No. 8 Ridgefield gets ‘monkey off the back’ in 35-0 statement win over No. 7 Hockinson: 5 observations

HOCKINSON, Wash. — Ridgefield coach Scott Rice wouldn’t go as far as calling it flawless, but the he did concede the significance behind the Spudders’ program-affirming 35-0 win over Southwest Washington powerhouse Hockinson on Friday night.

His admission came in the form of a deep sigh of relief, broken up by hugs of joy from his wife and two sons in the moments after the final horn.

“We talked about it last night,” Scott Rice said. “Gotta get the monkey off the back at some point, right? Puts us on the track we want to be on, in the driver’s seat where we want to be.”

It was Ridgefield’s first win over the Hawks since 2012. Hockinson has won the last seven 2A Greater St. Helens League titles.

As far as rivalries go, the Week 3 showdown had all the ingredients of a tide-shifting barn-burner entering the game. What unfolded was more of a drubbing.

MORE: Photo gallery | Game highlights | Ty Snider interview

Let’s examine: No. 7 Hockinson (0-1), winners back-to-back 2A state titles in 2017 and 2018, had the chance to affirm its grip on the league. Visiting No. 8 Ridgefield (2-0), a program on a years-long upswing, was hellbent on taking its place at the top.

In between the opening kick and the Spudders’ raucous celebration that started on the field and ended in front of its rowdy, overflowing student section after the final horn, there were game-changing interceptions, strong two-way performances and a solid night from Spudders sophomore quarterback Brayden Malella.

“We were so hungry for this game this week,” Ridgefield (3-0, 1-0 2A GSHL) receiver Ty Snider said.

Here are 5 observations:

Last matchup left plenty of room to ask ‘what if?’ This time, the Spudders didn’t leave a shred of doubt.

Ridgefield couldn’t stop thinking about its 14-7 loss to Hockinson in the spring, which put the Hawks in the driver’s seat to win its seventh straight league title — the pinnacle achievement in the playoff-less shortened season. 

Especially considering how close it was. The Spudders came up short on three potentially game-tying (or winning) red zone trips in the second half. 

Snider felt like the last matchup, which the team poured over in film throughout the week, served as a motivator.

“Last year, not going to lie, there were some guys going into the game, we weren’t sure how we were going to do,” Snider said.

That’s why Ridgefield turned its intensity up after each touchdown. Snider watched his team’s confidence build in lock step with the lead.

“It shows the growth that Ridgefield football has had,” Snider said. “Hockinson obviously is the powerhouse, and we’re not scared of them anymore.”

Added Rice: “To take a team that’s been our kryptonite for a long time, and others too, and just say ‘next guy up, let’s go.’ That was stellar tonight. To hold them to zero points, that was great.”

Spudders established the lead by forcing key first half turnovers

Ridgefield’s lead was built almost entirely on the back of its defense.

It started with an interception by Ryan Hooghkirk on the first possession of the game on a tipped pass that put the Spudders inside the Hawks’ 20-yard line and set up the game’s opening touchdown, a 15-yard pass from Malella to Snider.

Then came Carson Knight’s interception later in the first, which allowed senior running back Davis Pankow to scamper in from 10 yards to go up two touchdowns. 

And finally it was Ryan Jenkins’ block on a punt that set the Spudders up for the third touchdown — a 10-yard pass from Malella to senior Jakob Braunstein — to push the lead to 21-0 in the second quarter. 

“We talked all week, every time the ball’s in the air, it’s our ball, and every time we get a chance, we’ve got to go take it away,” Rice said. 

Added Hockinson coach Luke LeCount: “Early in that first half, anything that could go wrong, seemed to go wrong. And we need to be better about putting that behind us and moving forward.”

Ridgefield, Hockinson each have a special, game-altering playmaker. Which prevailed?

Hockinson senior Andre Northrup can turn a game on a moment’s notice. 

In his breakout season in the spring, he was the team’s top receiving target, and logged momentum-shifting plays on defense and special teams, like when he took a kickoff 100 yards for touchdown, then scored on a pick-six on the following drive against Woodland.

Problem is, Ridgefield has a guy in Ty Snider who also demands a defensive coordinators attention to stop.

Snider’s 50-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter pushed Ridgefield’s lead to 28-0.

“I saw the guy coming … I tried to make a move, and it was a natural reaction to try to put my hand out and stiff-arm the corner,” Snider said. “Once I saw the end zone I just zoned in on the pile-on, and tunnel vision for that.”

Northrup was largely bottled up. He finished with 51 yards rushing on six carries, four receptions for 34 yards and three completions on nine pass attempts for 18 yards.

Hockinson still searching for its offensive spark

What happened to Hockinson on Friday has not happened in more than a decade. 

Not since 2010 had the Hawks been held without a point. That year was also the last the program started the season 0-2. 

It may be hard to fathom that the same program that made its 2017 and 2018 2A state title runs on the back of record-setting offenses under OC Josh Racanelli was held without a point. 

Oldham struggled, throwing for 132 yards and three interceptions on 18 of 33 attempts completed. Running back Cody Wheeler struggled to get going, rushing three times for 10 yards.

Most of the team’s offensive productivity came from Northrup. 

Don’t let this early season drubbing fool you. Its last 0-2 start was followed up by a 2-8 season. Hockinson (1-1, 0-1 2A GSHL) is determined to not let its two opening losses — both to Top 10 opponents — define the team.

“We’ve got to push the past behind us and start fresh,” LeCount said.

Sophomore QB Brayden Malella ‘cold as ice’ in first big-game test

It was arguably the Spudders’ biggest question mark entering the season: how would the team replace trustee departed senior Luke Price under center?

The answer? By committee.

The Spudders have run a bit of a platoon under center with sophomore quarterbacks Logan DeBeaumont and Brayden Malella in wins over 3A Heritage (45-0) and 1A Castle Rock (35-12).

On Friday night it was Malella who got the start and delivered in what serves as a program-defining win. Listed at 5-foot-6, 125 pounds, Malella completed 17 of 32 pass attempts for 252 yards, four touchdowns and an interception.

“Cold as ice,” Rice said. “Cool as a cucumber, man. He came out, made some really good decisions. Quarterback, especially as a sophomore, you want to take care of the ball and he’s done a great job through three weeks.”

Rice said the competition is still active and DeBeaumont, who entered the game late, will have more chances to compete for snaps.

Game highlights


Photo gallery
Ty Snider postgame interview
Game highlights

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