Skyline shuts out Oregon’s best
September 8, 2009
By Christopher Huber
It seems typical, these days, that the Skyline football team, despite experiencing early-game jitters, ends up shutting out its opening-game opponent, no matter how good they are.
Such was the case Sept. 5 when the Spartans earned its third opening-day shutout victory in three years. It beat Jesuit High School, Oregon’s top-ranked Class 6A team, 17-0 in the Emerald City Kickoff Classic at Qwest Field.
Skyline’s pent-up energy and excitement to play a real game after a summer of rigorous workouts was apparent from the opening kickoff.
“I think the biggest thing was that these kids were just so ready to play a game,” Skyline head coach Mat Taylor said after the game. “I think the excitement got the best of them in the beginning of the first half.”
That eagerness hindered the Spartan offense in the form of dropped passes and missed opportunities.
“Every first game everybody’s trying to shake off the cobwebs,” said quarterback Jake Heaps. “You finally get a chance to hit somebody else. Like coach said, we were all jacked up for the game and that’s where errors occur.”
But the defense put that energy to good use, holding the Jesuit offense to minus-11 yards rushing in the first two quarters.
“We take a lot of pride in that. We’ve been working for those shutouts for a long time. It’s all about keeping the goose egg,” said senior middle linebacker Anthony DeMatteo. “I think this defense is legit and it’s ready to go.”
DeMatteo and senior defensive end Cooper Pelleur each played a huge role in containing the Crusaders.
Pelleur sacked Jesuit’s first-year starting quarterback Jeff Elorriaga twice in the first half.
“My objective of the game is to get pressure on the quarterback and wreak havoc back there,” said Pelleur. “I think as a full defensive line we accomplished that tonight and disrupted things back there.”
Pelleur, playing on the offensive side, scored Skyline’s lone touchdown in the first half.
It came on a wacky 6-yard toss from a scrambling Heaps just over a minute into the second quarter.
The pass looked like desperate, last-ditch throw, but Heaps said he saw a hand and aimed.
“I was rolling out and I got pressure and I got spun around the first time and luckily I saw the hand open up in the end zone. And luckily I was accurate enough to get it in there.”
Skyline led 7-0 at the half.
The offense finally hit a rhythm in the second half. Heaps completed passes to seven different receivers in the second half, including a 39-yard pass play to a leaping Miles Edwards at the 1-yard-line.
A penalty and a few plays later, Heaps connected with receiver Jordan Simone in the right corner of the end zone to make it 14-0.
“Really great players make really great plays,” Jesuit head coach Ken Potter said of Edwards’ catch in the face of a defender.
He said Skyline was able to limit Jesuit’s offense so well because the Spartan defense got off the ball better up front and forced them off the field quickly each possession.
“I thought, defensively, they just did a tremendous job of flying to the football; taking away the things we like to do,” Potter said. “Tonight, we were stymied on offense, and so our defense was on the field a lot. And when your defense is on the field that much against a really good team, they’re going to take advantage of your defense.”
Skyline kicker Sean Penberthy capped things off with a 21-yard field goal in the third.
Heaps finished 18 of 33 with 152 yards passing. Running back Nick Washburn rushed for 71 yards on 11 carries.
Reporter Christopher Huber can be reached at 392-6434, ext. 242, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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