For the week of October 14 thru October 20, 1998  

One touchdown is enough for Wood River

Great defense creates 7-0 Wolverine shutout at Filer

Field position, defense and a timely third-quarter touchdown were the ingredients used by the Wood River High School varsity football team (2-4, 2-1 league) to beat the Filer Wildcats 7-0 Friday, in Filer.

It was the first shutout by a Wood River team in seven years. The Wolverines limited Filer (1-5, 0-3 league) to just 120 total yards, and negative rushing yardage after halftime.

Wood River’s defense held Filer scoreless in the first half, when the Wildcats had great field position. The Wolverine defense picked it up a notch in the second half and throttled Filer—holding the Wildcats without a single first down.

Coach John Blackman gave plenty of credit to his defensive tackles, seniors Rhett Webber and Tyler Palmer. They made 6 tackles apiece. Each had a quarterback sack. In addition, the penetration of 6-4 Webber threw two Filer runners for 15 yards in losses after halftime.

"Rhett and Tyler had a good second half. In our 4-3 defense, we moved our tackles out a little in the second quarter. At halftime we explained to them why we were doing it. What happened was we shut down Filer’s outside running game in the second half," he said.

It was Wood River’s offense that enjoyed terrific field position in the second half. Leading the way was sophomore punt returner Max Paisley, who aggressively returned 4 punts for 49 yards in the second half. Senior Ted Larsen recovered a fumble. Soph Cory Goicoechea intercepted a pass.

The visitors finally capitalized when a 23-yard Paisley punt return positioned Wood River at the Filer 14-yard-line, and senior QB Nic Long hit senior wide receiver Keaton Sturges with a 13-yard TD pass on 3rd down-and-9. Sturges caught the ball at the 5-yard-line, cut back in and lunged over the goal line.

Blackman said, "It was an 8-yard comeback pass. We were basically trying to run Filer off deep. The throws were there all night. Filer was playing a 4-5-2, so they had nine guys inside the box—just daring us to throw. Some throws we made were just overthrown."

There were three long drives in a inartistic defensive struggle that featured 14 punts and 32 incomplete passes. Two came in the first half.

In the first quarter, the first of 3 interceptions by Filer’s A.J. Tackett started a 12-play, 63-yard Wildcat drive that started from the Filer 9 and got all the way to the Wolverine 18. There, Webber sacked QB Tackett for a 10-yard-loss on third down, and Nic Thomas knocked down a fourth-down pass in the end zone.

Wood River pushed 38 yards on 8 plays in the second quarter, reaching the Filer 10-yard-line, the big play a 23-yard post pass from Long to Paisley. Although the first half was scoreless, Filer was pumped up because of its favorable field position. That quickly changed.

Blackman said, "We told the kids at halftime, hey, it’s a 0-0 game, but Filer thinks they’re winning the football game—probably because we spent most of the first half on our side of the 50. We told them, it’s up to you to take over the game.

"The kids never let up and didn’t get their heads down. We got the ball in close a couple of times. It was huge when we scored the touchdown in the third quarter."

Wood River, which had the ball 16 of 24 minutes in the second half, ate up seven minutes with a 13-play, fourth-quarter drive preserving the 7-0 lead.

Junior fullback Todd Christiansen (a team-leading 57 rushing yards game, 306 yards season) came back into the game after suffering a leg cramp and rushed 7 times for 20 yards on the time-consuming drive. Long threw a 17-yard buttonhook pass to Kenny Nelson on 3rd-and-13. Filer finally got the ball back, on its own 5-yard-line with 2:00 to play.

WOLVERINE NOTES—Nic Thomas made a nice one-handed interception of a tipped pass in the first quarter….Wood River, which has lost only 8 fumbles all season, didn’t lose a fumble at Filer thanks in large part to Ted Larsen, who recovered 2 of his own team’s fumbles and 2 of Filer’s….Before his TD pass, QB Nic Long showed his toughness by running right on first down—and getting gang-tackled out-of-bounds, and running left on second down. He took two hard hits but got up and threw the game-winning pass, on the money….

Wood River’s last shutout was 6-0 over North Fremont in Ashton Oct. 11, 1991. Since, the Wolverines have been shutout themselves 17 times….With two home games remaining, the Wolverine win guaranteed this year’s squad a plus-.500 regular-season road record, at 2-1. The last time a Wood River team ended with a positive road record was 1989 (3-2), which happened to be Wood River’s last winning season (5-4) that included three shutouts over Wendell, Kimberly and Payette.

Recordwise, Wood River is looking like Chris Malmgren’s 1995 squad that finished 3-6 and lost to Sugar-Salem in Hailey’s only state playoff appearance. That team scored 10.1 points per game and allowed 27.9 ppg. This year’s team is scoring 10.7 ppg and allowing 25.9 ppg. That’s about a point better on offense compared to last year, but 16 points better on defense each game.

Wood River’s has a balanced offense—573 yards rushing, 581 yards passing and 672 yards returns…..Long (55) and Christiansen (50) are the leading tacklers.


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