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Football: Kalama dominates Woodland in 8-Mile opener
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Football: Kalama dominates Woodland in 8-Mile opener

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WOODLAND — The 8-Mile War turned out to be a rather one-sided route early Friday, as Kalama announced the beginning of its Fall 2021 campaign in a loud way, beating Woodland 57-20 in a game that got out of hand fast.

“We’ve been mentally prepared, and we’ve been hungry,” Kalama quarterback Jackson Esary said. “We didn’t get a full season last year, we haven’t played Woodland in two years, our 8-Mile rival. We were ready to play, we were ready to step on the field. It’s been months, and there wasn’t anything that was going to stop us.”

The Chinooks came nearly all guns ablazing, and while the Beavers were able to keep them off the board in their first possession, the visitors blasted out 32 points in the opening quarter to make their intentions well known.

Woodland, meanwhile, took its time to get going, and that was all Kalama needed to pounce. The Beavers fumbled away their first offensive play from scrimmage, and three plays later, Esary was hitting Jack Doerty down the left sideline for a touchdown. Woodland gave the ball right back with a fumble on the ensuing kickoff, and Esary punched it in himself from 11 yards out on the very next play to make it 16-0 just like that.

“Honestly, it was like we were in a state of shock,” Woodland coach Mike Woodward said. “They just came out and punched us in the mouth.”

Woodland finally got its new-look offense going to keep ahold of the football and march down the field for points of its own, but by the then, the machine that is the Kalama offense was full up and running, and it was already too late.

“We made some meaningful changes, looked at what the defense was giving us,” Kalama coach Sean McDoland said. “And then Jackson just took it into his hands.”

Esary did just that, linking up with Doerty twice more for touchdowns in the opening quarter, and the Chinooks kept rolling. The senior slot receiver finished with a team-high six catches for 85 yards and three scores — all coming in the first half.

“I’ve been playing with him since the first grade,” Esary said. “They were going one-on-one with him with a linebacker, and you can’t do that. I saw that one-on-one in the slot with the linebacker, and the corner route is going to be open every time.”

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The only other time Woodland managed to keep Kalama out of the end zone in the first half came on a fumble late in the second quarter. The Beavers took advantage to drive and score their second touchdown of the night, but Doerty struck right back all by himself, taking the ensuing kickoff to the house to push the lead to 44-15.

“We just could not get over the hump,” Woodward said. “Usually when you get jumped on like that you’ve got to respond, and at some point you’ll kind of feel the momentum switch a little bit. We just could not get over that hump to flip that momentum. Every time we’d do something good, we’d take two steps backwards.”

Esary only needed to throw one pass in the second half; fittingly, it was a 35-yard touchdown to Jaxxon Truesdell that capped off the Chinooks’ first drive of the third quarter with points, triggered the running clock, and ended the day for Kalama’s starters.

The senior quarterback finished his day with seven total touchdowns — five through the air and two more on the ground — to go along with 189 yards on 13-of-22 passing and 115 more yards on nine carries.

“He did well,” McDonald said. “Early on, the protections weren’t quite there, but once we settled in, he started chopping away underneath and he showed he could do that. That was awesome, and I think we’ll just build off of it.”

Cox was second among Kalama’s receivers with four catches for 48 yards; Truesdell, Nate Meyer, and Kaden Stariha all had a catch apiece.

Doerty added 21 yards on the ground to go along with his three receiving touchdowns, his special teams touchdown, and a whole lot of hard-nosed plays at outside linebacker.

“He did awesome,” McDonald said. “Hands down, that was probably the best performance I’ve seen out of him.”

For Woodland, Daymon Gressett ground out 109 tough yards on 21 carries. Drew Burns earned the start at quarterback and finished 8-of-28 for 98 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception. Brett Martynowicz came in in the third quarter went 5-for-7 for 32 yards and a pick. Justin Philpot caught both of the Beavers’ touchdown passes, racking up 57 yards on five receptions. Dalton Beassie had four catches of his own for 36 yards.

Kalama (1-0) is set to face its first 2B opponent of the season when it hosts Forks next Saturday. Woodland (0-1) will go to La Center next Friday.

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