CASTLE ROCK — Homecoming is always sweeter when you can tune out the distractions and pick up a win and that’s exactly what Castle Rock was able to do in a 42-6 thumping of 1A TriCo foe White Salmon on Friday.
The Rockets came out swinging on the opening drive as Chance Naugle connected with Lane Partridge on a 28-yard touchdown pass to give Castle Rock the start it was looking for.
“We had a game plan of getting the ball, driving down, punching it in and then defensively we got a stop,” Castle Rock coach Aaron Gehring said.
The Rockets then struggled a bit after that drive as the festivities may have led to a few mistakes.
“It was homecoming week, all the guys that were on court were all football guys, so there was a little bit of a distraction but we rebounded really well after we kind of got settled in after that first quarter,” Gehring said.
The Rockets got back on track in the second quarter as Naugle found the end zone on the ground for a 12-yard scoring run to extend the lead to 14.
Then, with Homecoming ceremonies looming late in the half, Castle Rock handed the ball to Adam Partridge, who scored from the 3 to give the Rockets a 21-0 lead at the half.
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Adam Partridge had been playing on the line on both sides of the ball this year after switching through multiple offensive positions last year.
“Just with him being a team player and wanting to do what was best for the team, he volunteered to work out on offensive line where he ended up earning a starting position,” Gehring said. “So that gave us a chance where we could put our best 11 on the field.”
But with Homecoming in mind, Gehring decided to give a hard-working player and member of the Homecoming court a taste of the end zone.
“We said ‘Hey, what do you think about first half, getting in and we add some run plays for you and try to get you a touchdown?’ And he was all for it,” Gehring said.
The score helped get the Rockets keep the momentum and cheer on one of their senior teammates.
“The players are all for the team and want everybody to have success,” Gehring said. “We spread the ball around and everybody is excited for one another on making big plays.”
Castle Rock fed off that momentum in the second half when Naugle connected with Lane Partridge on a 31-yard sweep pass early in the third.
After a touchdown from sophomore Stephen Ibsen capped the Rockets’ scoring in the third, fellow sophomore Corey McFadden notched his first career score on a 3-yard run in the fourth before the Bruins broke the shutout with three minutes left.
Naugle finished 9-for-19 passing for 145 yards and two scores. Chase Rusher led the Rockets’ ground game with seven carries for 94 yards, which Naugle followed with four carries for 50 yards and a score.
Ibsen and Lane Partridge were both standouts on the defensive side of the ball, with Partridge forcing a turnover on a strip sack.
Speaking of turnovers, the Rockets were able to keep the ball to themselves and finished without a giveaway for the first time this season.
“The big thing going into this is being able to handle the football and not turning it over, because we’ve had at least one fumble in every game, so just ball security is what we focused on,” Gehring said.
Castle Rock (3-2) is now back above .500 and will look to stay that way next week on the road at Seton Catholic.