TOUCHET — Two high-school football teams that have to believe the future is brighter than the present met here Friday afternoon in a Southeast 1B-8 League game.
By every indication, visiting St. John-Endicott’s future is considerably closer then that of the Touchet Indians, who saw their homecoming ruined by the visiting Eagles 46-0.
Both teams entered the game with 0-4 records, a scenario similar to a year ago on this same field when the Indians cleaned up on the Eagles 64-20. It proved to be Touchet’s only victory of the season and St. John-Endicott wound up winless on the year.
The Eagles came to town Friday with a roster of 19 players that included just two seniors. But seven juniors, three sophomores and seven more freshmen suggest better days ahead for the Whitman County squad.
Touchet’s roster numbers 15, three of whom are seniors plus three other juniors. A solid group of six sophomores, led by quarterback and defensive back Zac Jaggar, is where the Indians’ future lies provided they stick with it through the lean times.
“The attitude of these younger kids is still really good,” first-year coach Leland Weber said. “I know we have a couple of seniors who were kind of upset because they thought this was going to be a better outcome. They were hoping for a win in their first home game.
“But the younger kids were happy because they got a lot of playing time and thought they did some good things and showed some promise going up against some big kids. It may not happen this year, but if they keep working hard better things will happen and eventually the tide will turn and they will be on the other side.”
Offensively, Touchet had a difficult time sustaining drives. And on defense, the Indians were effective at times but susceptible to big plays.
The bigger Eagles shut down the Indians’ running game (61 yards on 23 rushing attempts) and forced Jaggar to put the ball in the air 30 times. He completed eight of those tosses for 150 yards, but he was also intercepted three times.
The visitors relied almost exclusively on their running game, scampering for 452 yards of 50 attempts. But 276 of those yards came on five long scoring plays.
Junior Chais Anderson had touchdown runs of 76, 66 and 42 yards. Senior Conr Hergert scored on a 58-yard run and sophomore Wyatt Walker had a 34-yard TD run.
“We do well and then we have that mental lapse,” Weber said of his team’s defensive play. “They run a counter and we over pursue. Inexperience is what I keep telling myself.”
Nevertheless, Touchet defenders tackled St. John-Endicott runners behind the line of scrimmage 10 times in the game for 33 negative yards. And the Indians’ defense limited Eagles quarterback Trey Fleming to two completions in 12 attempts for a mere five yards passing.
Touchet also forced three turnovers in the game. Sophomore Jonathan Hale recovered a fumble early in the game and Jaggar had a pair of first-half pass interceptions.
St. John-Endicott didn’t get on the scoreboard until the final minute of the first quarter. And although the Eagles led 30-0 at halftime, they didn’t get on the scoreboard again until midway in the fourth period.
Touchet’s only real scoring opportunity came in the second half when Jaggar found junior Evan McMakin of a 25-yard pass and then scrambled for 36 yards before being shoved out of bounds on the 1-yard line on the final play of the third quarter.
But on the first play of the fourth quarter Jaggar fumbled the ball, the Eagles recovered and the scoring chance was snuffed out.
Touchet lost two players to injury during the course of the game.
Hale sustained a concussion in the first quarter and his status for Friday’s game at first-place Garfield-Palouse is doubtful. And sophomore Justin McColley suffered what Weber described as a neck strain in the third quarter and could be cleared to play by Wednesday, the coach said.
Both players are two-way starters.
“We’re going to have to scramble this week,” Weber said. “And we have some tough competition coming up.
“Gar-Pal is a powerhouse with some really big kids. They make St. John-Endicott look small.”
Eagles 36, Indians 0
SJF — C. Anderson 76 run (pass failed).
SJE — Walker 34 run (Hergert run).
SJE — C. Anderson 42 run (J. Logen run).
SJE — Hergert 58 run (Fleming run).
SJE — C. Anderson 66 run (Walker run).
SJE — Harrison 2 run (Hergert run).
RUSHING — St. John-Endicott: M. Logen 2-6, J. Logen 4-30, Fleming 12-68, C. Anderson 11-221, Stach 4-(-15), Hergert 5-66, Walker 2-64, Harrison 3-12, R. Anderson 2-(-7), Swannack 2-(-7), Greenhalgh 2-6; Touchet: Gallaher 11-38, Jaggar 8-27, E. McMakin 4-(-4).
PASSING — St. John-Endicott: Fleming 2-12-2, 5 yards. Touchet: Jaggar 8-30-3, 150 yards.
RECEIVING — St. John-Endicott: Walker 1-1-0, Stanley 1-4-0; Touchet: Gallaher 3-43-0, E. McMakin 2-45-0, Hilbert 1-29-0, Vasquez 2-33-0.