Sometimes a lit fuse is slow to ignite an explosion.
But when the Central Valley Bears finally sparked on Friday night, the result was a 41-14 Greater Spokane League football victory over visiting Rogers.
“We hadn’t hit on all cylinders yet this season,” Bears coach Rick Giampietri said.
Not in their 24-7 loss last week to Ferris (2-0), and not in the first half on Friday night against Rogers (0-2) – which took a 14-13 lead midway through the third quarter when Nick Kaley caught a 9-yard pass from quarterback Dominic Sanders.
That wasn’t acceptable for Grayson Sykes or the Bears (1-1).
Sykes finished with three touchdowns to lead the Bears, including an 80-yard kickoff return in the second quarter.
He carried the ball 15 times for 63 yards, and his last two touchdowns – one with the help of Scott Hilpert’s run deep into Rogers’ zone to set up a 6-yard TD run for Sykes on the next down – were both in the fourth quarter and gave CV a 34-14 lead.
“He plays both ways for us, so I usually shuttle him and (Brandon) McClung,” Giampietri said. “But McClung got cramps and we couldn’t shuttle him anymore, so Grayson sucked it up and played really well.”
He wasn’t the only one.
The Bears’ timing got smoother as the game went on and Giampietri said they were hitting harder this week.
His linemen also buckled down and snuffed any flicker of hope for the Pirates, who nearly took a lead late in the first half, but were stopped on four straight downs on CV’s 1-yard line.
“The offensive line started coming off the ball better and dominating a little bit more and that really was the difference-maker,” the Bears’ coach said. “And that defensive stand down in the first half was just huge.”
There were huge moments for Rogers, too – more specifically for the Pirates’ star running back – Luke Rogers.
Rogers collected 246 rushing yards on 33 carries, breaking the school’s career rushing record of 2,567 yards, previously held by Mike Dorton (1996-97). Rogers needed 175 yards coming into the game.
“The kid is phenomenal,” said Rogers coach Matt Miethe. “He’s the toughest kid I’ve ever coached by far. And he likes records – he does – but it’s not what he’s doing out here. He doesn’t want to get tackled. It’s a mano-y-mano thing. It’s, ‘I’m not letting anybody take me down.’ It’s a fight.
“Everytime he gets the ball, he’s trying to fight 11 people. That’s just what he does. And he wins seven or eight of those fights every down before somebody gets him. He plays with fire.
“Our guys played hard and played with a lot of heart, but we get tired of that kind of stuff – playing for pride and such,” Miethe said. “After losing for so many years, we want to win games and this was a step in the right direction.
“I think we go out next week and win a game up at (North Central).”