MOSSYROCK — The Wahkiakum Mules shifted their approach to play 8-man football against an undermanned Mossyrock squad on Friday night and after a few adjustments, the Mules took care of business and picked up a 28-24 win over the Vikings.
“We really just didn’t have a clue what the heck we were doing,” Wahkiakum coach Ryan Lorenzo said of the switch to 8-man. “We were calling plays and plays were getting blown up…it was a steep learning curve in the beginning.”
After a few adjustments, the Mules began to figure it out. Junior QB Brodie Avalon also continued to settle in during his first year under center as he found Jacob Johnson on a 49-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter to get the Mules on the board.
Then the new connection gave way to a tried-and-true formula for the Mules.
“We put the ball in Gabe Moon’s hands and stuck with what we know,” Lorenzo said.
Moon found the end zone late in the first for Wahkiakum on a 40-yard touchdown, but the Mules still trailed 16-14 through a quarter.
Defense took over in the second quarter and both teams held each other scoreless and the Vikings’ two-point lead held into the half.
After ironing out a few more things in the locker room, the Mules struck early in the third on another deep touchdown from Avalon to Moon from 49 yards out to give the Mules the lead, which they wouldn’t surrender.
Dominic Curl punched in a 3-yard touchdown in the fourth to extend the Wahkiakum lead to 28-16 and despite a late score from the Vikings, Wahkiakum held on for win.
Curl’s running may not have lit up the stat sheet like Moon’s, but his hard-nosed running helped Wahkiakum as he toted the rock seven times for 33 yards including a crucial first down run on a fourth-and-8.
“That kid is running the ball hard,” Lorenzo said. “We’ve wanted to utilize him more.”
Moon finished the night with 15 carries and 107 yards on the ground with a rushing TD. He also caught two passes for 54 yards and a receiving TD to lead the Mules as a dual threat.
Avalon settled into his starting role and finished 8-of-16 for 138 yards and two TDS.
Johnson was a defensive standout that had a “stellar night” according to Lorenzo and finished with seven total tackles compared to Moon’s team-high 11.
Lorenzo also mentioned Zakk Carlson as an impact player. Carlson filled in at guard for a player that was ruled out due to contact tracing and played a big role for the Mules.
“That was big for him to step up and try, especially in the Wing-T, where guys are moving left and right constantly,” Lorenzo said.
Wahkiakum (2-0) rejoins the 11-man ranks next week as they prepare to host Onalaska at 7 p.m., Friday, in Cathlamet.