Senior Jacob Sealby was a one-man wrecking crew last Friday. The large, and extremely quick, Wenatchee running back rushed for 312 yards and two touchdowns to power the Panthers to a 34-13 victory over the Sunnyside High School football team.
The Panthers, ranked in the top 10 in the state's 4A division, are now 7-0 on the season. Sealby's 312-yard effort on the ground last Friday gives him more than 1,200 rushing yards this year, with three more regular-season games remaining.
"He's probably the best running back we've seen this season," said Sunnyside Coach Mark Marro. "He's a 4x100 all-stater...great speed.
"You throw in that big o-line that Wenatchee has, it just makes it that much tougher to stop him."
As dominating as the Panthers were on the Sunnyside gridiron last Friday night, the Grizzlies, surprisingly, gave the visitors a battle.
Sunnyside, using a mix of inside hand-offs to running backs Danny Almeida and Victor Rios and sprinkling in some timely passes from QB Andrew Daley, advanced down the field on the opening drive of the game. That initial march was kept alive twice on fourth-down conversions. The first came on a quarterback keeper by Daley, who scrambled for a first-down. The second fourth-down conversion, which moved the ball to the Wenatchee 11, was the result of a Daley-to-Rios hook-up through the air.
The Grizzlies proceeded to erase the goose egg from the scoreboard when Rios, on the next play, busted a run right up the gut, straight into the end zone.
The ensuing PAT by Steven Monterrey put Sunnyside up 7-0. The Grizzlies, despite being 2-3 in CBBN play and 2-5 overall, have now had leads in all seven games they have played this season.
Wenatchee responded with a drive of its own on its first possession. The Panthers opened with a nifty pass out on the right flat, but then proceeded to pound the ball down the Grizzlies' throat.
Sunnyside stiffened, though, inside its own 10-yard line, forcing a fourth-and-goal from the four. The Panthers elected to kick the field goal, making it 7-3 in favor of the Grizzlies.
"A great goal line stand by our kids," said Marro.
The first nail in the coffin for Sunnyside, however, came on the Grizzlies' next drive. After completing a third-and-12 pass from its own 18, a Daley to Rios hook-up that moved the ball to the Sunnyside 36, Daley served up his only interception of the game. That gave Wenatchee the ball deep in Grizzly territory. Two plays later Sealby broke off a 15-yard run for the first of his two TD's.
Down 10-7 but undeterred, the Grizzlies began piecing together another drive. Junior Emmanuel Tejada figured in prominently, opening the second-quarter march with a nifty six-yard run, then hauling in a 20-yard pass from Daley that took the ball to the Sunnyside 46-yard line. Three plays later, Almeida, Sunnyside's leading ground-gainer in the game with 122 rushing yards, snapped off an 11-yard run through heavy traffic in the middle of the field to the Wenatchee 38.
Unfortunately for the Grizzlies the drive stalled at that point, forcing Sunnyside to punt the ball from the Panthers' 42. Senior James Sanchez hustled down the field on the kick, though, to down the ball at the nine-yard line.
With just under six minutes remaining in the half, and giving Wenatchee a long field with which to work, it appeared as though Sunnyside might go into the locker room at intermission trailing by just three.
Wenatchee had different thoughts.
Sealby scampered 14 yards on the Panthers' first play, then broke off a 77-yarder to pay dirt that leveled three Grizzly defenders and more or less drove the second nail into the Sunnyside coffin.
"He ran right through three of our tacklers," Marro said of Sealby's bruising touchdown run, which upped Wenatchee's lead to 17-7.
The Panthers proceeded to clamp down on Sunnyside on the ensuing drive, forcing a punt from the Grizzly 26. Wenatchee blocked the kick and recovered it at the Sunnyside 37 with about four minutes still remaining in the half.
Advancing the ball to the Sunnyside two-yard line, it appeared as if Wenatchee was on the verge of salting the game away. Calling his own number, Panther QB Cam Hoey followed his center on a quarterback keeper, only to have the ball swatted from his hands by a Grizzly linebacker. Defensive lineman Chance Graff, a senior, scooped up the loose pigskin and rumbled 20 yards out to the Grizzly 22.
Sunnyside ended up punting the ball away on the ensuing drive, and the Panthers followed suit when they took back possession, effectively bringing a close to the first half.
Rafael Ochoa booted through the goal posts his second field goal of the night on Wenatchee's opening drive of the second half, giving the Panthers a 20-7 lead.
Still, it was just a two-possession deficit for Sunnyside.
It appeared as though the Grizzlies were going to close to within just being a touchdown behind when they promptly drove the ball to the Wenatchee 27. But facing a fourth-and-two, they came up half a yard short on a run up the middle.
The Panthers took possession of the ball but couldn't muster an attack, and were forced to punt.
The Grizzlies started another march, from their own 20, and advanced to mid-field before stalling yet again. Forced to punt, Sunnyside's Adrian Ramirez lofted a long, arching boot to the Wenatchee 25-yard line. Return specialist Peter Culp scooped in the ball, then was off to the races. He dodged his way past Grizzly defenders and zipped 75 yards for a TD, driving in the third and final nail into the Sunnyside coffin.
The Panthers, up 27-7, added an insurance score midway through the fourth quarter on a four-yard TD pass from Hoey to Eric Kunz.
Sunnyside accounted for the final 34-13 score when Daley, with a minute and a half remaining in the game, threw a 20-yard scoring strike to Ryan Hernandez.
"Offensively, we made a lot of good things happen," said Marro. He said Wenatchee was playing to shut down Sunnyside's outside runs, so his club took advantage of the open spaces in the middle of the field.
The inside runs netted the Grizzlies 189 rushing yards.
Passing-wise, Daley totaled 135 yards through the air on 11-of-30 throwing numbers.
Marro said his QB is starting to trust that his offensive line will give him time to throw. "He's getting better at sitting in the pocket," he said, but added the coaching staff will be working with Daley this week to get him to throw off his front foot.
"Andrew was throwing off his back foot, and the ball sailed several times on him last Friday," said Marro.
In containing the Panthers' offensive attack, Sunnyside's leaders included Sanchez and Leo Cuellar, defensive backs. They were in on 10 and eight tackles, respectively.
"Good numbers, but you don't want defensive backs leading your team in tackles," said Marro.
In looking ahead to this coming Friday's game at Moses Lake, Marro said his Grizzlies should stack up pretty well with the Chieftains.
"Early in the season they threw the ball quite a bit. The last few games they've been running it more.
"Moses Lake should be a pretty good match-up for us," Marro said. "They're kind of like us...no real individual standouts, they play good, team football."
RUSHING - (Wenatchee) Jacob Sealby 26-312, Blair Dorn 3-3, Cooper Helm 1-0, Cam Hoey 1-4, Noah Fenhaus 1-8. (Sunnyside) Andrew Daley 3-13, Victor Rios 6-28, Emmanuel Tejada 5-3, Ryan Hernandez 1- -1, Danny Almeida 21-122, Steven Monterrey 1-24.
PASSING - (Wenatchee) Cooper Helm 1-2-0-11, Cam Hoey 6-9-0-34. (Sunnyside) Andrew Daley 11-30-1-135.
RECEIVING - (Wenatchee) Blair Dorn 2-16, Jared Jaeger 1-11, Charles Sideriu 1-3, Lucus Sealby 1-8, Eric Kunz 1-4. (Sunnyside) Victor Rios 3-37, Emmanuel Tejada 2-27, Buddha Palomarez 1-28, Ryan Hernandez 1-20, Danny Almeida 3-18, Steven Monterrey 1-5.