EVERETT — Things continue to look up for the Cascade Bruins football team.
On their Homecoming Night — and less than two years removed from a winless season — the Bruins got 202 yards rushing from junior Kejuan Coleman and their defense stymied Jackson in a 37-0 Wesco 4A South victory Friday night at Everett Memorial Stadium.
“It’s not the score, as much as it is this being the best (game) on offense, defense and special teams that we’ve played all season,” Cascade head coach Joe Cronin said. “We just played extremely consistently.”
Coleman ran the ball 25 times and scored twice. On Cascade’s first drive of the second half, he had four carries and accounted for 78 yards on the Bruins’ 88-yard scoring drive. He finished it off with a 2-yard touchdown run.
He added a 22-yard score on Cascade’s next drive.
“He’s a good athlete,” Cronin said of his running back. “Nobody works harder. Nobody deserves it more.”
The win sets up a Wesco 4A South showdown next week with Kamiak, which like Cascade is 3-1 in conference play. The winner of that game is guaranteed a quad-district playoff berth, while the loser goes to a play-in game with the Wesco 4A North No. 3 seed for the district’s fifth playoff berth.
Friday’s win continued a rather remarkable turnaround for a Cascade team that went 0-10 two seasons ago and 5-5 last season.
“We reminded them at halftime,” Cronin said. “We said, ‘Seniors, raise your hand.’ They did. Then we said, ‘Could you imagine, two years ago, being 5-1 (overall) and up 10-0 on Jackson at halftime with a chance to go to the playoffs?’… It’s really cool seeing the kids buy in, work hard and have it pay off. With that win it got us in to the playoff picture.”
The Bruins made sure their homecoming was a happy one right from the get-go, taking 6 minutes, 23 seconds to score on their opening drive. After 10 rushing plays and three pass attempts — one of which was completed by Cascade quarterback Josh Smith — the Bruins settled for a 33-yard field goal by Spencer Bowlden.
It was the first of several long, drawn-out drives by Cascade, which was exactly what the Bruins wanted to do: keep the Jackson offense on the sidelines.
“The goal was to control the clock and run the football,” Cronin said. “We limited them to two offensive possessions in the first half.”
Those two possessions both ended the same way for the Timberwolves — with Jackson fumbles in the red zone that the Bruins recovered.
On its opening drive, Jackson rushed down to the Cascade 10-yard line — with seven carries by Nick White and two by Trey Robinson — before the Timberwolves’ first fumble. On Jackson’s ensuing drive, it lost the ball on the Cascade 13-yard line.
“I was extremely (surprised),” Cronin said when Jackson came out running the ball. “And they were having success.”
White finished the game with 104 yards on 16 carries. The Timberwolves didn’t attempt a pass until more than eight minutes into the second quarter and when they did, the Cascade defense got after Jackson quarterback Alex Cheesman, intercepting two passes.
The Bruins’ special teams came up just as big. Cascade’s first punt came with 3:53 left in the game and when the catch was muffed by the Jackson returner and the Bruins recovered their third fumble of the game.
That, combined with the two interceptions, gave Cascade five takeaways.
“It was a great job by the defensive staff,” Cronin said. “They did a great job putting a game plan together.”
The offense did just as well, putting up 37 points on a Jackson squad that beat the Bruins 39-20 last season. Along with Coleman, Smith completed 10 of 13 passes for 138 yards and two touchdowns and ran the ball eight times for 69 yards.
Malik Rackliff, who had the first four runs of the game for Cascade in a formation it calls “beef,” finished with 14 carries for 69 yards. The beef formation features an “overload to the right” side of the line, Cronin said.
The win capped a long night of celebrating for Cascade and its fans. The homecoming festivities started early in the evening with a big Cascade tailgate party at the stadium. Cronin and the Bruins made sure the large, Cascade-dominated crowd went home happy.
“To see the school rally around football is incredible,” Cronin said. “Our motto is, ‘Crimson to the core.’ Everyone’s decked out in crimson and gray. And the fans just pack the stands.”
David Krueger covers prep sports for The Herald. Follow him on Twitter @Krueger_David and contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
At Everett Memorial Stadium
Jackson 0 0 0 0 — 0
Cascade 3 7 14 13 — 37
C–Spencer Bowlden 33 FG
C–KJ Brady 15 pass from Josh Smith (Bowlden kick)
C–Kejuan Coleman 2 run (Bowlden kick)
C–Coleman 22 run (Bowlden kick)
C–Kaleb Dobson 42 pass from Smith (kick failed)
C–Omar Carreon 4 run (Bowlden kick)
Record–Jackson 1-3 league, 3-4 overall. Cascade 3-1, 6-1.