Cats devour Spudders to set up playoff

After taking care of business at Stewart Field, the Bobcats received the news they wanted to hear from down south.

Drew Stocker rushed for 163 yards and four touchdowns as Aberdeen kept its playoff hopes alive with a 52-7 thumping of Ridgefield in a Greater St. Helens 2A League football finalé Friday night.

The Bobcats (2-3, 4-5) needed both a victory Friday and a Hockinson win at Washougal to force a three-way tie for the league’s third and final district crossover berth.

Both those occurrences materialized, with Hockinson beating the Panthers, 27-14. That sets a three-way Kansas Tiebreaker playoff involving the Bobcats, Hockinson and Washougal at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Kelso.

“We play on,” AHS athletic director Ken Ashlock told Bobcat coach Terry Dion as he left the field.

The Cats entered Friday’s contest heavily favored over the winless Spudders. They wasted little time demonstrating their superiority, scoring on all but one first-half possession in building a 45-0 lead at intermission.

The second half was played under the 40-point running clock mercy rule.

“I was proud of our guys responding when there was something on the line,” Dion said.

The Bobcats weren’t flawless in this one. For a time, it appeared that their penalty yardage (90) would surpass Ridgefield’s total offense (123).

But Aberdeen specialized in big plays.

One of 16 seniors making their final home appearance, Stocker scored on runs of 50, 19, 17 and 14 yards. Classmate Austin Floch broke a 75-yard touchdown run and took a 78-yard scoring pass from Joel Dublanko.

Even 270-pound senior lineman Kaleb Levao got into the act, nearly going the distance from midfield when he was inserted into the backfield in the second half. He was pushed down on the Spudder 1-yard line, setting up Aberdeen’s final TD on Collin Martin’s 1-yard run in the third quarter.

Aberdeen’s offensive line deserved much of the credit, opening gaping holes for Stocker and Floch.

“Speed was a big thing, too,” Dion added. “When we got loose, they couldn’t catch us. Twenty-yard runs turned into touchdowns.”

Dion proudly noted that his team also avoided the turnovers that have been a season-long malady.

Aberdeen was equally dominant on the defensive side of the ball, particularly early in the contest. Only one of Ridgefield’s first 10 scrimmage plays went for positive yardage.

Lorenzo Ontiveros ignited the rout by blocking a Ridgefield punt at the end of the game’s opening possession.

Taking over on the Spudder 30, the Bobcats needed four plays to convert, with Stocker hitting the left side on a 14-yard scoring jaunt.

David Housden, perfect on four conversion kicks, tacked on the PAT. Dublanko ran for a trio of 2-point conversions.

Stocker got to the edge on a pitch-out to the left and motored 19 yards to the end zone with 3:23 remaining in the first quarter. Dublanko’s conversion run made it 15-0.

Then, as the first-quarter horn sounded, Dublanko found Floch on a mid-range pass near the Aberdeen 45-yard line. Floch slipped a tackle at about midfield and went the distance to complete a 78-yard catch and run. That was Dublanko’s only completion (on just two passes) of the game.

Floch’s 75-yard burst and Stocker’s final two touchdowns, on runs of 50 and 17 yards, closed out the first-half scoring.

The Bobcats utilized reserves for nearly the entire second half.

Dion gave his entire defensive unit high marks. Senior linemen Chase Johnson and Cory Mays were among the most active defenders.

Ontiveros, however, was ejected following a first-half incident and will be forced to miss one more game.