Toledo gave the No. 3 Class 2B team in the state a good scare Friday night.
Napavine ultimately pulled ahead with a late fourth-quarter touchdown and won 20-17 in the Indians’ nonleague loss at Ted Hippi Field. There was a win for Toledo, though, as coaches saw growth in the squad after a 12-7 defeat to Rainier, Wash., last week.
“We spent a lot of time last week talking about heart, sustaining blocks, and what it means to be a real football player,” coach Mike Christensen said. “I think we took steps as far as that goes. But also, guys are getting reps. We have so many guys with only two varsity games, now three, and we’re really starting to see them understand the game better.”
Toledo (1-2) battled adversity throughout the night and capitalized on every little thing it could, finishing with 65 rushing yards on 37 carries, forcing the Indians to throw. Quarterback Bryce Marcil discovered an early groove after rebounding from two incompletions, and found running back Ethan Buck in the middle of the field resulting in a 14-yard touchdown pass. His arm was on display after that, too, completing a 36-yard ball to running back Duke Schaplow and a deep pass down the right sideline to Fano Arceo-Hansen for 38 yards.
The latter completion preceded Toledo’s final score, a 1-yard scamper from Coleby Cherrington, which had Toledo firmly in control with a 17-6 advantage.
“That inability to throw the ball hurt us in the playoffs last year,” Christensen said. “He had two really bad throws and didn’t want to throw again. I looked at him and said ‘Bryce, you’re going to do great.’ And he did. As he builds that confidence I think he’s going to get even better.”
Marcil tallied 104 yards on 5-for-14 passing with one interception.
Napavine began to rally midway through the third quarter, and Tigers’ quarterback Dawson Stanley found receiver Ben Woodrum for a 50-yard touchdown late in the frame. With the Indians’ lead cut to 17-12, a series of short passes and long runs from Stanley culminated in a 2-yard touchdown run from shotgun and a two-point conversion run to the left side capped the game’s scoring.
“That post was just a needle,” Christensen said of Stanley’s long touchdown pass. “I feel like we did a decent job of containing him besides two plays: a 45-yard run to start the second half and the 50-yard touchdown pass on third-and-22.”
Buck finished with 45 rush yards on 16 carries, and Cherrington tallied 30 rush yards on eight carries.
Lineman Hunter Eaton played a standout game for the Indians on both sides of the ball; not one time was the senior moved off his spot along the offensive line, and he added three run stuffs and a sack along the defensive line. Eaton also worked as Toledo’s punter, creating difficult situations for Napavine, including a third-quarter punt which pinned the Tigers to their seven-yard line.
The result added to the confidence Eaton has in the Indians.
“It doesn’t matter how they’re ranked,” Eaton said. “What matters is how we come together and play as brothers. I don’t believe any team is the best in the state when we play Toledo Indians football.”