EVERETT – Who needs offense?
On a day where neither team could move the ball with any regularity, the West’s defense dominated in a 14-0 victory over the East in Saturday’s 40th Annual East-West All-Star football game at Everett Memorial Stadium.
“It was pretty surprising,” West linebacker Logan Cullen (Anacortes) said about the defensive battle.
“I thought we were going to march down the field and throw 40-yard bombs. I thought the East was going to do the same thing.”
Cullen, the West’s Most Valuable Player, blocked a punt and sacked the quarterback twice as the West held East to 109 yards in a game that was an offensive snoozer from start to finish.
Here are some offensive gems from Saturday’s game, which featured many of the top recently-graduated prep players in the state.
* Jackson’s Johnie Kirton was held to his lowest rushing total since his junior year (16 carries, 56 yards), but the other 13 rushers in the game combined for a grand total of three yards.
* The two teams combined to go 5-for-26 on third down, including a span of 12 consecutive series when neither team managed a first down.
* The East attempted 26 passes during one stretch without a net gain of more than 9 yards.
* The East, which managed a total of minus-18 rushing yards, did not have a running play go for more than six yards.
The game’s low-light came with 2:56 remaining in the first half. The West burned a timeout to set up one of the game’s 14 punts. After the timeout, the West was penalized five yards for a false start before executing a successful 28-yard punt.
“I was expecting more offense,” said West coach Dick Nicholl, whose team won the yardage battle 197-109. “On the other hand, when you’ve got defenses with speed, it’s not easy.”
One big West play was enough to win the slugfest.
Issaquah’s 5-foot-9 receiver Blake Ferguson, an unlikely hero considering the statures of West receivers Keauntea Bankhead (Ballard), Jeff Fritchman (Lake Washington) and Chancellor Young (O’Dea), out-leaped East cornerback J.R. Jamerson of Pasco to haul in a 27-yard TD pass from Ballard’s Cole Morgan. The play, which resulted in a 7-0 lead with 9:24 remaining in the first half, came on fourth-and-14 when it seemed yet another drive had stalled.
With all the talented skill position players on the West roster, Ferguson the West didn’t score more in the game.
“I’m surprised we didn’t blow them out,” Ferguson said. “We had a lot of penalties and mistakes and we could have played a lot better. We had a lot better team than them.”
East running back Tyler Mattair, who had to change jerseys after Adam Hineline essentially ripped the first one off of his back, agreed with Ferguson.
“We played hard but they just took it to us,” said Mattair, who managed a team-best 10 carries for 16 yards. “They had a lot more scholarship athletes. I think we played pretty well considering they had a lot of guys on full rides and we don’t.
“They were bigger than us, faster than us.”
West put the game away in the fourth quarter. Cullen, who was dominant despite playing linebacker instead of his usual defensive end position, blocked Ben Hannula’s punt. O’Dea’s Andre Geraghty recovered the ball at the East 17, setting up Burlington-Edison’s Saxton Shearer’s 3-yard plunge. Oak Harbor’s Blake Ward, who rushed three times for 12 yards, kicked his second extra point of the game for a 14-0 lead with 7:23 remaining.
Moses Lake’s Mitch Reffett was named the East’s MVP. Kamiak quarterback Gary Rogers, who was one of the West team captains, started the game and completed five of 11 passes for 64 yards.