Defense propels Pirates to first NWL win in years

It has been a long time since the Neah-Kah-Nie Pirates have tasted a Northwest League football win at the varsity level.

By Brad Mosher
bmosher@countrymedia.net

Nestucca's Kyle Zeller (26) tries to get past Neah-Kah-Nie defenders Max Halverson (11) and Greg Elligsen (22) Friday. Visiting Neah-Kah-Nie won the Northwest League opener for both teams by a 32-8 margin.
Nestucca’s Kyle Zeller (26) tries to get past Neah-Kah-Nie defenders Max Halverson (11) and Greg Elligsen (22) Friday. Visiting Neah-Kah-Nie won the Northwest League opener for both teams by a 32-8 margin.

A year ago, the school cancelled its league schedule after injuries decimated the team and forced it to play an eight-man or JV schedule. The Pirates ended that drought Friday with a 32-8 victory over Nestucca in Cloverdale.

Although the Pirates jumped out to an early lead, it was the defense the coach praised after the win.

“Turnovers were the key,” Neah-Kah-Nie coach Chris Bennet said. “We recovered four fumbles and got the ball on those. We really were able to capitalize on those turnovers. We had two pick-6s (interceptions) that were really big for us.”

Greg Elligsen and Destin Donaldson picked up the defensive scores.

“He’s a freshman kid who has been playing some good defense for us,” Bennett said about Donaldson. “This week he really came into his own.”

The coach praised the Bobcats.

“Nestucca did a very, very good job defending us,” Bennett said. “They were putting their linebackers where they needed to be and they were really tough up front. Really, they shut our offense down. In the second half, it was all our defense that did the work.”

Neah-Kah-Nie's Max Halverson (11) breaks through the Nestucca defense Friday for a 54-yard score in the second quarter of the Northwest League football opener for both schools. The visiting Pirates won a 32-8 decision, putting them in a tie for the league lead.
Neah-Kah-Nie’s Max Halverson (11) breaks through the Nestucca defense Friday for a 54-yard score in the second quarter of the Northwest League football opener for both schools. The visiting Pirates won a 32-8 decision, putting them in a tie for the league lead.

Still, Bennett agreed that getting the win was big for the Pirates.

“It was a big win for us,” he said. “But I told the guys after the game ‘we have to quit these ugly wins.’”

Josh Longfellow had 17 carries for 133 yards and two touchdowns for the Pirates.

Nestucca's Kyle Zeller (26) tries to get past Neah-Kah-Nie defenders Max Halverson (11) and Travis Jonsson (75) Friday. Visiting Neah-Kah-Nie won the Northwest League opener for both teams by a 32-8 margin.
Nestucca’s Kyle Zeller (26) tries to get past Neah-Kah-Nie defenders Max Halverson (11) and Travis Jonsson (75) Friday. Visiting Neah-Kah-Nie won the Northwest League opener for both teams by a 32-8 margin.

Max Halvorsen had eight carries for 82 yards and one touchdown – a 54-yard run near the end of the first half.

With the start of league play, it is a new season for the team, Bennett said.

The Pirates host Monroe Friday in a non-league game. The Dragons are 1-4 this season with the only win being a 55-20 victory over Nestucca.








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