Henkle Middle School split a Lower Columbia Activities Association football double-header last Thursday at Ridgefield.
The Grizzlies' eighth-grade squad gave up a touchdown on the game's opening drive but shut out the View Ridge Rebels the rest of the way en route to a 26-7 victory.
Jensen Ladiges scored four times for the Grizzlies, who opened the season with a 50-0 win at home--with a mixed roster of seventh- and eighth-grade players--against Canyon Creek on Sept. 15.
Henkle answered View Ridge's first-quarter scoring drive with a length-of-the-field march of its own that ended in a run up the middle by Ladiges.
A miss on the point-after try, however, left the Grizzlies trailing, 7-6, but not for long.
The Grizzlies' defense held the Rebels' offense on the ensuing series and forced a punt that Ladiges fielded around his 30-yard line and returned for a touchdown. Steven Beattie booted the PAT and Henkle led, 13-7.
Another Ladiges TD--on a sweep--and Beattie PAT in the second quarter sent the Grizzlies to their locker room with a 20-7 halftime advantage.
The game's final score came in the third period, when Ladiges took an option pitch from quarterback Connor Warner and scored from 40 yards.
"Offensively, Jensen carried us," Grizzlies Coach Dan Smith said. "When he hits the corner, he's gone."
Defensive standouts for Henkle included outside linebackers Ladiges and Beattie, and defensive ends Ben Ward and Alex Herschbach. "Those guys did an excellent job of containing Ridgefield's running backs," Smith said.
View Ridge 7th 19, Henkle 7th 14 --
Ryan Combelic and Stephen Sams rushed for touchdowns for the Grizzlies in their official season-opener.
Combelic, the team's quarterback, scored on an 80-yard naked bootleg in the second quarter that pulled Henkle within 7-6.
Sams found the end zone late in the fourth with a short run up the middle and Combelic completed the pass-for-conversion to Felix Torres to narrow the gap to 19-14.
The Grizzlies attempted an onside kick on the ensuing kickoff but the Rebels recovered.
However, Henkle nose guard Christian Contreras forced and fell on a fumble at View Ridge's 40-yard line with 25 seconds remaining to give the Grizzlies a chance to come from behind for the victory.
"We were able to run one play and got down to about their 15 before getting tackled as time ran out," Smith said. "We were definitely in it to the end."
Added Smith: "Both teams looked real solid against Ridgefield. That was kind of our lithmus test to this point."
The Grizzlies host the Wind River Royals Thursday afternoon at CHS Stadium. Seventh-grade teams kick off the twinbill at 4 p.m., to be followed by the matchup between eighth-graders.