After coming away with a decisive 48-6 victory at Portland Christian in the season opener, the Neah-Kah-Nie offence struck early and often at Waldport this past Friday, moving to 2-0 on the season with a 58-6 win.
By Travis Champ
Halfway through the first quarter, a 23-yard strike from quarterback Josh Longfellow to Bryce Bridge gave the Pirates a 22-0 lead.
The Irish never threatened to score the entire first half of the game, going 3-and-out on the majority of their possessions that did not end in turnover.
Starting running back, Mychal Kelly gained 114 yards on 11 carries from scrimmage. Longfellow added 108 yards on just 7 carries. Fullback Tristan Bennett, when not decleating Walport defenders as lead blocker, picked up 48 yards on 10 carries, and a pair of short touchdown runs.
One of the most obvious attributes of this team, thus far in the season, is their depth at the running back position. Junior tailback Josh Elinsky ran for 52 yards on 4 carries, and Giovanni Barr, in his first game as a Pirate, carried the ball 3 times for 33 yards. This surplus of productive ball carriers gives offensive coordinator Clayton Hall plenty of ways to keep the defense guessing.
It is also worth noting that freshman center Travis Bennett has been nearly flawless while snapping to Longfellow, who is almost always lined up in shotgun. It’s a job that is often overlooked, but a less talented center would certainly be a burden to this high-paced Pirate offence.
Defensively, the Pirates resembled a brick wall. Tucker Champ and Kent Piper held down the line of scrimmage all night at their end positions, while junior tackle Travis Jonsson plugged up the middle with his intimidating 6’3, 275 lb. frame. Outside linebacker Jack Porter stepped up and made some big tackles, as well as an interception in drop back coverage, which led to a score late in the second quarter, putting the Pirates ahead 38-0 at the half.
“We really played well on defence,” said Coach Chris Bennett. “We had a good push off the line, and our ball pursuit has gotten much better since last week.”
The Pirates even looked much stronger this week on special teams. Josh Elinsky buried the return man on multiple kickoffs, and, though he didn’t get many opportunities at Waldport, Dustin Donaldson is turning into a reliable punter with good distance and hangtime.
Neah-Kah-Nie travels to Warrenton this Friday. With a similar efficiency from Longfellow, Kelly and the rest of the backfield, as well as continued improvements at offensive tackle by Caleb Smith and Jett Johnston, the Pirates should put up some big numbers against a Warrior defence that has already given up 67 points in two games this season.