A depleted roster and the lingering sting of last week’s shutout loss did not prevent Grays Harbor from putting its best foot forward against Kitsap on Saturday afternoon.
The injury-riddled Bearcats overcame their obstacles and crushed the visiting Bears, 31-6 in a Pacific Football League game at Aberdeen’s Stewart Field.
“We’re down a dozen guys right now,” Grays Harbor head coach Todd Hoiness said. “A lot of guys played on both sides of the ball, and this hot day took a toll on us by the end of the game. It was just a great effort by the whole team on offense and defense. The coaches and the players did a great job of rallying around each other and making it work. We were worried about this heat since we were missing so many guys. I was very proud of them.”
Grays Harbor (3-1 in league, 4-1 overall) was missing two of its best wide receivers, Chris Jackson and Jeremy Walker, due to injury. The Bearcats utilized a few players who usually play defensive back — Robby Lisle, Brandon Johnson and Jake Early — to fill the vacant receiver spots.
“We had to do some simple stuff that they could learn in a day,” Hoiness said of his patchwork receiving corps. “We knew we could get some guys open, but the problem was a lot of those guys were playing on defense, too.”
Lisle shined on both sides of the ball and was cited by Hoiness for his overall play. In fact, the defensive back played a role in each of the Bearcats’ touchdowns.
In the first quarter, Lisle found himself wide open in the middle of the end zone and caught a 22-yard touchdown pass from David Evans. The extra point by Heledio Sanchez gave Grays Harbor a 7-0 lead.
In the second quarter, Lisle tipped a pass thrown by Kitsap quarterback Nick LaFontaine up in the air. Grays Harbor linebacker Jack Traxtle managed to get to the ball, make a sensational fingertip catch just before the ball hit the ground and run it back 30 yards for a score. Another successful extra point by Sanchez put Grays Harbor up 14-6.
In the third quarter, Evans threw a bullet to Lisle’s outside shoulder on a stop route. Lisle spun off the defender and followed his blockers downfield for his second receiving touchdown of the game, this one from 32 yards out. Sanchez added the extra point, giving the Bearcats a commanding 24-6 lead.
Lisle found himself with the ball in his hands and the end zone in his sights once again in the fourth quarter after he baited LaFontaine into throwing a quick pass. He promptly picked off the pass. Lisle weaved through traffic and returned the interception 35 yards for his third touchdown of the game. Sanchez’ fourth successful extra point capped the scoring, giving Grays Harbor a 31-6 lead.
The Bearcats were also playing without two of their top three running backs, Jeff Gates and Vincent McCrory. Grays Harbor lost another running back when Raymond Banuelos went down with a knee injury in the fourth quarter.
Cameron Smith performed admirably as the team’s feature back. Smith rushed 18 times for 91 yards, and caught two passes out of the backfield for 16 yards.
Other notable Bearcats players that were out due to injury were offensive lineman Jeremy Foulds, who Hoiness called the team’s most versatile offensive lineman, and Chris Cook, who plays multiple positions on offense and defense.
The Bears’ only touchdown was scored on a two yard run by Anthony Galloway, set up by a 78-yard scamper by Michael Talley. Talley lead the Bears in rushing with 154 yards on 15 carries.
Grays Harbor will travel to Portland on Saturday to take on the defending Pacific Football League champion Monarchs.
Kit 0 6 0 0 – 6 GH 7 10 7 7 – 31
First Downs 11 14
Passing Yards 53 172
Rushing Yards 238 121
Total Yards 291 293
Passing 5-23 12-26
Had Intercepted 2 0
Fumbles Lost 1 1
Penalty Yards 60 38