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Castle Rock 34, Columbia High 12

Bruins bow to Rockets in Trico football opener

Columbia High scored a pair of second-half touchdowns in its Trico Division opener last Friday to prevent a shutout at Castle Rock.

Starting fullback Devin Dean scored on a 35-yard run early in the third quarter and reserves Kyle Earls and Taylor Champion hooked up on a scoring pass play late in the fourth to make the final score 34-12.

The Rockets (2-0 in Trico, 3-1 overall) led, 34-0, at halftime, scoring 14 points in the first quarter and 20 in the second.

Bruins Coach Matt Whitmire said favorable field position enabled the Rockets to roll up the big first-half lead.

"They had a short field much of the first half and made good use of it," Whitmire said. "Castle Rock just handed the ball off and said `stop us,' and we didn't."

Castle Rock's Will Lomer put the Rockets on the scoreboard with 8:11 remaining in the first quarter, taking it in from 2 yards. The short scoring drive resulted from a Columbia High mistake after the game's opening series had stalled.

CHS punter Josh Burrell went to field a low snap from center on fourth down and his knee touched the ground; the play was blown dead there and Castle Rock quickly capitalized.

"Things just kind of snowballed on us from there," Whitmire said.

Lucas Myers found the end zone for his first of three touchdowns--a 1-yard plunge with 6:05 left in the first quarter--to give Castle Rock a two-TD lead.

Lomer scored again on a 17-yard run on the first play of the second quarter, and Myers added a 3-yard run nearly five minutes later, then took a screen pass from Aaron Gehring 50 yards on the last play of the half for a 34-0 Rockets advantage.

Castle Rock's defense, for its part, bottled up Columbia High's run-oriented offense--the one that produced more than 1,000 yards in CHS's first two games--keying on and holding the Bruins' leading rusher, Andrew Culp, to 14 yards on the night. (Culp raised his season total to 522.)

Dean, who rushed for a season-high 91 yards, and Trenton Phernettton (five carries for 34 yards), took up some of the slack, but not enough to help the Bruins make a better game of it.

Whitmire said the reasons for CHS's offensive slowdown the last two games--355 yards of total offense versus Montesano and Castle Rock--were twofold.

"We've run into much better teams," he said, "and we've lost some kids to injury and to suspensions for off-field conduct."

Two-way starter Mason Giovannoni, the team's number-two rusher (458 yards) and leading tackler (29 solo stops), didn't play at Castle Rock because of a knee injury. He's also expected to miss CHS's next two games.

"That's a big hit," Whitmire said. "You take Mason or Andrew (Culp) out of the equation, plus some of the people up front who we depend on for blocking, it makes it much harder for this offense to fly."

Columbia also missed Giovannoni's presence on defense. The team's top tackler, Whitmire noted, "means as much if not more to our defense because of his tenaciousness. He just makes us a better team all-around when he's on the field."

Still, in spite of the injury setbacks and consecutive road losses, Whitmire and the Bruins (0-1, 2-2) aren't even close to panicking.

"It's early, there's a lot of football left to be played. And the bottom line is, these kids don't know how to quit. As long as they keep competing, we'll keep coaching them," Whitmire said.

Next up:

Columbia High's next two games are at home--against Hockinson this Friday and versus Stevenson on Oct. 7 (homecoming for CHS).

"Hockinson and Stevenson couldn't be coming at a better time," said Whitmire. "We need to get everybody healthy and to get our ship righted. A win or two in the next two weeks is important to our season."

Hockinson's Hawks (1-1, 2-2), who beat Stevenson, 14-7, two weeks ago for the school's first Trico victory, had a two-game win streak stopped last Friday by Woodland, 41-14.

Last season, Columbia won the first game between the schools, 39-0.

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