The Homecoming crowd got what it came for Friday night as it witnessed one of the most exciting Pirate football wins in recent memory. The Pirates beat the Port Townsend Redhawks in a thrilling double-overtime win, 27-21. It is the first time the Pirates have won a homecoming game in seven years.
The Pirates have now turned their 0-3 district record of two weeks ago into a 2-3 record, injecting a feeling of hope and optimism into the team and its fans. After the team’s shut-out win (38-0) over the Chimacum Cowboys a week before, they approached the Port Townsend contest with hope, even after a tough start to the season and lopsided scores. They didn’t disappoint, and dominated the game from the start, with their first touchdown soon in the first quarter.
Because it was Homecoming, the crowd was larger than usual as Pirate alums returned, and the fans roared their support as the game wore on.
here were a few standout moments in the game, including one when senior running back Steven Rice ran the ball for more than 80 yards, just short of a touchdown. Jonathan Quintans also was a standout with a reception and run into the end zone for a touchdown.
Another moment was when Port Townsend had the ball in the fourth quarter with about two minutes left in the game. The Redhawks threw a pass into the end zone, and junior Sol Dehnert managed to block the pass with a dramatic dive.
All in all, the Pirates continued to play much more strongly than they did earlier in the season with a more solid defense and consistent running game on offense. Multiple impressive runs came from Connor Hoisington and Richard Rivas, as well as some nice scrambling from Dehnert at quarterback. Standing out on defense in the game were both Hoisington and Rice with multiple tackles.
In the end of the fourth quarter, the Pirates were set for victory — up eight points with less than a minute left on the clock.
But Port Townsend managed to score a touchdown and a two-point conversion, tying the game.
In overtime, Vashon took possession first and scored six points. And this was no small feat. Dehnert, a junior who has been helping out as quarterback since Grady Earle was injured earlier in the season (leaving quarterback Hoisington free to use his lightning speed as an occasional running back), showed what he was made of in the overtime showdown. The Pirates were close to their end zone, hoping for six, when the defense attacked Dehnert. After a scramble, as he was falling, he pitched the ball to Hoisington, who then threw it to Andreas Stark in the end zone for a touchdown. But the Pirates’ attempted two points failed, leaving them vulnerable to Port Townsend.
Then, Port Townsend took the ball and also scored six points. They were set to win the game if they either went for a two-point conversion or an extra point. The Redhawks decided to try for the extra point with a kick. And, in a stunning development, senior Cody Whitman jumped into the air and blocked the kick.
The Pirates then got the ball back one more time, and frequent offense stand-out Hoisington ran it in, clinching the double overtime win and creating a Vashon version of pandemonium for the Homecoming crowd.
“It’s nice to see them keep improving,” said head coach Clay Eastly. “The biggest thing from this game is that they know they can play through adversity and do what it takes to still win,” he said.
The Pirates have struggled this season and over the years to offer up a successful football program. But they came back after the win against Chimacum Oct. 13 with a renewed feeling of possibility and reignited support from their fans.
Case in point: Vashon treasure Lou Engels, owner of Engels Towing and fierce Vashon High School Pirates fan, never misses a game. He had to miss the Homecoming game while he was traveling in Florida. By the time the incredible game ended in double-overtime, it was 10:40 p.m. Vashon time (1:40 a.m. in Florida.)
Engels was getting text updates from his daughter in the stands. He didn’t want to miss a minute of the game.
The Pirates only have two regular season games left and will play at Charles Wright in Tacoma at 7 p.m. Friday. Then, on Friday, Nov. 3, the Pirates will play for the last time this season at home against Bellevue Christian.
— Lauri Hennessey is the mother of a VHS varsity football player.