The Vashon Island High School Pirates football team did not come out victorious at the annual homecoming game Friday, Oct. 4, suffering a 38-14 defeat against the Port Townsend High School Redhawks.
The Pirates have been hobbled all season by a number of injuries to their first-string players. That has left the team to rely on many first-time players to take key positions and scramble to find replacements with a limited group available on the sidelines when there are injuries during a game.
Coach Clay Eastly says despite all that, this game was a big step forward for the team.
“We came out a little slow and they got up 16-0 in the first quarter,” he said. “But we played a really good defensive second quarter.”
Key to that was the team’s defensive backs, Jack Cunningham, Martin Ellison, Hunter Denall and Bryce Joanis, who played a standout second quarter, holding back the Redhawks’ offense. Eastly said sophomore Zander Rutschow, who is a first-time player, also had a critical role in limiting Port Townsend’s progress.
“He came in at nose guard and shut down their inside offense. It’s the most extended time he’s had in a game this season,” Eastly said.
Freshman Will Weber, who has been playing quarterback since almost the start of the season, left the field with an injury in the fourth quarter. That precipitated the difficult question of who should take his place on the field. The answer was Ryan Nelson, a junior who has been primarily a running back on offense — and he delivered, running in two touchdowns himself.
“Ryan had a really good game,” Eastly said.
In each of the touchdowns, kicking for an extra point wasn’t an option, as both of the kickers on the team were injured. Instead, Nelson tried both times for a 2-point conversion, which was successful on the second of the two attempts.
The Pirates’ next game will be at Klahowya High School for their Homecoming game this Friday. The Eagles are the only other team in the Nisqually league that has not yet won a game. With players Elijah Dougher and Richard Rivas-Gutierrez expected back on the field, Eastly is optimistic about the outcome.
“I feel like we have a great chance,” he said. “The team has a positive attitude, they’re fighting as hard as they can and they are getting better each week. That’s all that I can ask for.”
The Pirates-Eagles game kicks off in Silverdale at 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 11.
— Anne Higuera is the parent of a Pirate football player.