MONTESANO — Montesano scored early and often, dominating all phases of the game in its triumphant return to Jack Rottle Field, 70-0, over Rainier in an Evergeen 1A League matchup.
This win marked Montesano’s first game at its home field since a fire burned the grandstands to the ground on Sept. 17.
“It was really important to our seniors,” Montesano head coach Terry Jensen said. “They wanted to play one more time out here. Having the bleachers burned down devastated them a bit. Thinking that they would never play here again was a shock, and something they weren’t prepared for. For them to be able to play out here again is pretty special. We owe a big thanks to our administration and all the people who helped make this happen.”
Montesano’s senior quarterback Matthew Jensen shined on Senior Night. Jensen completed all eight of his pass attempts for 126 yards and three touchdowns before coming out of the game in the middle of the second quarter with the Bulldogs leading, 49-0. Jensen also scored a touchdown on the ground.
“That was our plan, to come out and throw early,” Jensen added. “We had an idea what the outcome would be, and we didn’t want to be out there passing late in the game, or in the second quarter, so we tried to come out and throw early. Matthew was on. He played really well, but everyone played well tonight.”
In the entire first half, not one play started on Montesano’s side of the 50-yard line. During the first two quarters, the Bulldogs forced four turnovers on downs, recovered two Mountaineer fumbles, and Elliot Mendenhall intercepted a pass. During that stretch, the only Rainier drive that ended in a punt was returned 45 yards by Ben Ohashi near the end of the first quarter.
Everything seemed to go right for Montesano in this game. It began with its first touchdown, which bounced off of a defender who was not looking, and into the outstretched arms of Shad Rogers. It was punctuated by its final extra point, which hit the crossbar and bounced through the uprights.
Jensen found Richard Smith in the back of the end zone from five yards out for his second passing touchdown, and hit Rogers on a fade in the right corner for his third score through the air.
The last game that Montesano played at Jack Rottle Field before the fire was a 41-14 loss to the still undefeated Hoquiam Grizzlies on September 14th. The loss to Hoquiam in week three was Montesano’s first league loss since 2005. Since starting the season 1-2, the Bulldogs have won five games in a row by an average of 45 points.
“We found out that we weren’t a very good football team at the beginning of the season, and we had to get a lot better,” Jensen said. “Our kids took that as a challenge, and each week, our goal is to get better every day. We talk about getting 1 percent better every day. If we have 40 players, then we need to get 40 percent better every day, and our kids have really responded. They practice hard, and want to get better. It’s really a special group.”
Six different Bulldogs rushed for touchdowns in this game. Jensen, Zack Nelson, Tucker Ibabao, and Patrick Donnelly all rushed for scores in the first half. The only two touchdowns in the second half were scored on a 7-yard run by Tanner Birdsall in the third quarter, and a 5-yard run by freshman Kyle Englund with 44 seconds left in the game.
On Friday, Montesano hits the road to take on Elma in the East County Civil War in Elma.