Shockers wrap up winning season

Junior quarterback Nolan Ruud (3) drops back for a pass against Columbia in the first game of the season. (Joel Harding photo)

 

By Joel Harding

On Nov. 4, the Shocker football team learned that their season was over when the Liberty Bell Mountain Lions declined a second game with them. While there was disappointment, especially among the team members, they celebrated the first winning football season in several years. The Shockers won five and lost three games. The wins came against Columbia High School of Hunters, Wellpinit High School, two wins against the Yakama Nation School of Toppenish and one victory over Liberty Bell High School. Waterville lost to Odessa-Harrington, Sunnyside Christian and Pateros.

For the first time in 20 years, Waterville and Mansfield fielded a team together. Four athletes from Mansfield made the trek to Waterville each afternoon for practice. The Mansfield boys made a definite contribution to the success of the team. CJ Wall was the leading rusher and Colin Pate was a core member on the defense. Logan Cooper also contributed on both sides of the ball. Zane Salcido, a junior wide receiver, made a significant offensive contribution and will bring his experience on both sides of the ball for another year.

Waterville’s offense emerged as an explosive unit as the season developed. Strong-armed junior quarterback Nolan Ruud hit wide receivers Rafael Capi and Taylor Riggs, particularly, for nice gains and touchdowns and found running backs Wall and Tanner Marden as well. Slot receiver Wyatt Mires was particularly effective in running shorter patterns and turning them into big gains. Lakin Thomsen was a strong blocker at tight end and had a 60-yard touchdown reception in the Liberty Bell game. Defensive specialist Tyler Tollackson broke out offensively with a touchdown against Yakama Nation. Marden gained 150 yards and scored three touchdowns against Liberty Bell.

On defense and in offensive line, Waterville improved significantly over the season. Alex Ludeman and Mires were senior leaders. Capi was a stalwart in the deep secondary. Thomsen kept the field narrow from his position as defensive end. On the line, Andy Caballero, Joseph Dahlke, brothers Matt and Dillon McCullough and Jesus Ruiz opened holes on offense and closed them on defense. Senior Connor Poppie held the line at end on both offense and defense. Mat Deshazer, also a senior, was fast as a running back and tough as an old shoe in the middle of the defensive line. With his speed and strength, Deshazer recovered several fumbles and took them into the end zone for scores along with his quick moves on the offensive side of the ball.

Waterville had a large turnout for football this year and expects the same next year. There were eight eighth- and ninth-graders who gained valuable experience playing in games where Waterville had big leads. The 15 juniors and sophomores will be the core of the 2015 football team and the coaches hope to recruit some players for next year who did not play this year.