Hoquiam’s likely final football game at Olympic Stadium this season was just like the others — the field held up well, the rain didn’t cause problems and the opponent couldn’t stop or drive on the Grizzlies.
Scoring on short-yardage drives in the first half and with long plays in the second half, fourth-ranked Hoquiam did its business against Toledo and walked away with a dominant 59-0 rout in this District IV 1A crossover game on Friday night.
Next week in the state 1A first round, Hoquiam (10-0) will host top-ranked King’s of Shoreline. Date, time and location to be determined later. The Grizzlies have the district’s No. 2 seed, while the Knights are the Dist. I-III No. 3 seed.
Even though they started all but two drives inside Toledo territory, the Grizzlies amassed 295 yards of offense in the first half to crack the Indians’ defense open like an egg. Overall, the hosts rumbled for 431 yards from scrimmage.
“I thought the execution went really well — the offense, the defense and the special teams,” HHS head coach Jason Ronquillo said. “The kids were clicking on all cylinders and played really well. Field position is always a big deal in the playoffs. If you let offenses get momentum, they will run with it. We wanted to make sure we had the field position tonight. I wanted to make sure all of the players who carry the ball and catch the ball had their chance to do so.”
Toledo (5-5) won the toss and deferred to choose in the second half. Hoquiam took the opening kickoff and never looked back.
Senior Nolan Hoiness scored the first of three rushing touchdowns of the first half by rumbling 34 yards on an option pitch for the score. Hoiness had just one carry in the second half and amassed 119 yards on 12 carries and three touchdowns. He also caught one touchdown pass, a 28-yard inside screen from Evan Erickson, in the second quarter.
Hoquiam’s defense provided all of the pressure and the work to give the offense a short field to work on. Toledo was held on fourth down on its first drive of the game. After that, the Grizzlies scored three consecutive times on drives of three plays or less.
Paul Girts ran a fly sweep to the right and sprinted 24 yards for a touchdown. Erickson threw his first touchdown of the game with two minutes left in the first quarter on a fade pass to tight end Cole Smith from 28 yards out at 21-0. Hoiness set up his own scoring drive with a 65-yard punt return deep into Indian territory. Two plays later, the senior ran 10 yards inside for the touchdown and a 27-0 score.
Toledo punter Mack Gaul kicked the ball into his own protection and set up another short field. On six straight plays, Erickson finished the 30-yard drive with a 1-yard keeper for a touchdown at 33-0.
In the final 3 1/2 minutes of the first half, Hoquiam secured the 40-point mercy rule running clock for the entire second half. Hoiness sprinted 20 yards on a pitch sweep for a touchdown and Erickson found Hoiness on that scoring inside screen with :01 left in the half for a 46-0 margin.
Hoquiam finished the scoring in the second half with just two plays — one on defense and one on offense.
On the Indians’ first drive of the half, Gaul coughed up a fumble that linebacker Ronnie Espedal picked up and ran back 55 yards for a touchdown. Fullback Drew Bravos ended Hoquiam’s first drive of the half on an inside run and sprinted away for a 70-yard touchdown run.
Bravos, who also ran a fake punt for a first down in the middle of the fourth quarter, finished just behind Hoiness on the rushing totals — three carries, 110 yards and one touchdown.