OKANOGAN The Okanogan football team racked up more than 350 yards rushing to earn a 43-7 win at home against rival Omak on Friday night in the Backyard Brawl.
Senior Justin Rivas and freshman Morgan Poulin paved the way for the Bulldogs with 2 touchdowns apiece, as Okanogan won its fourth consecutive Brawl.
Meanwhile, junior Tyler Morris was the Bulldogs’ workhorse, carrying the ball 14 times for 140 yards including a touchdown, while also completing a pass for 34 yards and catching a pass for 22 yards.
“You come into a game like this — it’s a rivalry game — so everybody’s jacked up and they played well,” Okanogan coach Erick Judd said. “I thought (Omak) fought hard all game and played together as a team.”
Despite nearly opposite records entering the game — Omak was still looking for its first win, while Okanogan had lost just once — the visiting Pioneers gave Okanogan all it could handle in the first half.
The Bulldogs led 13-0 at the break as Rivas and Arturo Ramos both ran for first-half touchdowns.
On one possession, Omak drove the ball all the way inside the Okanogan 6-yard line, before missing a field goal attempt.
“I thought we played real good in the first half,” Omak coach Nick Sackman said. “I thought we limited most of our mistakes, played pretty mistake-free football. We had our chances to score, but couldn’t quite punch one in. I was real proud of the way our kids played in the first half.”
Sackman said fatigue was evident as the game went along, “so we run low on fuel and energy,” without having enough athletes to rotate through the lineup.
“We just made some mistakes,” he said. “We had a few penalties that hurt us. They played hard. They played with a lot of integrity and pride and I’m proud of the way especially the seniors finished, their senior year.”
Behind a balanced running game, the Bulldogs raced out to a 33-0 lead by the time Omak finally got on the scoreboard midway through the fourth quarter.
The Pioneers’ lone score came when senior Bryson Morris hauled in a 60-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Joseph Parisien-Best.
Parisien-Best led Omak with 93 yards rushing on 13 carries, while completing 4 of 11 pass attempts for 95 yards.
“I thought our offensive line played pretty well,” Sackman said. “Joe Best made some great plays in the second half, ran around and really scrambled and kept plays alive for us. We made the one big pass play, which was awesome.”
For Okanogan, penalties proved to be a hindrance throughout the contest.
“I don’t know that we ever cleaned up the penalties,” Judd said. “We still had way too many penalties.”
Rivas drew the attention of the Pioneers’ defense all night, but he still finished the game with 106 yards on 14 carries.
He completed 2 of 6 passes for 32 yards.
Poulin added 92 yards on the ground.
“We have quite a few weapons that can run the ball,” Judd said. “We try to spread it around, not get too many hits on Rivas.”
Arnulfo Mercado was successful on 4 point-after-touchdown attempts and capped off Okanogan’s scoring with a 30-yard field goal. Morris and Jim Townsend both recovered fumbles for Okanogan.
Sackman was complimentary of the Okanogan squad.
“They’re a very good football team,” he said. “Their defense is very stout. They’ve got two great inside linebackers who make it tough to run it up the middle.”
After the game, Omak High School Principal David Kirk treated his Okanogan counterpart, Bob Shacklett, to a 100-yard victory lap in a wheelbarrow.
Okanogan will play Lakeside at home next week in a playoff game, with the winner earning the No. 3 seed to the state playoffs from District 6/7.
“They throw the ball quite a bit, so we’re really going to have to shore up our passing game,” Judd said. “And they have a quarterback who runs the ball (like Omak), so it’ll be a good challenge for us.”
Omak to fell to 0-9 on the season, but still leads the Backyard Brawl series 69-63.
Okanogan improved to 7-1 overall.