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Pirates to play Meridian Trojans on Nov. 11

By DON OLSON

For The Beachcomber

The Pirates fell to the Cascade Christian Cougars 34-17 on Wednesday, but will have a chance to redeem themselves on Tuesday, Nov. 11, when the team faces the Meridian Trojans in a "loser-out" playoff game.

Had the Pirates beaten the Cougars, they would have shared the Nisqually League Championship with Cascade Christian and Orting, but it was not to be.

This might have had a very different outcome. However, the Pirates were flagged for some crucial penalties while marching towards the Cougar goal line; there were some ball handling issues in the backfield, and Cascade Christian made third-down long touchdown passes.

The Pirates defense against the run was dominant throughout the game. It is obvious that Cascade Christian places a big emphasis on football — their roster listed 68 players, Vashon's listed 36.

By halftime, the Cougars enjoyed a 24 to 0 lead.

The game stats showed the Cougars producing total offense of 391 yards, 234 from passing. Their dominant running back Devin Ossman had 21 carries for 145 yards. Their quarterback Ben Johnson threw four touchdown passes.

By comparison, the Pirates assembled a total of 208 yards rushing with only 52 yards from passing. Against a strong Cougar defense, running back Nathan Betz again had a big game with 159 yards and two touchdowns. One of those touchdowns went for 79 yards — he outran every Cougar by 12 yards into the end zone.

Nathan Betz has now assembled more than 1,000 yards of run offense, and 11 touchdowns for the season scheduled games — a HUGE accomplishment.

The second half slowed down the Cougar touchdown production and resulted in the Pirates putting two scores on the board. The second touchdown was followed by a successful two-point attempt bringing the score to Cascade Christian 31, Vashon 14, with the game clock at 11:11 in the fourth quarter. That must have scared the Cougars, since they immediately had all of their first string players back on the field.

Hamzah Griffin distinguished himself with the recovery of two Cougar fumbles, catching a pass, and solid tackling. Austin Frank had two catches and Michael Stoffer played a great defensive game, with quarterback sacks and blocked passes.

This was the last game of the Pirates scheduled games, and the first winning season (six wins, four losses) in many years.

The foundation for winning begins with dedicated, quality coaching and the Pirates have found that.

If you see Clay Eastly, Scott Betz, Rick Sassara, Mark Ledbetter or Bob Jackson give them “thanks” for all the time and attention they give to guiding the Pirates to success.

At 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 11, Vashon will play a "loser-out" playoff game against the Meridian Trojans, at Civic Stadium in Bellingham.

— Don Olson is the grandfather of Pirate Jeff Rauma.

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