Sports

Decatur's season is history

By CASEY OLSON

Sports editor

The Decatur football team did something no other Gator squad had done — play a postseason game.

“We made history,” said senior fullback/linebacker Kyle Bressler.

But the historic nature of the game didn’t make the 24-0 loss to the unbeaten and fourth-ranked Evergreen Plainsmen (10-0) any easier Saturday night at McKenzie Field in Vancouver in the first round of the state playoffs. Just making an appearance in the postseason wasn’t the thing Bressler and the rest of the senior-laden Gators wanted to be remembered for. Decatur (7-3) thought they could make some noise in the playoffs. But it just wasn’t meant to be.

“They are tough team and they played a tough game,” Bressler said. “I’m pretty sad.”

The Gators couldn’t capitalize on anything the Evergreen Plainsmen gave them. And the Plainsmen didn’t give the Gators much all night — especially on the offensive side of the ball.

The Evergreen defense, which gave up 28 points in a win last week against Mountain View, stuffed Decatur’s vaunted running game all night long. The Gators, who came into the playoff game averaging over 200 yards on the ground, could muster just 89 yards of offense during the entire game and that included minus-two yards in the third quarter. The Plainsmen defensive line looked like they knew what play was coming before it was run.

“They are a very quick team,” first-year coach Bill Heglar said. “They also got some good size and were able to gang up on us a little bit.”

Even with their lackluster performance on offense, the opportunistic Decatur defense gave the Gators chances to get back into the game, but they couldn’t capitalize.

“They just stepped up,” senior wideout/defensive back Nick Isaac said. “They were just pushing off our line and we couldn’t run.”

The powerful Plainsmen looked like they were going to turn the game into a blowout early. Evergreen took the opening kickoff 80 yards in under four minutes to take an early 7-0 lead. During the eight-play drive, Evergreen quarterback Kyle Miller was 4-for-4 and looked very comfortable in the pocket.

But the Gators’ defense, which looked a little shell-shocked early going in their first playoff appearance, buckled down the rest of the first half. After the opening touchdown drive, Decatur limited the Plainsmen, who came into the game averaging more than 40 points a game, to just one first down the rest of the half and caused a pair of fumbles.

The second of those fumbles, which was recovered on the Evergreen 24-yard line by senior lineman Ryan Dowell, gave the Gators their best scoring opportunity of the night. Decatur drove the ball to the 4-yard line thanks to a 14-yard, fourth-down pass from senior quarterback Darin Harris to Issac. But with just 33 seconds left in the half, Harris lost control of the ball on a sneak and Evergreen recovered the fumble to take the 7-0 lead into the locker room.

The halftime break didn’t end the Gators’ bad luck. Evergreen recovered the opening kickoff of the second half after Bressler couldn’t handle a Nick Fleck squib kick. The Plainsmen converted the mistake into a 21-yard field goal to go up 10-0.

Evergreen then took advantage of solid field position and a tired Decatur defense to put the game away with two fourth-quarter touchdowns by backup tailback Corey Fredericks. Fredericks finished with 132 yards on just 16 carries — most coming in the second half after an injury to starter Taylor Ranks.

“The kids left it on the field,” Heglar said. “They were just worn out. Most of our kids go both ways (offense and defense) and that made it real hard on them.”

But Heglar was proud of the effort his team gave for him all season. Things could have easily gone south for the Gators after Rik Haines resigned in the spring to move closer to his family in Florida and Decatur received word that star tailback/defensive back Tracy Ford had transferred to Bellevue High School during the summer.

“Things kids have been outstanding,” Heglar said. “They have adjusted to me bringing in a new system. It could have been a real tough deal and that is just an example of how great these kids are.”

at Sumner 31, Federal Way 13

Sumner scored three third-quarter touchdowns Thursday night to break a halftime tie and cruised to a 31-13 victory over Federal Way.

The loss ends Federal Way’s season with a 1-9 record.

Federal Way junior running back C.J. Green scored the Eagles first touchdown on a 14-yard run in the second quarter to tie the game at 7-7 entering halftime, but the Eagles couldn’t stay with the Spartans in the third quarter. Larell Ezell scored Federal Way’s second touchdown in the fourth quarter on a 62-yard catch.

Enumclaw 35, at Jefferson 27

The Hornets downed the Raiders Thursday at Federal Way Memorial Stadium, 35-27. The loss ends Jefferson’s season at 2-8.

Sports editor Casey Olson: 925-5565, sports@fedwaymirror.com.

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