Cruisers QB throws off Eagles, 35-8

Elma played its first home game at Davis Field since 2013

A talented Eatonville quarterback threw a monkey wrench into Elma’s Davis Field homecoming.

Triston Graf passed for 265 yards and four touchdowns as the Cruisers spoiled Elma’s season opener, 35-8, in a non-league football game on Friday, Sept. 2.

It was the first varsity football game at Davis Field since the stadium grandstand was demolished prior to the 2014 season. The Eagles staged home games in Montesano, Aberdeen and Hoquiam during the past two campaigns.

The erection of uncovered bleachers has enabled the Eagles to play on their venerable on-campus field this year.

A senior transfer from Puyallup, Graf was as good as advertised Friday. Throwing very well on the run, he completed 17 of 29 passes before exiting early in the fourth quarter. Justin Brandt had eight receptions for 145 yards.

A state playoff qualifier while a member of the Evergreen 1A League the previous two seasons, Eatonville moved up to the 2A class this year.

Although expected to experiment with a variety of offensive sets, Elma played it relatively close to the vest in this one.

Defensively, they demonstrated better pursuit than in last week’s Montesano’s Jamboree. But tackling was an issue throughout, as Eatonville’s receivers logged considerable mileage following catches.

Making his debut as Elma’s head coach, Ron Clark gave his young team high marks for effort.

“You’ve got to start someplace,” Clark reflected. “We didn’t make enough plays, but we played hard. We’re going to have to work on open-field tackling.”

The Eagles broke the scoring ice in the final minute.

Sophomore reserve quarterback Sam Schneider tossed a short flat pass to classmate Niall Baxter, who scampered 64 yards to the Eatonville 13-yard line.

Schneider took it in on a keeper from 2 yards out five plays later with 34 seconds remaining. Freshman Tysen Richardson ran for the conversion.

By that time, however, the outcome had long since been assured.

Eatonville scored on three of its first four possessions, capitalizing on short fields for the first two.

A short punt set up the visitors’ first scoring drive. Graf found Brooks Moeller in the back of the end zone on an 18-yard pass with 4:05 remaining in the first quarter. Brandon Morton, 5-for-5 on conversion kicks, tacked on the PAT.

Moments later, Ray Springer’s 32-yard punt return put the Cruisers on the Elma 24. Eatonville needed only four plays to convert, with Zarak Scruggs reaching over the top of a smaller defender to haul in Graf’s 4-yard touchdown pass.

Another Graf-to-Scruggs connection, this one of 12 yards, and Graf’s 6-yard TD throw to Ryan Antonson in the second quarter gave the Cruisers a 28-0 halftime lead.

Joe Bridges’ 9-yard run in the third quarter closed out Eatonville’s scoring.

Elma’s best opportunity until the final minute came midway through the second quarter.

Junior quarterback Avery Brown completed first-down passes to Tatium Brumfield and Brandon Butcher as the Eagles marched to the Eatonville 6-yard line. A false-start penalty, however, helped stall the drive and Alejandro Hernandez eventually missed a 28-yard field goal attempt.

Ira Hartford led Elma ball-carriers with 48 yards on 17 carriers and also played well defensively. A.J. Brown contributed an interception and a sack for the Eagles.

Elma makes the long trek to White Salmon on Friday, Sept. 9.

Cruisers QB throws off Eagles, 35-8
Cruisers QB throws off Eagles, 35-8