Theron Taylor had the honor of making Deer Park’s first big defensive play of the season.
He barely had time to think about it before he scored the Stags’ first touchdown of the season, on their first offensive play.
The junior running back/defensive back had two of DP’s four rushing TDs and one of the team’s three interceptions during a 31-7 nonleague win Friday over visiting Chewelah in an opener for both neighboring schools.
Taylor intercepted Chewelah senior quarterback McKenzie Miller on the third play of the game (not counting penalties). He returned the ball to the Cougars 5-yard line and took the ensuing handoff into the end zone for a 7-0 lead less than 2 minutes into the game.
“That was the dream opening, the first few plays there,” Taylor said. “I wasn’t expecting an interception at all.”
Chewelah finished with five turnovers and never got its offense going. The Stags outgained the Cougars 216-80 on the ground and held Miller and backup QB Blake Owens to 6-of-18 passing.
The game was tied at 7 until late in the first half, when Stags junior QB Nic Clough capped a 15-play, 65-yard drive with a 1-yard TD on a fourth-down keeper. A poor Chewelah punt allowed DP to tack on Charlie Robbins’ 32-yard field goal with 1 second left in the half for a 17-7 lead.
DP’s offense wore down the Cougars in the third quarter with Dakota Spindler’s 32-yard TD run and Taylor’s 4-yard TD after he spun off a pile.
“We have a pretty good stable of tailbacks back there that run hard,” Stags 10th-year coach Keith Stamps said. “We have three new starters on the offensive line and we thought we’d be able to run the ball eventually. I was hoping we’d do it earlier in the game, but in the third quarter they kind of took the game over.”
“We didn’t pass much tonight, so all 31 points basically came from the run game,” Taylor said.
Clough finished just 2 of 7 for 16 yards.
Spindler had a game-high 84 yards on seven carries, including a 41-yard run to open the second half that set up his TD.
Taylor added 62 yards on 14 carries.
“This one is up on the charts pretty high,” said Taylor, who said his favorite game until Friday was last year against Pullman.
Cougars QBs Owens and Miller combined for 27 rushes for 72 yards. Miller’s 2-yard TD run early in the second quarter capped a 10-play, 64-yard drive.
Both teams finished with 12 first downs in a game marred by penalties from the start. The first two plays of the game drew whistles, and the teams combined for 16 penalties.
The Stags had 10 penalties for 92 yards.
“I thought our effort was tremendous,” Stamps said. “We picked up a couple of sloppy penalties and those are things we have to correct. In a close football game, that can cost you a game. … We’ll fix it this week.”
The Stags will travel to Riverside next week before returning home to host St. Maries (Idaho).
Stamps said DP and Chewelah have opened the season for six consecutive years.
“It’s two towns that are really similar and the kids compete well against each other,” he said. … “It’s a pretty good relationship between the two schools.”