Bulldog shutout earns state berth

While uncharacteristically flying under the radar this season, Montesano will land in a familiar destination.

Tucker Ibabao and Elliot Mendenhall accounted for nearly 300 all-purpose yards and five touchdowns as the Bulldogs nailed down a state playoff berth with a 47-0 whitewash of Castle Rock in a district 1A crossover game Friday night at Aberdeen’s Stewart Field.

The Bulldogs (8-2) earned a state berth for the seventh consecutive year, but their first as something other than a league champion for the first time since 2004. They’ll hit the road for the opening round of state next weekend, probably against Charles Wright Academy in the Tacoma area.

It will also perpetuate a strange season in which the Bulldogs were state-ranked with a 1-2 record but were dropped from the top 10 in the midst of a seven-game winning streak in which their average victory margin was 45 points.

Monte coach Terry Jensen had few complaints about his team’s performance last night. Ibabao rushed for 112 yards on 10 carries and scored two touchdowns, while Mendenhall amassed 89 yards rushing and 80 more in receptions while scoring three times.

With the exception of a drive that reached the Monte 5-yard line early in the second quarter, the Dogs were able to keep Castle Rock’s ground game in check. They also came up with five turnovers.

“Pretty solid all-around,” Jensen said. “With the exception of that one drive, I thought our defense played exceptional. And, for the most part, we were able to execute our offense.”

Montesano even mastered the unintentional fumblerooski.

Ibabao fumbled while breaking free on a run to the right, scooped up the loose ball several yards ahead and continued on a 46-yard gain — his team’s longest scrimmage play of the night — to set up Monte’s second touchdown.

“That wasn’t planned,” Jensen noted with a chuckle.

The Bulldogs scored on their first three possessions.

After forcing the Rockets into a three-and-out on the game’s opening possession, they motored 59 yards in 13 plays. Wide receiver Ben Ohashi made a leaping catch of Matthew Jensen’s 12-yard pass on fourth-and-11 to keep the drive alive. Ibabao weaved 8 yards to the end zone two plays later.

Anthony Louthan, who kicked the first five PATs, made it 7-0 with 5:56 remaining in the first quarter.

Ibabao’s long run, accompanied by a Rocket personal foul penalty, set up the Bulldogs on the Castle Rock 3-yard line moments later. Mendenhall took it in from there.

Castle Rock punter Luke Peoples went to a knee fielding a low snap from center late in the first quarter, giving the Bulldogs possession on the Rocket 7-yard line.

Monte needed only two plays to convert, with Mendenhall scoring from two yards out.

Ibabao’s 11-yard sweep, after Evan Bialkowsky recovered a Rocket fumble, was the only touchdown of the second quarter. Louthan’s conversion gave the Bulldogs a 28-0 lead at intermission.

Mendenhall’s 7-yard touchdown run and Matthew Jensen’s 1-yard quarterback sneak (after completing passes to three different receivers) made it 41-0 and implemented the 40-point running clock mercy rule with 6:56 remaining in the third quarter.

The Bulldogs added one more TD in the third period, when Louthan scampered 55 yards on an interception return.

Reserves on both sides played the fourth quarter.

Hutton Napier, an impressive freshman, had a couple of quarterback sacks for the Bulldogs. Coach Jensen also cited the defensive play of Louthan, Mendenhall, Ibabao, Matthew Jensen and Jake Massoth.