GRANGER, Wash. — Touchet kicked off its 2018 football season two weeks later than originally scheduled here Thursday night.
But as far as first-year coach Leland Weber and his players were concerned, better late than never was the overriding theme.
The young Indians — all 15 of them — were no match for a Sunnyside Christian program that reached the Washington Class 1B-8 state championship game in 2016 and made it as far as the state semifinals a year ago. The Knights’ lopsided 60-14 victory was not unexpected.
But after forfeiting their first two games of the season because they didn’t have enough eligible players to field a team, the Indians were just happy to settle things on the field regardless of the final score.
For a time, in fact, it appeared that Touchet would be unable to field a team this season. But thanks to several late turnouts and several other players who regained academic status, the season — and perhaps the program — has been saved.
“I was very happy,” said Weber, a longtime Touchet assistant coach who didn’t know he was going to be asked to serve as head coach until days before practice was scheduled to begin when Jesse Solis, last year’s head coach, told school officials he was no longer able to coach the team.
“We had first-game jitters,” Weber said. “We were running around out there like chickens with our heads cut off. But the kids never gave up.”
Sunnyside Christian, which came into the game with a 1-1 season record, scored 38 points in the first quarter and led 54-0 before Touchet got on the scoreboard late in the second quarter when sophomores Zac Jaggar and Kaedyn Gallaher hooked up on a 37-yard scoring pass.
Jaggar, one of those who decided to turn out late and was immediately inserted at quarterback, then ran for a two-point conversion.
Jaggar completed 3-of-12 passes for 53 yards overall while Gallaher was the team’s leading rusher with 65 yards on seven carries.
Evan McMakin, a 200-pound junior, scored the Indians’ other touchdown on a 1-yard run in the third quarter.
Tyler Marsh ran for 135 yards on seven carries for Sunnyside Christian. He scored the Knights’ first two TDs on runs of 7 and 23 yards, and he accounted for the third on a 3-yard pass to Brennan Rip.
Marsh completed 3-of-6 passes for 83 yards overall. Matt Beltman rushed for 75 yards on three carries, including a 22-yard touchdown run in the first period and a 39-yard scoring jaunt in the fourth.
Defensively, Jaggar contributed a pass interception for Touchet in the second quarter and sophomore Justin McColley and freshman Kaeden McMakin recovered Sunnyside Christian fumbles.
“We’re just very young,” Weber said. “We have four seniors and two juniors on the team, but two of those seniors and one of the juniors are out for football for the first time.
“But we never hung our heads and we gave 100 percent,” Weber added. “The kids had fun, and they admitted there are a lot of things they can improve on.
“I couldn’t ask for anything more, and we are going to be ready to at it again.”
Touchet travels to Colton for another Southeast 1B-8 League game one week from today.
Knights 60, Indians 14
SSC — Marsh 7 run (Rip pass from Marsh).
SSC — Marsh 23 run (pass failed).
SSC — Rip 3 pass from Marsh (J. Prins run).
SSC — Dykstra 4 run (Fultz run).
SSC — J. Prins 66 run (pass failed)
SSC — Beltman 22 run (Fultz run).
Tou — Gallaher 37 from Jaggar (Jaggar run).
SSC — Arie Prins 67 pass from Jeck (Fultz pass Jeck).
Tou — E. McMakin 1 run (run failed).
SSC — Beltman 39 run (pass failed)
RUSHING — Touchet: E. McMakin 10-9, Jaggar 5-1, Gallaher 7-65, K. McMakin 2-6, Hale 2-10, McColley 2-13; SSC: Marsh 7-135, Fultz 5-26, J. Prins 3-90, Dystrka 2-13, Austin Prins 2-11, Jeck 3-16, Beltman 3-75, Arie Prins 2-38, Groeneweg 4-(-4).
PASSING — Touchet: Jaggar 3-12-1, 53 yards, 1 touchdown. SSC: Marsh 3-6-0, 83 yards; Fultz 1-3-1, 3 yards; Jeck 2-2-0, 70 yards.
RECEIVING — Touchet: Gallaher 1-37-1, E. McMakin 1-8-0, McColley 1-8-0; SSC: Rip 4-42-1, J. Prins 1-66-0, Groeneweg 1-48-0.