With a classic display of smash-mouth football, Tenino’s Beavers took a big bite out of Montesano’s postseason aspirations.
Scoring on their first three possessions, the Beavers manhandled the Bulldogs, 26-6, to spoil Monte’s Homecoming on Friday night at Aberdeen’s Stewart Field.
With its first victory over the Bulldogs in 17 years, Tenino (3-1, 3-4) remained in a virtual three-way tie with Rochester (which actually has a half-game lead) and Elma atop the Evergreen 1A League standings.
The reigning state 1A champion Bulldogs (also 3-4 overall) fell to 2-2 in league and may be forced to beat arch-rival Elma in two weeks merely to qualify for the district crossover playoffs.
Sophomore backs Calvin Guzman and Thomas Pier, coupled with a big, physical offensive line, did most of the damage for Tenino.
Operating from shotgun and pistol formations, the agile Guzman rushed for 141 yards and passed for 118 more. Pier, the foster brother of former Tenino standout Devante Harris, logged 43 yards rushing and 71 receiving.
The biggest difference, however, may have been up front. The brawny Beavers blew the Bulldog defenders off the line of scrimmage, particularly in the first half, to open gaping holes for the likes of Guzman, Pier and veteran running back Zack Chamberlain.
“They’re the most physical team we’ve played,” Monte coach Terry Jensen summed up. “They controlled the line of scrimmage and their backs ran real hard. They were a way better team than we were tonight. We’ve got to go back to the drawing board and fix what we can fix.”
“I was impressed with how hard we hit tonight,” Tenino coach Jeff Zenisek agreed.
With Anthony Louthan rushing for 106 yards, the Bulldogs moved the ball well at times, but were unable to finish drives.
Late-arriving spectators caught in a pre-game traffic snarl between Aberdeen and Montesano may have missed the pivotal early moments of the contest.
Running almost exclusively between the tackles, the Beavers put together a 77-yard scoring drive on the game’s opening possession. Their shortest gain on the 10-play drive was 4 yards and Pier bowled over a Bulldog defender to score from 5 yards out. The conversion kick failed.
Three plays after the ensuing kickoff, Tenino’s 285-pound lineman Jonathon Jones-Newmann recovered a Monte fumble on the Bulldog 49-yard line.
The Beavers needed six plays to convert that opportunity, with Guzman breaking at least two tackles on an 11-yard TD run with exactly five minutes remaining in the first quarter. Pier ran for the conversion and a 14-0 lead.
Guzman then went to the air successfully on Tenino’s third possession, completing all four of his passes for 39 yards. He finished off the drive with a 7-yard scoring run midway through the second quarter. A blocked kick left the Beavers with a 20-0 halftime lead.
Montesano’s only ray of hope came on the opening possession of the second half. Louthan ran for 11, 28 and 14 yards during that series to set up his 5-yard scoring burst. Louthan’s conversion kick hooked wide.
The Bulldogs quickly regained possession after forcing a Tenino three-and-out. They were unable to move the ball, however, and Tenino launched a 72-yard scoring drive on its next possession that essentially sealed the deal. Pier’s 5-yard run on that series concluded the scoring with 4:22 remaining in the third quarter. Jensen cited the play of Louthan on offense and sophomore Logan Truax on defense.
The Bulldogs travel to Rainier on Friday.