PHIL HAWKINS - North Marion's Grant Henry successfully defends a touchdown pass intended for Molalla receiver Jeff Larsen in the Huskies' 43-0 loss to the Indians on Friday.
Sometimes you win by 40-plus, sometimes you lose by 40-plus.
A week after opening the season with a 44-point victory, the North Marion Huskies were on the losing side of a blowout, dropping the team’s home opener against Molalla by a 43-0 margin on Friday, Sept. 9.
It was a tough way to get the season started at North Marion High School, which is currently scheduled to host just three home games following the announcement that the Philomath football team cancelled its varsity season following a summer hazing incident.
“You gotta flush it away and move on,” North Marion head coach Doug Bilodeau said. “You can’t hold onto it.”
The Huskies were done in by Molalla’s strong passing game, which opened up the field and allowed the Indians to pound the ball inside just well enough to extend drives and punch in short-yardage touchdowns.
The Indians’ junior quarterback Chase Jazdinski connected on 16-of-22 passes for 247 yards and two touchdowns, spreading the ball around to a stable of targets that was led by sophomore Jeff Larsen, who caught seven passes for 69 yards
It was a stark contrast compared to Molalla’s 27-15 over Putnam the previous week, according to Bilodeau.
“Molalla didn’t air it out last week, they ran the ball most of the time; they barely threw it,” he said.
That was true against the Huskies as well, despite the Indians’ aerial success. Molalla ran the ball 47 for 127 yards against North Marion, which did an admirable job defending the ground game by holding the Indians to just 2.7 yards per carry.
But nearly every time the Huskies got in position to stop a Molalla drive, Jazdinski would connect on a third down pass, or North Marion would jump the ball before the play, getting flagged for eight encroachment penalties on the night.
“That’s the problem with our defense, they’re so darn aggressive and listening to cadence fluctuations,” Bilodeau said. “Coach (Keith) Bennett will do a good job. He’ll come back and get them dialed in.”
After North Marion opened the game going three-and-out on their first drive, the Indians marched down the field and punched it in on a goal line carry by senior running back Mont Child to go up 7-0. The Huskies gave up the ball on next drive on an interception thrown by Hunter Martin to Gavin
Thrower to give the Indians the ball near midfield.
The two teams traded drives before the Indians came up with another short-yardage touchdown early in the second quarter, this time by senior running back Kevin Trujilio. Molalla recovered the ensuing kickoff and converted it into another touchdown by Child to make it 21-0, and the game just continued to snowball from there for North Marion.
“For some reason we came out and played flat footed on both sides of the ball,” Bilodeau said. “So we’ve got to figure out what’s wrong there and fix it. They got down a little bit and the wheels started to unravel.”
For their part, North Marion was effective in spurts on offense, behind the running back committee of Ammon Suchanski, Sam Garcia and Boston Snyder. The trio split carries equally, gaining 101 yards on 17 carries.
As Molalla gradually pulled away, the Huskies were forced to air the ball out more, and couldn’t find much success. Martin completed just five passes on the evening, four of which were dump offs to Suchanski and Garcia. The senior signal-caller looked for starting receivers Bryce Lemon and Tanner Scanlan often, but couldn’t connect with them downfield and finished with just one completion to Scanlan compared with three interceptions.
After going down 29-0 into the half, the Huskies continued to struggle in the third quarter, giving up a pair of early touchdowns to bring the game to its final 43-point margin with five minutes left in the third.
The Huskies finished the game with 147 yards of offense, led by 44 yards on the ground by Snyder and 52 combined rushing and receiving yards by Garcia. Suchanski had 41 all-purpose yards, and Martin finished with five completions for 53 yards.
The Indians put up 374 yards in the win, led by Jazdinski, and Larsen, who had 102 all-purpose yards and a touchdown. Braden Hibbs led the team with 81 receiving yards on three catches.
Molalla (2-0) takes its unbeaten record back home next week against perennial 4A powerhouse
Banks (2-0), which blew out Stayton 62-16 on Friday.
North Marion (1-1) stays at home next week, hosting former Tri-Valley rival Gladstone (0-2), which is coming off of a 49-42 loss to Astoria.
“We’ve just got to move on,” Bilodeau said. “Next week is a new week, we’ve got another challenge.”
Picture and story by Phil Hawkins, Woodburn Independent. STORY LINK