THOMAS – Following a huge win over Kimberly in the opening week of local prep football by the score of 57-40, in which the Snake River Panthers never turned the ball over on downs or by a turnover and scored on all eight of the offensive possessions, they also gave up 40 points in the game, so the big question that remained was simply about the defense. Were they good enough to stop a team that could run the ball, because we all knew that Kimberly had a very prolific passing game with a super sensation in sophomore Gatlin Bair, who only scored four times against Panthers.
That answer came Friday night when the Panthers took on West Side, the two-time defending state champions in the 2A classification and the holder of a 23-game winning streak.
You can now make that a 24-game winning streak following a 27-0 shutout pitched by the Pirates at Harrison Field.
It didn’t take West Side long to establish the pace of the game as they simply ran the ball down the throats of the Panther defense. It didn’t matter if they went inside or outside, running back Cage Brokens had the answer as he ripped off gains on nearly every play that he carried.
When Brokens didn’t have the ball, Parker Henderson or Owen Nielson did the damage and they ground out four consecutive first downs on the opening drive.
By the time the Pirates reached the Snake River 30 yard line, quarterback Blaize Brown decided to switch things up and he threw a pass that the Pirates’ big wide receiver Bryler Shurtliff simply went up and took the ball away from anyone who dared to catch the ball. The result was a first and goal on the Panthers’ one yard line and a play later, the Pirates were on the board via a one yard run by Brokens. With the extra point, the Pirates held a 7-0 lead.
That score came at the 6:40 mark of the first quarter which only shows you that the game plan was to eat up clock and keep the ball away from the Panthers.
After Snake River worked the ball down the field they would eventually turn the ball over on downs and West Side went back to work. They continued to ride the legs of Brokens, who would end the night with 22 carries for 100 yards and as they moved the ball down the field, they were also chewing up time on the scoreboard. They simply ran out the clock in the first quarter and shortened the game for the Panthers.
As the teams switched ends of the field, the Pirates had the ball on the Panther one yard line and this time the ball went to Henderson who responded with a one yard touchdown run at the 11:52 mark of the second quarter and with the extra point, it was 14-0 West Side.
The stands had barely quieted down from the excitement of the second touchdown when the Pirages nearly had a third from the defense.
At the 10:45 mark of the second quarter, Snake River quarterback Cole Gilbert dropped back to pass and as he threw the ball, Bryler Shurtliff let everyone in the stadium know that he was on the field. The player that earned all-state honors at three positions a year ago showed everyone why. He went high into the air to grab the interception and headed the other way. Had it not been for an illegal block, he may have had the ball inside the 10 yard line and the Pirates would have been knocking on the door once again.
It didn’t matter, as the Pirates would score anyway, this time on a 30 yard pass play from Brown to Shurtliff and the Pirates were suddenly ahead by the score of 20-0 following a missed extra point. There were only 13 second remaining in the half.
The second half was not much different for both teams. Snake River received the second half kickoff, drove the ball down the field before they were stopped and then West Side went back to the run and at the 2:22 mark of the third period, Brokens got his second score of the night from one yard out. With the extra point, it was 27-0 and the Pirates turned to their defense to close the game out.
WEST SIDE 27, SNAKE RIVER 0
West Side 7 13 7 0 — 27
Snake River 0 0 0 0 — 0
WS — Cage Brokens 1-yard touchdown run (Easton Shurtliff XP good), 6:40.
WS — Parker Henderson 1-yard touchdown run (Easton Shurtliff XP good), 11:52.
WS — Bryler Shurtliff 30-yard touchdown catch from Blaize Brown. (Easton Shurtliff XP no good), 0:13
WS — Cage Brokens 1-yard touchdown run (Easton Shurtliff XP good), 2:22.
PASSING: WS — Blaize Brown 8-9-119-1-0, Eli Brown 1-1-14 // SR — Cole Gilbert 4-10-30-0-3.
RUSHING: WS — Cage Brokens 22-100-2, Parker Moser 3-31, Owen Nielsen 5-21, Easton Shurtliff 3-13, Parker Henderson 5-10-1, Blaize Brown 3-8, Lincoln Henderson 1-4, Cristian Plancarte 3-1 // SR — Zach Stailey 8-32, Cole Gilbert 3-31, Jace Mortensen 4-21, Carson Hawker 9-16, Johnny Jones 3-14, Levi Belnap 3-6, Danny Molina 1-8, Tyce Hansen 1-1.
RECEIVING: WS — Bryler Shurtliff 3-61-1, Cristian Plancarte 2-19, Karson Chugg 1-17, Lincoln Henderson 1-14, Cage Brokens 1-13, Owen Nielsen 1-9 // SR — Jace Mortensen 2-19, Rylan Anderson 1-7, Andy Serna 1-4.