Stepping onto the field for the first time this season in a meaningful game, Montesano showed it hasn’t lost a step and Aberdeen showed it has taken a few steps forward.
In a non-league season opener that was more competitive on the field than on the scoreboard, small mistakes by the Bobcats allowed the Bulldogs to pile on the points in a 54-20 triumph at Rottle Field on Friday, Sept. 2.
Carson Klinger, Nick Chapman, Trevor Ridgway and Nathan Olson each scored twice for Montesano (1-0), while Kylan Touch and Ben Dublanko each finished with two touchdowns for Aberdeen (0-1).
“As coaches, we know we have some things we need to work on,” Montesano head coach Terry Jensen said. “We hit some explosive plays. We were just able to hit on those. Stopping them on fourth down and the two turnovers, those led to three touchdowns for us. We got rolling there on offense; they were executing really well. We had our hands full with Touch. He’s a special player.”
“Just take out the mistakes,” Aberdeen head coach Kevin Ridout said. “They didn’t outhit us. They didn’t out-speed us. We just made some critical mistakes and they took advantage of them, being the great team that they are. We need to take care of the little things. The kids played with courage. Offensively, we knew what they were doing and we were able to move the ball. They have great closing speed (on defense).”
There was plenty to like about this contest for both teams. Montesano showcased its new starters on offense, led by junior quarterback Ridgway, while Aberdeen saw its best offensive players lead the team down the field.
Junior running back Klinger rolled past 100 yards of rushing in the first half alone and scored twice in the first quarter. He opened the scoring with a 68-yard touchdown run right up the middle of the Bobcats’ defense. He later added a 1-yard plunge for a 13-7 lead.
In between Klinger’s touchdowns, Dublanko and Touch made a bad situation great. On the run against Montesano’s defense, Dublanko found Touch on a wideout screen. Touch evaded two Bulldog defenders and used senior Braden Castleberry-Taylor’s crushing block to spring free down the far sideline for an 87-yard touchdown pass play.
Montesano’s defense stepped up for a four-down stop deep inside its own territory to stymie Aberdeen late in the first quarter. The Bulldogs parlayed the momentum into a touchdown drive, capped by Ridgway’s first touchdown of the day — a 26-yard pass play to Chapman — for a 21-7 lead early in the second.
Chapman enjoyed his run into the end zone so much, he did it again on defense in Aberdeen’s next drive. In one of the few mistakes by Dublanko, Chapman got an easy interception and ran it back 50 yards for a touchdown at 28-7.
Two offensive plays later, the Bobcats coughed up the football on a lost fumble. The Bulldogs scored again minutes later, an 8-yard touchdown run by Olson at 35-7.
Aberdeen responded with its longest scoring drive of the game, a nine-play, 58-yard march keyed on two Dublanko-to-Castleberry-Taylor pass plays. The first was a 31-yard play where Castleberry-Taylor outleaped his defenders for the ball and ran 20 yards after the catch. The second was on fourth down, a 6-yard touchdown fade pass into the far right corner at 35-14.
Montesano finished its perfect scoring first half (five offensive drives, five touchdowns) when a misplayed onside kick gave it a short field. Olson finished the four-run, 41-yard drive with an 8-yard touchdown plunge at 42-14.
Both teams’ defenses showcased their strengths in the third quarter before Montesano got its offensive groove back late. On a one-play drive, Ridgway got his second touchdown of the night when he found Dakoyta Reninger wide open on a sideline streak route for a 62-yard touchdown and a 48-14 lead.
“(Ridgway) really kept his poise back there,” Jensen said. “He made a couple of mistakes, but he was able to overcome them. He executed the offense very well. His pass to Chapman was a beauty. He had nice touch on his throws. You know, we had two great running backs tonight — Klinger and Touch. They were making players miss right and left.”
Aberdeen took advantage of one of Montesano’s few turnovers at the start of the fourth quarter. The Bobcats recovered a muffed punt to get the ball back. Seven plays later, Touch got his second touchdown of the game by getting to the far left pylon for a 10-yard scoring run.
“Ben (Dublanko) had a great game; Braden had a great game; Touch had a great game, too,” Ridout said. “We are better than we were last year. We just can’t make those kind of mistakes.”
Montesano moved to its second-string offense with 7:44 left in the contest and the reserves picked up the final touchdown of the contest. On two runs, Teegan Zillyett finished the drive from 25 yards out, with the second a 13-yard touchdown run.