By Ray Hamill — The Eureka Loggers turned in a near perfect first-half performance at Albee Stadium on Friday night, on the way to a comprehensive 62-14 win over Foothill.
The win was the fourth straight for Eureka to start the season, all of them by at least three touchdowns, and the Loggers appear to be growing stronger each week, outscoring their past two opponents by a score of 104-14.
The four teams they have dominated this year are a combined 8-2 against other teams.
“You know, with that performance, we’ve played really well the past 10 quarters,” said Eureka head coach Jason White, whose team has been clinical ever since a messy first half at home to Ukiah two weeks ago.
There was certainly little to complain about with Friday’s first-half performance, or the second half for that matter, with the Loggers dominating in all phases of the game, easily driving against the visitors and putting up touchdowns on seven of their eight first-half possessions.
The only blemish was a fumble on a punt return in the first quarter, but even that led to little for the Cougars, who coughed up possession again eight snaps later on what was one of the highlight plays of the night.
A little bit of Meynell magic
On a third-and-four at the Eureka 36-yard line, Cougars quarterback Jayden Gordon was brought to the ground by Alex Miller, who forced a fumble that was recovered by Eureka lineman Miles Meynell, who then took it 55 yards to the one-yard line before he was tackled from behind.
On the next play, Miller found the end zone for a 28-0 Eureka lead.
The four first-quarter TDs were followed by three more in the second quarter and the home team led 49-7 at halftime.
If anything, the second half was even more impressive, if for no other reason than it showcased the depth in talent the Loggers have at their disposal.
White has talked of having a deeper receiving corps than anytime he can remember, but the quality of that depth was on display on Friday night, with no let up from the Loggers’ back-ups after the interval, as they continued to drive the ball effectively.
Trevor Bell took over from starter Cruz Montana at quarterback and was every bit as effective.
“That kid is just a really good player,” White said of the junior Bell. “He’s just playing behind a guy who’s playing lights out right now.”
Montana continues to look composed under center, with a fourth straight game without throwing an interception.
The senior has been outstanding all season, completing 13-of-18 passes for 163 yards and a touchdown on Friday.
His stats would have been even better but for a handful of dropped passes by some open receivers.
Bell was just as effective, completing 9-of-12 passes for 88 yards and a TD.
Unstoppable ground game
But if the passing game was good, the ground attack was simply unstoppable, with three different players accounting for six rushing touchdowns, including on five straight offensive possessions to start the game.
Ryan Sylvia, who is also enjoying a stellar season on both sides of the ball, ran in for three touchdowns, from 20 yards, 10 yards and two yards out.
The senior had just four carries all night for 37 yards, but he made them count.
Weir added short TD runs in each of the first two quarters, while Josiah Graham and Tony Barreno each had second-quarter TD catches, the former from nine yards out and the later from 18.
Barreno now has three TDs in the past two games.
Isley Tulmau didn’t find the end zone but had a good night receiving with six catches for 56 yards, while Lamarie Dunn had a big night with 89 yards total offense.
Graham added four catches for 39 yards, and along with Tulmau has become one of Montana’s most reliable targets this season.
Just as impressively, the kicking game was perfect, making good on all eight PAT attempts as well as two Barreno second-half field goals from 36 and 32 yards out.
Defensively, the Loggers had several standouts, with Miller, Weir and Tyce Mullins all coming away with interceptions.
The Loggers now have 12 interceptions on the season.
Meynell’s fumble recovery gave the Loggers four takeaways for the game.
“That just continues,” White said of his team’s big-play takeaway capabilities. “And we were physical.”
The depth of the squad was just as noticeable.
“A lot of our back-up kids played really well in the second half,” the head coach said. “And that’s the most satisfying thing.
“We’ve just got to try to keep getting better.”
Next week, the Loggers will travel to play Shasta (1-1), which is coming off a 46-7 loss to Elk Grove on Friday night.