Despite experiencing a couple of minor hiccups along the way, Hoquiam’s Grizzlies celebrated a football milestone on Friday.
Nolan Hoiness rushed for 268 yards and four touchdowns as the Grizzlies nailed down at least a share of the Evergreen 1A League championship with a 42-3 rout of Tenino at rainswept Olympic Stadium.
Ranked fourth among state 1A teams, the Grizzlies (5-0, 8-0) clinched a piece of their first league title since 2003. They will enter postseason play as the league’s top-seeded club for the first time since 1979.
“They’re pretty excited about that,” HHS coach Jason Ronquillo said.
This was, however only the third time this season that the Grizzlies have played a full game without the running-clock mercy rule being implemented. Alternating quarterback keepers with power shots between the tackles, Tenino (3-2, 5-3) was able to keep Hoquiam’s high-powered offense off the field for long stretches at the time.
The Beavers enjoyed a huge advantage in time of possession. The Grizzlies had the ball for only 1:35 in the third quarter, while Tenino quarterbacks Mac Shaw and Devante Harris rushed for 169 yards between them.
“On Tenino’s behalf, I think they did a fantastic job of ball-control and clock management,” Ronquillo said. “We had a hard time getting the defense off the field.”
Once they did, however, the Grizzlies proved waterproof offensively during a game played in periodic rainstorms. They scored on their first three possessions and logged 405 yards of total offense.
Hoiness, who carried 21 times, was all but unstoppable when he got to the outside. Quarterback Evan Erickson also had a productive night rushing, logging 99 yards on the ground.
The Grizzlies needed only five plays and 95 seconds to open the scoring. Erickson went 42 yards on a keeper on the second scrimmage play. Moments later, Hoiness bounced to the outside and raced 37 yards to the end zone. Erickson ran for the conversion and an 8-0 lead.
Tenino chewed up more than six minutes on its first possession, covering 50 yards exclusively on the ground before Kendall Caldwell kicked a 28-yard field goal with 4:17 remaining in the first quarter.
Less than a minute later, the Grizzlies owned a 14-3 lead. After runs of 38 and 10 yards by Hoiness, Paul Girts went off tackle on a 10-yard scoring run. The conversion kick failed.
Hoiness added a 1-yard TD run at the 8:18 mark of the second quarter. Erickson tacked on the first of his four successful PAT kicks.
Receiving some good blocks at the corner, Hoiness threaded his way down the left sideline on a 45-yard scoring run that made it 28-3 at the half.
After having possession for all of six plays in the third quarter, the Grizzlies finally provided the exclamation point midway through the final stanza.
With his team facing fourth-and-two from its 43, Drew Bravos made barely enough forward progress on a fourth-down run from punt formation to keep the drive alive.
That set the stage for Hoiness’ 46-yard TD run with 6:20 remaining.
Bravos added a 4-yard scoring run with 1:17 left.
Hoiness, Erickson, Alex Munoz and Devin Kelly received Ronquillo’s post-game praise. Kelly had a couple of quarterback sacks, but suffered a shoulder stinger on one of them.
The Grizzlies will shoot for the undisputed league title when they host Forks on Senior Night next Friday.