ASHTON — In a world where there is no North Fremont High School, West Jefferson is rolling through a legendary football season. In the real world, however, there is an NFHS, and West Jefferson has rolled into the offseason.
Unbeaten by any other 2A team this season, the Panthers dropped a 44-6 decision to the Huskies in the state quarterfinals Friday to close 2018 at 7-3.
The 10-0 North Fremont Huskies have been a juggernaut this fall, running their way into their first state semifinal appearance since 1989.
“The coaches just put together an awesome scheme for us, and our line executed it beautifully,” North Fremont senior quarterback Garrett Hawkes said. “West Jeff comes hard off the ball, and we knew we had to be ready to handle that.”
The Huskies tallied 345 total yards from scrimmage — all rushing — getting those yards on just 36 offensive plays.
West Jefferson, on the other hand, ran 61 total plays resulting in 284 yards and just one score.
“North is one heck of a team that just out-physicaled us tonight,” West Jefferson senior Max Ricks said. “I have nothing but respect for that team.”
West Jeff also lost to North 53-12 during the Nuclear Conference regular season. In that game, North ran for 468, mostly between the tackles.
In Friday night’s playoff game, the big yardage came primarily outside the tackles on options and sweeps, including rushing touchdowns of 80, 40 and 29 for Hawkes who finished with 165 yards on eight carries.
In all, Hawkes scored four touchdowns and kicked two extra points, accounting for 26 of his team’s 44 points.
North Fremont junior Riggen Cordingley also ran for a score, as did teammate Blake Oberhansley.
West Jefferson’s lone score came early in the second quarter on a one-yard run by junior Branson Morton.
As Ricks sees it, this is North’s chance to go forward and represent the Nuclear Conference on the big stage.
“I wish ‘em luck,” he said. “If they’re going to be the ones to beat us and knock us out, they might as well take it all the way.”
North moves on to face the winner of the Grangeville-Cole Valley game in the semifinals next weekend, with the winner of that semifinal game playing for the state title.
“The coaches teach us to stay humble and stay hungry,” Hawkes said. “We are going to be facing some great athletes and some big teams, and as long as we play as a unit instead of individual athletes, we will go places.”