SOUTH BEND — Willapa Valley hit the ground running, literally, against rival South Bend on Friday night.
Taking over at their own 1-yard line following an Indian turnover, the Vikings got a 96-yard touchdown sprint by Anthony Sagen to kick-start a 47-0 non-league victory at Millam Field in South Bend.
Willapa Valley ran off 369 yards rushing on the night, 205 of them in the first half, against a shorthanded South Bend squad. Seth Flemetis ran for three touchdowns, Trevor Cook ran for another touchdown and recovered a fumble in the end zone and Jason Fluke ran for a score for the Vikings.
“We were hoping to pass some, break in our young quarterback (Fluke), but it just didn’t seem to work out for us,” Willapa Valley head coach Greg Wonhoff said. “South Bend did a very good job of covering our short receivers, so we had to go long. Our running backs, especially Seth Flemetis — what a wonderful runner and the effort he put forth — was solid. Trevor Cook was so quick and Anthony Sagen, he is so quick as well. We are blessed with running backs.”
The hosts opened the game with their best drive of the night, a six-play, 64-yard drive that put the Vikings’ defense on their heels. However, on a quarterback keeper run, junior Austin Lewis lost the football and Flemetis recovered it at the 1-yard line.
On Valley’s first play, Flemetis ran inside for 3 yards. The next play, Sagen hit a counter run, bounced off his own teammate on the right corner of the line and sprinted 96 yards down the sideline for the game’s opening touchdown.
“We showed flashes of being OK, but we can’t sustain it offensively or defensively,” South Bend head coach Tom Sanchez said. “On that first drive, we moved down the field and we got a break or two. We just need to learn how to handle adversity a little bit better. We would compound that with another mistake and suddenly, it blows up.”
“South Bend came out fired up and we were overconfident,” Wonhoff added. “We didn’t have a good week of practices and South Bend was going to make us pay for that. Luckily, we got the fumble and capitalized on that.”
That early series sealed the momentum for the Vikings, who used a few defensive big plays to set up further first-half scores. The Indians suited up just 14 players for the contest and all of them saw action on both sides of the ball.
Flemetis made it 14-0 late in the first quarter on a 10-yard scoring run on Valley’s second drive of the game. The Vikings took advantage of a Tribe fumble to score three plays later, a 5-yard blast by Fluke up the middle for a 21-0 lead.
Valley’s Drew Pearson blocked a punt, which set up the Vikings at the South Bend 10-yard line. Two plays later, Flemetis scored from 1 yard out for an eventual 28-0 halftime lead.
South Bend established some offense in the first half, running for 85 yards on 22 carries, but couldn’t sustain drives long enough to slow Valley. Overall, the Indians finished with 65 yards of offense.
“Like I said earlier, we’re getting better, but we got a long ways to go, too,” Sanchez said. “I saw some encouraging things. On defense, we got some stops and some turnovers, but we would turn it over right back to them. We just got to get over that hump. We still have some work to do and hopefully we will get better.”
In the second half, Valley took advantage of another South Bend miscue.
Following an interception that ended Valley’s first drive of the second half at the South Bend 5-yard line, Lewis was smothered and stripped of the football in the end zone. Cook recovered the ball for the touchdown at 35-0 with 9:09 left in the third.
Flemetis scored his third touchdown, a 5-yard sprint, early in the fourth quarter at 41-0 and Cook ended the scoring with the second-unit offense on a 44-yard touchdown run on fourth down with 5:05 left in the game.
“Drew Pearson did a wonderful job for us at defensive end,” Wonhoff said. “Our line did a great job of containment and the linebackers flowed to the ball well. We overran a few plays, but this wasn’t bad for the first game. What I liked was the swarming defense and we got a lot of white jerseys around the football. That was our goal.”
Coach Sanchez cited linebacker Marcus Overstake and defensive lineman Marcos Perales for their efforts on defense.
On Friday, Willapa Valley (1-0) will stay the road to take on Olympia High School’s’ junior varsity team. South Bend (0-1) will hit the road for the first time to face North Beach in a non-league matchup.