Chance McDonald, stingy defense help Steilacoom hold off Enumclaw in 2021 season opener: 5 observations

BY CRAIG CRAKER

STEILACOOM — Nearly 400 days since they last played a football game, the Steilacoom Sentinels rode a strong defensive effort to a 14-7 victory Saturday against Enumclaw in a Class 2A SPSL game.

The low-scoring affair felt like a playoff game as the defending league champion Sentinels squared off with the former Class 4A Hornets.

“This game felt a lot like a quarterfinal or semifinal game,” Steilacoom coach Colby Davies said. “They are the type of team that would advance deep into the playoffs and so are we.”

Steilacoom wide receiver Logan Brady had 10 receptions for 171 yards and a touchdown, Tre Horner had seven catches for 120 yards and a touchdown and quarterback Chance McDonald was 22-for-37 for 328 yards and the two touchdowns in the win.

Royal Snyder had 13 carries for 65 yards and a touchdown to lead Enumclaw, while Ricky Bonthuis had 11 carries for 48 yards and a sack on defense.

Here are five takeaways from the game:

NO EGBUKA? NO PROBLEM

While star receiver Emeka Egbuka isn’t playing after enrolling early at Ohio State, the Sentinels showed Saturday that they have plenty of weapons to catch the ball.

Brady and Horner both put on shows, making several acrobatic catches on the sidelines and to get into the end zone.

“Since the day we got here, coach Davies has made it about the next-man-up mentality,” said Brady, who has committed to Central Washington. “We knew in the summer that Emeka might be making that step, so we’ve been working with Chance and Tre and even Emeka to get ready for this season.”

Brady caught a 28-yard pass for the game-winning touchdown in the third quarter, while Horton had a 5-yard receiving touchdown in the second quarter.

“We all realize we have to pick up the slack,” Horton said. “We know we can do it and we picked it up at the end and that is all that matters.”

STEILACOOM’S DEFENSE IS LEGIT

Facing a run-heavy attack by Enumclaw, the Sentinels held the former Class 4A school to under 200 yards of total offense.

The front-seven for the Sentinels was stout despite losing senior captain Lance Garcia to a knee injury. Steilacoom held Enumclaw to 135 yards on 36 carries and other than one drive was up for the challenge.

“We knew we were going to be great defensively, especially up front,” Davies said. “We feel really good about our defensive line. It’s got some studs on it. I think Sam Stowers is a Power-5 d-lineman for sure.”

BOTH TEAMS WERE RUSTY – AND IT SHOWED

Not playing for more than a year certainly had adverse effects for both teams.

Steilacoom was rung up with 10 penalties for 119 yards while Enumclaw had nine for 80 yards.

“We dropped a few balls today, made a few mistakes and had some stupid stuff after plays,” Davies said. “We’re not good enough to do that against a team like this that is very physical.”

While the Hornets also struggled, head coach Mark Gunderson was just happy to be out there and was pleased with his team’s performance.

“It felt so good. I’m so happy for these kids,” he said. “Just to get to do the game day procedures was fun today. You couldn’t have a better day.

“It was a great team effort. It wasn’t perfect, but the team that makes the least amount of mistakes normally wins and that was them today.”

ENUMCLAW’S DEFENSE SHOWS OUT

The Hornets played the bend-don’t-break defense perfectly Saturday, giving up 328 yards through the air but just two touchdowns.

Enumclaw held Steilacoom to just 22 yards rushing on 23 carries and stopped the Sentinels on fourth down twice in the first half. 

“Outside of a couple of self inflicted wounds, they are good,” Gunderson said. “We were doing some things we don’t normally do to try and counter their good players.”

Enumclaw’s Bonthuis and Cayman Gates each had a sack, while Drew Kuzaro had an interception and a fumble recovery.

DJ FRYAR, LANCE GARCIA INJURED

Steilacoom senior DJ Fryar, who was going to be a big part of the offense Saturday, had just one reception for eight yards after injuring his left shoulder.

He initially was hurt on offense after a hit near the sideline. He was then knocked out of the game after making a tackle from his free safety position.

“It didn’t seem like anything major, but who knows,” Davies said. “We’ll take a few days and let our trainer work with him and go from there.”

The Arizona signee had his left shoulder wrapped.

The Sentinels also lost Garcia, a captain and a linebacker to a knee injury in the early going. He missed all of last season with a torn ACL and his loss will test Steilacoom’s depth.

PHOTO GALLERY

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