After alternating wins and losses to start the season, the West High football team’s 22-0 shutout of Dimond on Friday night marked the first time the suddenly surging Eagles have won back-to-back games this season.
The win, which pushed West’s record to 3-2, also marked what was likely the team’s most complete game of the season.
“Both sides of the ball I think executed pretty well for the most part,” West coach Tim Davis said. “It was sloppy offensively and we gave up a little too much defensively in the beginning but both sides of the ball made adjustments.”
On a frigid night where swirling winds made throwing the ball downfield difficult for most of the game, both teams kept the ball on the ground. But only the home team managed to finish drives and find the end zone.
Dimond held the ball for nearly nine minutes on its first possession of the game only to have the drive stall out and result in a turnover on downs. West scored the first points of the game early in the second quarter on a 45-yard drive that was capped off by a 15-yard rushing touchdown from junior quarterback Po’okela Puaoi.
Puaoi opened the season as the starting slot receiver but was forced into playing quarterback four plays into their first game after senior starter Harrison Little went down with a foot injury.
“We’re a very young team and this is the first year we’re all playing together,” Puaoi said. “We were struggling the first few weeks putting the pieces together, last week we picked up the pieces that needed to be picked up and this week we picked up those pieces again.”
The Eagles had a couple chances to add on more points to their total just before halftime after the two teams traded interceptions two plays apart. But Puaoi fumbled the ball at the Lynx’s three-yard line with 26.5 second left in the quarter.
Despite the turnover, Davis said his quarterback is starting to make strides.
“He’s growing up before our eyes,” Davis said. “There’s a lot he can do to continue to improve. It’s just the tip of the iceberg right now.”
It didn’t take nearly as long for the first points of the second half to be scored as it did in the first. After a kickoff out of bounds set them up with advantageous field position, West found the end zone again in just two plays. The capper on the drive was a beastly 64-yard touchdown run from junior Mason Tanoa. He broke a pair of tackles and sprinted up the right sideline for the quick strike to put to put his team 14-0 after a successful point after attempt.
“You can’t stop six man,” said Tanoa, referring to his own No. 6 jersey for West. “He’ll run through you.”
Tanoa would go on to score the Eagles’ third touchdown and his second of the game on a wildcat quarterback power-play from one yard line early in the fourth quarter.
“He’s a football player and he loves it,” Davis said. “He’s a competitor, he’s fierce.”
After botched hold, West senior Toby Miller ran in a successful two-point conversion to increase the team’s lead to 22-0.
West’s running game was impressive, as it was responsible for all of the team’s points and racked up nearly 300 yards on the night. But the Eagles’ defense was just as overwhelming against Dimond’s offense. They made adjustments after allowing a long opening drive, came up with clutch stops in key situations, pressured Lynx quarterback Tyler Reece nearly every time he attempted a pass and intercepted two of his passes.
“Hats off to the scheme and hats off to the kids for adjusting and being flexible and listening to coaching instruction,” Davis said.