To settle football’s East County Civil War, Montesano unleashed a succession of quick strikes.
Trevor Ridgway threw touchdown passes on three consecutive plays in the first half to highlight Monte’s 49-0 rout of Elma in the 148th renewal of East County Civil War on Friday Oct. 28 at Rottle Field.
With their 11th consecutive win over their East County rivals (they lead the series, 73-59-6), the fourth-ranked Bulldogs (4-0, 9-0) wrapped up the undisputed Evergreen 1A League championship.
Somewhat surprisingly, considering their traditional post-season success, it was their first league title since 2011. Even during their 2012 state championship season, they were league runners-up to Hoquiam.
The Bulldogs will host White Salmon in a state-qualifying district playoff contest on Friday.
Elma concluded its season at 1-3 in league and 2-7 overall.
Ridgway completed 7 of 10 passes for 157 yards, was on the receiving end of a first-down pass from Dakoyta Reninger and also provided an interception and fumble recovery. Junior running back Carson Klinger rushed for 101 yards and scored two touchdowns, while Reninger caught three passes for 98 yards and two TDs.
Montesano’s offensive unit spent only 8:13 on the field in building a 42-0 halftime lead. Two of its “drives” consumed a combined 15 seconds.
The entire second half was played under the 40-point running-clock mercy rule.
“We hit some big plays — explosive plays, we call them,” Monte coach Terry Jensen summarized. “We try to get 12 of those plays every game, that’s our goal.”
The inexperienced Eagles had some promising moments early, registering first downs on each of their first three possessions. They did not, however, muster another first down during the remainder of the contest and had no answer for Monte’s high-powered attack.
“We made some critical mistakes that we can’t do against a team like them,” Elma coach Ron Clark said. “Not that it would have made a difference in the outcome, but it would have made a difference in the score.”
The Bulldogs already owned a 21-0 lead in the second quarter when Ridgway began his touchdown trifecta.
With Monte lined up in punt formation on a fourth-and-five situation, the junior quarterback caught a 23-yard throw from Reninger to keep the drive alive.
The two reversed roles on the next play, with Reninger on the receiving end of a 32-yard scoring strike with 4:41 remaining in the first half.
On the first play following the ensuing kickoff, Ridgway intercepted Ira Hartford’s halfback pass and returned it 34 yards to the Elma 19-yard line. From there, Ridgway found Nick Chapman on a corner route in the end zone.
Following an Elma punt, Ridgway hit Reninger on a seam pattern. The junior back took it to the house for a 51-yard scoring play. Ben Lopez, perfect on seven conversions, added the PAT to complete the first-half scoring.
Montesano’s offensive starters departed for good three plays into the second half.
Senior running back Cody Willis scored his first varsity touchdown on a 1-yard plunge (set up by his own 19-yard run) early in the fourth quarter for the lone second-half marker.
Using their characteristic hurry-up offense, the Bulldogs needed only four plays to cover 59 yards on their opening possession of the game. Klinger dragged several tacklers into the end zone on a 7-yard run.
Nathan Olson tallied on an 18-yard sweep late in the first quarter. Klinger concluded a 74-yard scoring drive with a 3-yard run early in the second period.
Coach Jensen was loath to single out anyone defensively, although Klinger and Taylor Rupe were in on several stops.
Hartford led Elma ball-carriers with 32 yards on nine carries. The Eagle senior was also among his team’s leading tacklers, as were Niall Baxter and Caleb Hill.
The Eagles will graduate only three offensive starters.
“We came in young and left young,” Clark reflected. “We made a lot of improvement since the jamboree.”