Bulldogs thump Bobcats in opener

MONTESANO — So much for the notion of Montesano being in a rebuilding mode.

Matthew Jensen passed for 198 yards and three touchdowns as the Bulldogs trounced Aberdeen, 38-0, in a non-league season football opener Friday night at Rottle Field.

This was only Montesano’s second undisputed victory in the rivalry, which was revived this year following an 82-year absence.

Unable to match the much bigger Bobcats’ size, the quicker Bulldogs simply went around and over them.

“That was the game plan, to try and get outside and get their guys tired,” Monte coach Terry Jensen confirmed.

Nevertheless, the Bulldogs were most effective in the air. Technically Monte’s only returning offensive starter from last year’s state 1A semifinal team, Matthew Jensen completed 10 of 15 passes. He also ran for a touchdown.

“They just reloaded,” Aberdeen assistant coach Rich VanVolkinburg commented.

The Bulldogs were far from flawless, as Coach Jensen was quick to note. They had three touchdowns nullified by penalties, although they wound up scoring later on all three possessions.

“I thought Aberdeen played hard,” the coach said. “We learned a lot from this game. A lot of mistakes, a lot of penalties. But, overall, not a bad first game for having a lot of new guys.”

First-year Aberdeen head coach Terry Dion also regarded the contest as a learning experience.

“Some of it was them and some of it was us,” he said. “It’s hard for us to see that kind of speed in practice. This was a great opportunity for us to evaluate players and schemes and learn from it.”

The Bulldogs squandered a prime scoring chance early. Bobcat punter Justin Berkley was unable to handle a low snap from center on an attempted punt in the opening two minutes, giving Montesano first down on the AHS 11-yard line. But Aberdeen linebacker Lorenzo Ontiveros stuffed Matthew Jensen on a fourth-down run.

The county seat club shrugged off that missed opportunity, however, by scoring on its next four possessions.

A short punt moments later gave Montesano possession on Aberdeen’s 28-yard line. Elliot Mendenhall promptly motored 21 yards on a counter and Tucker Ibabao got to the outside two plays later on a 6-yard scoring run.

Mendenhall kicked the first of his five successful conversions.

Unfazed by a block-in-the-back penalty that wiped out Ben Ohashi’s 59-yard punt return for an apparent touchdown, the Bulldogs covered 65 yards in nine plays on their next possession. Jensen hit a wide-open Mendenhall over the middle on a 12-yard scoring strike with four seconds remaining in the first quarter.

Jensen connected with Ohashi on a 37-yard scoring pass and ran 5 yards for another TD to make it 28-0 at the half.

The last Montesano touchdown represented Jensen’s most impressive throw of the contest. The senior quarterback was perfectly on target on a 40-yard scoring bomb to Ohashi, who was tightly covered on a deep corner route.

Mendenhall’s 30-yard field goal at the third-quarter horn closed out the scoring.

Aberdeen’s biggest threat came late in the first half. Fullback Bryceson Talley had a 9-yard run and quarterback Veek Cheema a pair of 8-yard scrambles as the Bobcats advanced as far as the Montesano 25 before losing the ball on downs.

Ibabao was the game’s leading rusher with 63 yards on 10 carries. Talley logged 56 yards on 13 carries.

Montesano’s defense limited the Cats to six first downs. Mendenhall, Jake Massoth and Anthony Louthan drew the praise of Bulldog coaches.

Dion cited the defensive work of freshman Joel Dublanko at outside linebacker.

Ontiveros and Kaleb Levao had some good stops in the first half for the Bobcats.

Next up for the Bobcats is the 107th renewal of their rivalry with Hoquiam, this contest scheduled for Friday night at Stewart Field.

The Bulldogs also have a big game on tap, visiting traditional state power Cascade Christian on Saturday.