COLVILLE - Coming off its first loss of the season the previous week in Freeman, the schedule facing the Colville Crimson Hawks allowed for no time to wallow in the disappointment of defeat.
Not with the Greater Spokane League’s 2A leader Shadle Park visiting for Colville’s annual homecoming game.
Buoyed by Emmet Marshall’s tie-breaking 13-yard touchdown pass from Cale Roy and an inside-the-10 fourth-down stop by the Blackshirt defense, the Hawks escaped with a hard-fought 35-28 victory against the Highlanders this past Friday night.
The win improved Colville to 6-1 on the season. The Hawks host Northeast A League leader Lakeside (Nine Mile Falls), unbeaten at 7-0 (4-0 NEA). A victory for the Eagles, the defending league champions and a 2021 state quarterfinalist, clinches the NEA title. A loss, and Colville will sit in a three-way tie for first entering the final regular season contest.
The stakes are undoubtedly high for both programs.
“Lakeside is an extremely fast defense that runs to the ball really well,” Head Coach Greg Mace said. “I think we just need to be ourselves.
“We are equipped to handle any defense we see and there isn’t anything “special” that we need to do in the game. We need to execute well, take care of the ball, and play to the best of our ability. The scoreboard will take care of itself.”
Tied at 28 after a Shadle Park (5-2) touchdown pass from Natreven Dickerson to Jordan Dever knotted the score, the Colville offense responded with an 11-play, 71-yard drive. Colbie McEvoy had two key third-down conversions on the series, the first a 16-yard catch on third-and-12 and then followed that up by hauling in a 33-yard pass from Roy on third-and-14 that put the Hawks in the red zone. From there, Marshall found an opening on an additional high-leverage third down for his third touchdown reception of the season, which proved to be the game winner.
McEvoy had scored earlier in the game - his eighth touchdown grab of the season - while Allan McKeraghan showed off his speed on two catch-and-run touchdown passes in the first quarter, spanning 64 and 60 yards.
All told, the three players have a combined 55 catches for 1206 yards and 17 touchdowns through seven games.
“The fact that it is a trio of guys that all have unique skill sets make them hard to deal with,” Mace said. “Colbie with his length and route running, Allan with his speed and strength, and Emmet with his toughness and explosiveness. We have the ability to spread the ball all over the field which makes us tough to defend.”
Backed against the shadow of their own end zone and clinging to a seven-point lead last Friday, the Blackshirts had their most important stop of the night. On a fourth-and-one from the eight yard-line, Shadle Park lined up dynamic runner Beckett Ensminger at quarterback in its Wildcat formation. Running to his left, Ensminger got stood up by McKeraghan and was aided by a host of teammates. Close enough for a measurement, the spot was short and Colville took over on downs. Roy had to take one kneel-down to conclude the win.
“Boy, that stop reminded me a lot of the 2018 Royal game and the famous measurement,” said Mace. “Over my years here at Colville I have watched our Blackshirts make stops like this time and time again and the excitement and thrill of a stop like that never gets old.
“That’s just pure attitude and effort.”
The early defense of the Highlanders was a challenge, a group that had their own set of offensive triplets in Ensminger, Dickerson and Dever. The Shadle Park offense is averaging 424 yards of offense in GSL league play, while only allowing 251.3 on the defensive side. Coming in on a five-game winning streak, the visitors jumped to leads of 7-0 and 14-7 in the first quarter by using a heavy ground game that featured Ensminger and Dickerson. Ensminger would run for 181 yards on the night, a season high allowed to a back by Colville. However, 101 of that came on the first two series of the night. Running yards were harder to come by after that point.
“That was our first time seeing a zone blocking scheme this year, and it took some adjustments from Coach (Bill) Carpenter and company to keep the running game in check,” Mace said. “We were able to make some alignment adjustments up front, and also with the linebackers that proved to be pivotal in helping to stop the run game. Coach Carpenter and Coach (Shane) Roy are fantastic at making in-game adjustments on the fly in stopping opposing offenses and putting our kids in the best position to be successful.”
Despite three turnovers themselves Friday night (a week after having six at Freeman), the Hawk offense was productive throughout. Colville compiled 338 yards on 48 plays (7.0 yard average), with the pass game accounting for 247 of that total. Roy would complete 11-of-20 passes for four scores, his third game this season with four or more in a game. McKeraghan led the receiving corps with 133 yards on three receptions, with McEvoy adding another 76 yards on four grabs.
“We did turn the ball over again, however, in my eyes these turnovers were not in the same light as the turnovers against Freeman,” said Mace. “I felt we did a much better job in being patient with the football and utilizing our short pass game as an extension of our run game, particularly on third down.”
Freshman Brock Benson got into the scoring act in the second quarter in what proved to be a pivotal turning point in the game. Ryan Pierce partially blocked an Ensminger punt, fortuitously falling into the hands of a surprised Benson at the Shadle Park 32-yard line. After a brief moment of confusion with the ball in tow, Benson raced the distance for the score, points that tied the game at 21 and swung momentum squarely back to the home team.
Rain is in the forecast for Friday night’s game against Lakeside, a team ranked No. 1 in the latest Class 1A SBLive Washington state poll and No. 3 in both the Associated Press and Cascadia Preps rankings. Led by fourth-year starting quarterback Kole Hunsaker, the Eagle offense has plenty of playmakers that the Blackshirts must account for tonight.
“The key to stopping Lakeside is stopping Hunsaker. He is the returning MVP of our league,” Mace explained. “He has a bevy of weapons around him with a lot of speed. We need to be able to pressure him off of his spots and cover well in the secondary. In addition, we must rally to the ball and tackle well in the run game and the pass game.”
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Colville 35, Shadle Park 28
SP - Beckett Ensminger 4 run (Memphis Lake kick)
COL - Allan McKeraghan 64 pass from Cale Roy (Johnathan Reeves kick)
SP - Ensminger 50 run (Lake kick)
COL - McKeraghan 60 pass from Roy (Reeves kick)
SP - Evan Lafferty 2 run (Lake kick)
COL - Brock Benson 32 blocked punt return (Reeves kick)
COL - Colbie McEvoy 12 pass from Roy (Reeves kick)
SP - Jordan Dever 31 pass from Natreven Dickerson (Lake kick)
COL - Emmet Marshall 13 pass from Roy (Reeves kick)
Shadle Park: Ensminger 16-181, Nic Tilton 6-38, Dickerson 6-26, Lafferty 8-16
Colville: Mason Beardsley 6-41, Isaiah Porter-Mills 8-32, Hunter Gleave 7-16, McKeraghan 1-6, Marshall 1-6, Roy 3-(minus) 4, Team 2-(minus) 6
Shadle Park: Dickerson 9-14-1-97, Lafferty 1-1-0-7
Colville: Roy 11-20-3-247
Shadle Park: Dever 4-58, Joey Barber 1-30, Chase Hendren 1-7, Tyler Yarger 3-6, Ensminger 1-3
Colville: McKeraghan 3-133, McEvoy 4-76, Porter-Mills 2-20, Marshall 1-13, Beardsley 1-5