Forks pounds out season-opening win over Sequim

Dahlgren 31 carries for

187 yards, 2 TDs; Wheeler 7-114, 2 TDs.

By Michael Carman

Olympic Peninsula News Group

SEQUIM — Forks’ power rushing scheme gobbled up yardage inside and out offensively, its defense produced four Sequim turnovers, including an interception return for a touchdown and the Spartans battered the Wolves 32-14 on Friday night.

Field position was a key factor in Forks’ early offensive onslaught. The Spartans started three straight first-quarter scoring drives on Sequim’s half of the field.

Walker Wheeler made Sequim pay, busting loose off the left side on the same nifty counter pitch play out of the Spartan’s newly adopted Single-Wing offense twice in a row from 50-and 45-yards out.

“Counter with a shovel pass, it was just a wide open hole for me, nobody was there and nobody touched me on either play,” Wheeler said. “Our line did an amazing job of opening up those holes.

“We expected big things out of him last year and he ended up with a tear in his hip suffered during the first game last year against Sequim,” Forks coach Trevor Highfield said. “He worked amazingly hard in the weight room and has really become one of our leaders. We are excited about what he’s doing on both sides of the ball.”

Nate Dahlgren, the Spartans’ primary ball carrier pounded out 19-yards up the middle to put Forks up 18-0 with 3:10 left in the first quarter.

The Jim Thorpe-era offensive formation often resembles a hammer meeting a nail and Dahlgren was that hammer, smashing for 187 yards on 31 carries and two touchdowns.

“The primary thing we wanted to get out of this offense is to pound, pound, pound the football, soften them up and hit them with something they aren’t expecting,” Highfield said. “When you look at data, Georgia Tech, when they were running the Wishbone, they had the most explosive plays in NCAA football. You wouldn’t expect that out of a heavy rushing attack.”

Forks’ Conner Demorest picked off a Lars Wiker pass in the end zone to snuff out Sequim’s best drive in the second quarter.

The Spartans went up 32-0 at halftime, scoring on Ryan Rancourt’s 50-yard interception return and Dahlgren’s 23-yard run off the right side.

Rancourt added a second interception in the end zone right after halftime and blocked an extra point on the night.

“Excited about Ryan,” Highfield said. “He was a freshman cornerback out against a good Sequim team (in 2019) and it was far from his best game. He was a little out of his depth. I’m so excited to see him grow each year and come back and have a game like this against Sequim.

Sequim was much improved after halftime, scoring on Thomas Reandeau’s 11-yard plunge and an exciting deflection-and-run for a 51-yard TD by diminutive freshman Adrian Aragon (5’4, 130-pounds).

“We had four or five guys playing different positions than they practiced this week [due to in-game injuries] but that’s not an excuse, We didn’t play tough and they played tough,” Sequim coach Erik Wiker said. “They came out in a completely different offense than they’ve run the last four years, so we were scripted for something different. It’s a great job of coaching to your personnel. I told [Highfield], ‘Great job, coach.”

Wiker said his team struggled to make correct reads early against Forks, but did slow the Spartans after that initial burst.

“They squirted a couple of big plays, that will happen when you don’t practice against that all week, it makes it pretty tough,” Wiker said. “But that’s good coaching on their part. Once we figured out the reads, we did a much better job against them defensively.

“Second half — it was about attitude and effort. It was attitude and kids getting their heads out a little bit. We were dropping everything in the first half, we just needed to make some grabs and have some accountability.

“Field position hurt us, too. We couldn’t do anything [in the first half]. If we connect on a couple of catches we wouldn’t have made it so difficult on ourselves.”

Forks (1-0) will visit LaConner next Saturday.

Conner Demorest #3 with the ball and #16 Gunner Rogers and #56 Brody Lausche.

Conner Demorest #3 with the ball and #16 Gunner Rogers and #56 Brody Lausche.

Spartans tackle.

Spartans tackle.