Seeing the Panthers decked out in their new orange and black uniforms let everybody at Fishback Stadium know football is back in Washougal.
“It was great seeing that many people excited for the first football game of the season,” said head coach Dave Hajek. “It was a great opportunity for us to see where we’re at compared to where we want to be. There are a lot of things to clean up. If we do, I think we’re going to be a good squad.”
The Panthers sent their fans home howling after a 29-0 victory against Stevenson Friday. Daniel Davis, Kyle Hoesly and DeAundre Summers scored touchdowns. Marcos Martinez tackled a Bulldog in the end zone for a safety. Doneald Holbert Jr. had a fumble recovery and an interception return for a touchdown.
“Overall, it was just awesome. Our team comes together like no other on that field,” Hoesly said. “We brought the attack from the get go. We had some mistakes, but we’re going to fix them in practice. Other than that, it was a great game.”
Washougal stripped the ball away from Stevenson during the opening drive, and Holbert came up with it. Hoesly made two catches on third down to move the chains, before the Panthers threw an interception. Washougal stuffed the Bulldogs on four straight plays to get the ball back at midfield. Hoesly carried the ball to a first down and close to another one. Davis then eluded the defenders and dove across the goal line on a 21-yard touchdown run.
Tyler Bowlin intercepted a pass to give the Panthers the ball as the first quarter came to close. Washougal marched into scoring position, but fumbled the ball away near the goal line. Martinez brought a Stevenson receiver down in his own end zone for two more points.
The Bulldogs kicked off to the Panthers again following the safety. Hoesly then broke loose for a 52-yard touchdown run to give Washougal a 16-0 lead.
“I couldn’t have done it without my blockers,” Hoesly said. “Just follow them until I see daylight, and then take off.”
It didn’t take Holbert long to increase the lead to 22-0. He picked off the hot potato in open space and took it all the way home for 35 yards and the touchdown.
“It felt good to help the team out,” Holbert said. “I wouldn’t be in those situations without them.”
Stevenson took one last shot at the end zone before halftime, but the pass was intercepted by Davis. Washougal also blocked a field goal attempt by the Bulldogs in the third quarter. Summers caught a 5-yard touchdown pass from Bowlin in the fourth quarter to round out the scoring in the game.
The Panthers racked up 277 rushing yards. Hoesly led the way with 103 of those yards. Kade Coons added 95 yards rushing and Davis delivered 45.
“We need to come back to practice ready to work harder and fix our mistakes. We can’t get cocky. It’s just the first game,” Holbert said. “Be humble. Come out aggressive and ready to play at any moment.”
Hajek said the Panthers need to work on holding on to the ball, snapping and conditioning.
“As a young team, it’s great to see these kids develop,” he said. “Junior Holbert had a great game tonight, but he didn’t play a lot last year. It’s great to see him come a long ways as an athlete. I could say that about a lot of our kids.”
Washougal heads to White Salmon to play Columbia High School Friday. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.
“I know our ‘Pit Crew’ is coming. It’s going to be the same thing,” Hoesly said. “We want to send our fans home happy.”