Huskies step up on all sides to blank Stayton

Scott Swanson

Junior running back Wade Paulus and sophomore Spencer Knight romped past Stayton for three touchdowns as Sweet Home opened its 2011 season with a decided bang Friday night, and the Husky defense followed suit, combining to shut the visitors down, 22-0.

The Huskies handcuffed the visiting Eagles all night long in their preseason endowment game matchup, limiting Stayton quarterback Reece Hack, who was reported last month to have verbally committed to Portland State, to five of 13 passing, with one interception, for 64 yards. Sweet Home held the Eagles to 67 yards on the ground, 55 in the first half, and to three first downs.

“That was great defense,” said Sweet Home Coach Dustin Nichol, a former state Defensive Player of the Year himself. “It was very satisfying. I felt like we controlled our own destiny the whole game. We were really aggressive.”

It was a significant statement for the Huskies, coming off a 3-7 season last year in Nichol’s first season at the helm (see Sports Preview in Section B). They played with authority that became more evident as they wore down Stayton and created opportunities for themselves. It was clear that Sweet Home’s linemen were making it happen up front, and the backfield players backed that assumption up after the game.

“I owe the whole game to those linemen,” said Paulus, who rushed for 180 yards on 17 carries.

The game started slowly for both teams, the Huskies fumbling the ball away twice in the first half, but keeping Stayton bottled up, and Jacob Smith gave Sweet Home some punctuation early in the second quarter, blocking an Eagles punt.

But it wasn’t until 2:40 left in the half that the Huskies got their first big offense explosion. Juniors Paulus, Hunter Bidwell and Josh Wooley had pounded the Stayton defense for a quarter and a half before the coaching staff sent Knight out for his first high school varsity carry.

Taking the ball on a screen play to the left as the Huskies took over from Stayton on their own 28, Knight got some key blocks downfield and pulled away for Sweet Home’s first score.

“It was just great blocking,” Knight said. “They showed a lot of hustle getting downfield. It was really great. Pretty much, when I saw daylight, I turned on the burners and tried not to get tackled.”

Though the point-after kick attempt failed on a fumbled snap, the Huskies took a 6-0 lead into the locker room at halftime.

Their first series in the second half ended in their third fumble, but after limiting Stayton to a three-and-out, the Huskies went on a 15-play drive that burned up the rest of the third quarter and was capped by an 19-yard slashing run by Paulus, who bounced off a defender into the end zone for a touchdown.

Then junior quarterback Colton Holly, who switched off throughout the night with sophomore Cole Horner, found receiver Colton Schilling in the corner of the end zone to make it 14-0 with 11:06 to play.

After another three-and-out by Stayton, the Huskies took over again and on their first play, Paulus scampered 63 yards to put his team back in the red zone. Wooley carried for six and Knight finished things off, plowing five yards, through a hole created by the offensive line, for his second score of the night.

Horner nearly made it to the corner on a two-point conversion attempt, but with 8:29 left, the Huskies were up 20-0.

Then things really fell apart for Stayton. Scottie Stockman intercepted Hack’s pass on the Eagles’ first play and Sweet Home launched a 10-play drive that fizzled with a dropped pass in the end zone.

Stayton took over again on its own 9-yard line, but after getting a first down to the 21, Hack was sacked by the Huskies and then, on fourth down, fumbled a punt snap in the end zone and was downed for a safety, giving Sweet Home its final score to make it 22-0 with 2:13 remaining.

Paulus led all the Husky rushers with his 180 yards, followed by Bidwell with 69, and Knight with 74, as Sweet Home ran up 360 yards on the ground. Holly completed four of five passes for 34 yards and Horner was three for nine for 26. Mitch Keenon not only made some big plays on defense but was the leading receiver, catching three passes for 42 yards.

“I didn’t let anybody get past me,” Keenon said. “I made all my tackles.”

“I felt good that we could run our ball-control offense,” Nichol said, noting that the Huskies set the table for themselves early in the game with some “smash-mouth” football.

“Our offense isn’t set up right now to be razzle-dazzle. I think our offensive and defensive lines, across the board, that makes or breaks our football team.”

“We’re an evolving team. We’re young. This is one step in our evolution as a team. This win is huge because it brings three classes together that are used to working independently.

“I think we’ll keep getting better and better as long as they stay selfless.”

Keenon said the Huskies have confidence in each other.

“I think our team has matured,” he said. “We’ve grown up playing with each other. We trust each other.”

The Huskies open the regular season Friday at home against Cascade, which beat North Marion 34-7 last Friday.

Scoring Summary

1 2 3 4 Total

SH 0 6 0 16 22

S 0 0 0 0 0


Second Quarter

SH: 2:40 Spencer Knight 64 yard run. (Kick failed.)

Third Quarter

SH: 11:06 Wade Paulus 19 yard run. (2 pt. PAT Colton Holly to Colton Schilling.)

SH: 8:29 Knight 5 yard run. (Run failed.)

Fourth Quarter

SH: 2:13 Safety.

Team Statistics

Rushing: SH 54-360; S 31-67

Passing: SH 7-14-0, 60; S 5-13-1-, 64

First Downs: SH 13; S 3

Penalties: SH 7-55; S 7-55

Turnovers: SH 3; S 1

SH Individual Statistics

Rushing: Wade Paulus 17-180; Spencer Knight 11-74; Hunter Bidwell 10-69; Colton Holly 5-15; Josh Wooley 6-12; Ty Harvey 3-6; Cole Horner 2-4.

Passing: Colton Holly 4-5-0, 34. Cole Horner 3-9-0, 26.

Receiving: Mitch Keenon 3-42; Wade Paulus 1-9; Scottie Stockman 1-9; Spencer Knight 2-5; Quinn Wise 1-0; Hunter Bidwell 1- -5.