It’s safe to say Justin DeRosier was honored properly.
At a ceremony featuring both teams lined up on the track at Schroeder Field, the family of the late sheriff’s deputy was introduced and presented with a No. 73 jersey that DeRosier wore years ago. Then Kelso put it to the R.A. Long Lumberjacks to the tune of 62-0.
“A good night for our people,” Kelso coach Steve Amrine said. “This is way bigger than us. This was about a Kelso family, a Kelso community that — Friday nights are still pretty important here, and they were when the young man was here. I was pretty happy with how focused and how our kids came out. They came out with some fire and some go get ’em.”
“We knew coming into this that the game was bigger than we knew,” Conner Noah said. “So we just came out the first quarter and played our hearts out.”
It was the 28th time the Hilanders (2-0) shut out the Jacks (1-1) and the second straight week the Scotties held an opponent scoreless. The 62-point spread was the largest of the series in Kelso’s favor, shattering the previous record of 50-0 in 1992.
Then there are the stats.
Josh Webb carried just five times Friday night, but all five ended in touchdowns. He finished with 99 total yards and five scores and only played part of the first half.
Conner Noah, the outstanding Kelso freshman, rushed for 134 yards on just three carries with a score. His numbers were buoyed by a 78-yard scamper in the second quarter. Noah also ran back an interception 45 yards for a touchdown, one of the five times Kelso picked off RAL quarterback Julian Machic-Sheldon.
Marshall Coleman started for the Hilanders but didn’t play much. He services weren’t really needed. He still checked in with a 3-yard touchdown pass to Jaden Kay in the first quarter.
“Pretty explosive first quarter,” Amrine said.
But the numbers pale in comparison to the real point of the night, and that would be DeRosier.
Kelso wore black uniforms to mark the occasion. Television camera crews set up to capture the pre-game ceremony. Kelso and RAL coaches alike wore shirts commemorating the night and honoring the memory of someone taken too soon.
“This was in honor of Justin,” Amrine said. “Our kids handled it well.”
After a shifty kickoff return from Webb got the Hilanders their own 40, Kelso flinched before the snap, yielded five yards, then Coleman missed Nick Miller with the first pass of the night.
The inauspicious offensive start didn’t last. At all.
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Webb took the handoff on 2nd and 15 and got to the secondary untouched, made the safety miss then sprinted up the middle of the turf for a 65-yard touchdown.
The scoreboard read just 7-0. But the rout was on.
Dillon Davis then picked off Machic-Sheldon for the first time at the RAL 20 and returned it to the 3, where Coleman rolled out and calmly flicked to Jaden Kay for an easy score. Then Noah recovered a pooch kick at the RAL 30 and, after the freshmen raced 29 yards to the 1, Webb did the rest, easily crossing for a 1-yard score.
In the three minutes of game time, Kelso scored three touchdowns and R.A. Long had minus-14 yards of offense and a turnover.
The rout was on.
Webb added his third touchdown of the night after Colby Cooper picked off Machic-Sheldon and got down to the RAL six, setting up the Webb score on the next snap.
R.A. Long didn’t gain a yard until its fourth possession, already down 34-0. It was a little 3-yard scramble from Machic-Sheldon with about four minutes left on the clock in the first quarter. However, two plays later, Noah picked off the Lumberjack sophomore and raced up the Kelso sideline for a 45-yard return score.
“Playing a team like this and getting smacked in the face, like we always say, really gives us a real look at, ‘Hey, there are teams like this. There are great teams out there,’” RAL coach Dave McDaniel said. “You gotta fight through it.”
Kelso kept scoring in the first half, with Webb adding an 18-yard scamper after a turnover on downs deep in the RAL end, then Hunter Leteer found Davis for a 16-yard touchdown after Braden Smith picked off his third pass of the early season.
The very next possession, Cooper nabbed his second interception, and Noah scored the next play, outrunning everyone for the 78-yard TD.
“In practice we really work on reading the quarterback,” Noah said.
R.A. Long has to turn around quickly and host defending 2A state champion Hockinson, who had a 28-game winning streak snapped against Archbishop Murphy on Friday night.
Kelso, meanwhile, gets a resurgent Heritage team that’s 2-0 after edging Hudson’s Bay 8-0 on Friday.
“I think Friday night will be a good gauge,” Amrine said. “I think we’re now ready to go (south). We do need to see that.”