OROFINO Pity the coin-operated laundromat washers and dryers.
Last Friday night, Oct. 14, the Grangeville boys waded into their must-win game with the Maniacs with regard for neither their shirts nor their nostrils.
Noah Kaschmitter came up perhaps the dirtiest, having rushed for two touchdowns and joined numerous tackles, though not even he soaked up as much mud on one tumble as Bryden Brannan, who had a breakout game in the backfield, most of which looked like it had been underwater all week.
With a big night for the running backs, Grangeville cleats marred most every inch of it, and swampgas rose out of every footprint.
Even so, Orofino’s field did little to slow the Bulldogs, and though the Maniacs played willfully on defense, Grangeville’s blockers continually opened running lanes and kept quarterback Tescher Harris’ jersey relatively clean.
Harris had to hit the turf to recover a blown snap early in the second quarter, with GHS already leading 7-0 on the strength of the first of Kaschmitter’s two touchdowns.
The fumble killed that series, but the GHS defense — having forced punts on each of Orofino’s first three drives — returned an interception roughly 50 yards for a touchdown. Luke Stokes read the pass, picked it off and ran it back, and TJ Wiltse’s second point-after kick made it 14-0 with 1:41 left in the first half.
The Bulldog defense forced punt No. 4, which Stokes ran back to the Orofino 24, which gave the Bulldogs three cracks at the end zone before the half expired.
Orofino’s fifth and sixth punts left it the same score entering the fourth quarter. The Maniacs finally broke through with a penalty-filled drive that began on their own 25 with a pass interference flag. Kaschmitter appeared to have snuffed it with a tackle on third-and-one, but a personal foul flag kept possession with Orofino.
Facing a third down near midfield, the Maniacs completed touchdown pass, pushing GHS into an endgame scenario with less than four minutes remaining.
The Bulldogs aimed to run out the clock, and, facing fourth down and four inches, handed off to Kaschmitter, who cut behind a block by Parker Walters and cut back to pick up a block by Frankie Zumwalt to elude the initial surge from Orofino’s last-ditch defensive effort. That left Kaschmitter with nothing ahead of him but 40 yards of open field, and his second touchdown effectively ended the game.
Coming — Grangeville (4-4, 1-1 Central Idaho League) is on bye this week, with playoff pairings to be determined.