For Grays Harbor Bearcats head coach Todd Hoiness, it must be nice to know that even if his offense struggles, he can count on his defense and special teams to help his team to a victory.
The Bearcats used those elements to beat the South King County Colts, 26-13, in a Pacific Coast Football League game Saturfday night at Stewart Field.
The game could not have started much worse for Grays Harbor. South King County quarterback Leo Dickerson completed all four of his pass attempts on the Colts first drive, and capped it off with a 52 yard touchdown bomb to Anthony Montgomery. Grays Harbor followed that up by going three-and-out and losing six yards on its first offensive series.
Then the Bearcat defense found its groove. With the help of one of defensive end Ron Strozyk’s game- high three sacks, Grays Harbor pushed South King County backwards on the Colts’ next offensive series, and recorded a safety when a high snap bounced out the back of the end zone. The Bearcats forced another safety in the third quarter on a similar play.
After the first drive, the Colts offense managed only one first down the rest of the first half. That allowed the Bearcats to climb into the lead a little at a time.
“Our defense was solid all night, and we needed them to be while we worked through some stuff on offense” said Hoiness. “Ron Strozyk was a beast tonight. Nobody has really been able to block him all year. Joel Brown, our middle linebacker was really good tonight, too. He’s the best middle linebacker in the league.”
Late in the first quarter reserve running back Cameron Smith scampered into the end zone from four yards out to give the Bearcats an 11-7 lead that they would not relinquish.
Bearcat placekicker, Jadon Carossino, may have been Grays Harbor’s biggest offensive weapon in the game, converting field goals from 35, 36, and 39 yards. Carossino’s only miss was on a 51 yarder that was blocked.
“Jadon has done a great job for us, and he was awesome tonight” said Hoiness. “Our special teams has gotten better every week since the season started. Chris Jackson as a returner is amazing. He’s quicker than a hiccup.”
Jackson displayed impressive moves while returning three kicks for a total of 106 yards, and giving the Bearcats excellent field position on each return.
South King County’s defensive strategy was pretty easy to identify. The Colts kept seven or eight players near the line of scrimmage on every play in an attempt to contain Jeff Gates, the league’s leading rusher. Gates managed to rush for 71 yards and one touchdown on 20 carries despite having few holes to run through, but he was not the unstoppable force that he normally is.
“We juggled our line up around. Other than our center being a center, we didn’t have any guys playing in their normal spots,” said Hoiness “We’re not healthy right now. We are happy to come out with a win, and really happy for a bye week.”
South King County’s only other touchdown came on a five yard run by Tristan Gray in the fourth quarter that was set up by a 38-yard catch by Montgomery. Montgomery led all receivers with 101 yards on four catches.
The Bearcats (5-1, 6-1) return to action at home June 2 against the South Sound Shockers.
SKC 7 0 0 6 — 13
GH 12 3 5 6 — 26
Net Rushing 30 106
Net Passing 172 101
Total Net Yardage 202 207
Passing 13-21 14-28
Had Intercepted 1 2
Fumbles Lost 2 0
Yards Penalized 66 22