past, the Bobcats will not be taking a bye week this year and they will instead play a non-league game this Friday against Sheridan. Coach Foster describes the Spartans as a fast and physical team that will be a quality opponent for his squad.
“They are good football team, and I think we match up well with them,” Foster said. “Our goal is going to be the same as normal, go in and play a clean game. We'll need to take care of the ball, execute well on offense, and play with discipline on the defensive side. If we do those things, we'll be in a good shape.”
Next week’s game is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Sheridan High School.