There was one game that junior running back Austin Perry had circled during the summer when the Newport football schedule was released.
It wasn’t the first game of the season against Tillamook; it was the team’s second against Phoenix that Perry and the Cubs had zeroed in on.
There was a reason for this game, more so than others on the schedule. Last November the Pirates put a beatdown on the Cubs, sending them on a half-day bus ride back to Newport with a 60-13 loss that ended its season.
But on Friday, it was the Pirates who would have to digest a loss on the 260-mile bus on the way back to Phoenix. With an overpowering rushing attack and a shutout performance from the defense, the Cubs got their revenge against the Pirate, winning 34-7.
“That’s what we were focusing on all summer. Tillamook wasn’t really on our minds; it was ‘let’s beat Phoenix,’” Perry said. “And to finally come out here and do it, it puts validation to everything we did this summer.”
With a large core of players — Perry, Tanner Stottlemyre, Jake Tucker, Max Moore, Justin Plechaty and Addison Galen — returning.
“That’s what we talked about all week — revenge against Phoenix,” Stottlemyre said. “We know they whooped us last season so that was the whole mentality this week: beating Phoenix and getting our revenge.”
Once the game kicked off, neither offenses could gain traction in the first 12 minutes and both teams traded turnovers resulting in a scoreless first quarter. Newport wasn’t able to pick up yards with their outside rushing attack with Perry or Stottlemyre.
It was in the second quarter, the Cubs began to assert their will on offense with powerful runs up the gut by Galen who left a trail of Pirate defenders in his wake.
“I just felt like nothing was stopping me today,” Galen said. “It’s not a juke move, it’s a barrel through them, run right through them and get to the next guy.”
Those runs by Galen then opened up running lanes on the outside for Perry and Stottlemyre to run through. Stottlemyer found paydirt twice in the second quarter, scoring from five and 15 yards out to give the Cubs at 14-0 lead in the first half.
“Those ground and pound plays,
The Cubs extended the lead to 21-0 in the third quarter on a one-yard plunge from Galen that was set up by a long pitch and catch from quarterback Luke Losier to Plechaty. The Pirates were finally able to get on the scoreboard on the ensuing kickoff return when Nik Goff took the kick back 86 yards to bring the game to within two scores.
“That drove me nuts,” said head coach Rod Losier. “I was about ready to come down from the box, but we will get it right.”
Aside for the special
“I think the defense is the best part of our team,” Stottlemyre said. “(Defensive coordinator Jeff) Taylor is always telling us to fly to the ball and that’s our mentality tonight.”
With a 14-point lead in the third quarter, the Cubs wanted to go for the jugular. In the first half, players had noticed that the defense that Pirates were running left an outside linebacker to guard either Perry or Stottlemyre. The Cubs’ final two scores came through the air when Luke Losier found Perry from six and eight yards out.
“We really wanted to separate, 21-7, 14-0 we were telling coaches that,” Perry said. “Eventually they trusted us.”
The Cubs have now won their first two games of the season. In the past five years, Newport hasn’t won back-to-back games and the team is just two years removed from having one win in two combined seasons.
It’s still early in the season, but with how the Cubs have started the season — outscoring opponents 66-15 — there are good vibes about the direction of the team this season.
“It feels amazing,” Galen said. “We’ve developed a lot of great players, we feel like we can go far in the playoffs.”