Photo by Andrew Ottoson
Grangeville’s Luke Stokes scored the first and third touchdowns of the night, the latter of which is pictured. The 35-0 victory locked up the Central Idaho League title as well as a first-round home game for the Bulldogs, who will host McCall-Donnelly the week of Halloween.
As of Thursday, October 22, 2015
[This article has been updated to reflect a schedule change. The JV will play Sandpoint at 1 p.m. Saturday, and the varsity will play at 4 p.m. -ao]
Orofino reversed a two-score lead to beat Grangeville at OHS last year, but homecoming 2015 was one-sided: all Bulldogs.
“The kids were really keyed in for this one,” coach Jeff Lindsley said. “We as coaches gave them Xs and Os, and they were ready to play this game.”
Though they go by a canine nickname, the Grangeville boys crushed Orofino python-style last Friday night, Oct. 16, their grip on the Central Idaho League title drawing a bit tighter with each passing minute of a 35-0 victory.
Several of Grangeville's big plays had serpentine qualities: reacting to an under-thrown pass into the end zone, wide receiver Austin Parks turned, coiled like a cobra and struck for a touchdown; when a drive imploded during the second half, Layton Harris snaked his way out of the Maniacs' clutches in the backfield and side-wound his way to a first down; sealing the game during the third quarter, the GHS defense burst into Orofino's backfield like the mythical many-headed hydra, with two defenders toppling the quarterback, who fumbled, with two more in on locating the loose ball, and several others cutting off the retreating offense during the return.
The fumble return featured a remarkable combination of efforts by Shaydn Wassmuth, Cole Lindsley and others: as Orofino's quarterback attempted to recover, he was dogpiled; before the pile swallowed Wassmuth, he pushed the ball acrobatically, aerially, laterally to Lindsley, who swaggered into the end zone with enormous enthusiasm — an amount of vivaciousness and vigor the Bulldogs have displayed rarely if ever in recent years.
“I’ve wondered where that excitement has been,” Lindsley said. “Coach [Jeff] Adams reminded me that teams tend to take on the personality of their coaches...that play showed the kids are having fun playing.”
Grangeville showed similar if slightly subtler swagger on several other plays. Luke Stokes scored twice; he was visibly stoked for both breakthroughs, the second of which came on a run off the left side. Stokes found zero Maniacs in his path, and trotted in with his free hand held high. Also stoked was lineman Jakob Layman, who punctuated the procession by bellowing a remark that somehow sounded both playful and furious: "Luke! You didn't read me!"
Whatever Layman intended to intone, Stokes' run appeared to pierce Orofino more deeply than any words; the Maniacs then trailed 21-0, and in contrast to what happened a year ago at OHS, Grangeville never allowed a momentum-changing play, let alone a game-changing surge.
In part, the Maniacs’ late-game meekness may be attributable to an injury the OHS starting quarterback sustained during the second quarter. Grangeville lost two players to injury, both of whom will miss at least a week: Jack Lawrence suffered a strain, while Alex Cawley is expected to miss multiple weeks with a head injury.
Securing the CIL's top playoff seed means Grangeville will host a home game, when the playoffs open later this month. The win also featured two bits of added significance. First, the matchup gave GHS a clear hint of how closely this squad may match up with playoff nemesis Declo, as OHS met the Hornets at Eagle High School and lost 45-26 on Oct. 2. Second, the IDHSAA had selected GHS to appear in the statewide social media limelight. The Bulldogs responded with a signature performance in the most important game they've played so far.
“This win puts us exactly where we need to be,” Lindsley said. “This year’s playoff bracket is very kind to the top team in the league.”
Coming — Non-league Sandpoint (5-3) will be in Grangeville (5-2) for both teams' regular season finale at 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 24. The JV plays at 1 p.m. These teams have had one foe in common: Moscow, which beat GHS 40-21 during Zero Week, which Sandpoint beat 76-34 on Oct. 16.
“Preparing for a bigger, faster team is exactly what we need to do this week,” Lindsley said. “That’s what we expect to see in the playoffs.”
GHS will host McCall-Donnelly in the first round of the playoffs, the week of Halloween, with the likes of Declo and top-ranked Aberdeen looming later on.