Before the Tigers even took the field this season, Odessa High School coach Jeff Nelson already thought very highly of his team. He told The Spokesman-Review back in August that this Tigers team might be the fastest he’s ever had in his 28 years of coaching.
No. 1 Odessa’s 63-12 thrashing of No. 3 Almira-Coulee-Hartline in the Class 1B championship Saturday in the Tacoma Dome proved Nelson’s early read on his team was justified.
The Tigers (14-0) wrapped up their season with an undefeated record, and captured their first state title since 1993.
It was a quick start. Odessa jumped out to a dizzying 40-0 lead in the first quarter, breaking a 1B Gridiron Classic record for most points in a single quarter, last set by Bridgeport-Manson (38 points) in 1988.
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Running back Marcus King opened scoring less than two minutes into the contest with a 3-yard scoring run, and Odessa never trailed. King finished with a game-high 224 rushing yards on 19 carries and four touchdowns.
“Preparation, and the kids just wanted it,” Nelson said about his team’s quick lead. “I didn’t see that coming, to tell you the truth. We brought a lot of blitzes and stunts, and things we didn’t do the first time we played them. So, I think we kind of caught them off guard.”
And that was by design. The Tigers won their 1B Northeast League contest over the Warriors, 56-22, back in October. But, Nelson said he didn’t want to reveal too much then, so he scaled back some of the game plan.
Clearly, that strategy worked.
King added two more scoring runs in the first quarter of 8 and 38 yards. Running back Josh Clark, who finished with 69 yards and three touchdowns on 12 carries, and 73 yards on a pair of receptions, also pitched in two of his touchdowns of 10 and 3 yards in the historic first quarter.
“Our line did a great job blocking,” King said. “I mean, you could drive a truck through those holes. It was awesome.”
By rule, a running clock was triggered when Odessa’s lead reached 40 points. Clark scored once more in the second quarter, on an 11-yard run, but a 3-yard scamper by ACH’s Maguire Isaak — the reigning 1B state player of the year — ended the shoutout with 49 seconds left in the half. Odessa took a 48-6 lead into the break.
The Warriors (12-2) scored once more on a 21-yard pass from Isaak to Hayden Loomis — who had three catches for 67 yards — midway through the third, but that was it. Isaak finished 11 of 18 for 161 yards, an interception, and the two total touchdowns.
The Warriors were held to 161 yards of total offense by an Odessa team that was allowing just 7.2 points per game entering the contest.
Odessa, meanwhile, piled up 388 yards of total offense, capping scoring in the fourth quarter with a 5-yard run by King, and a 7-yard run by Drew Hardung.
A 5-yard run from King and a 7-yard run from freshman running back Drew Hardung finished off the scoring from the Tigers.
“Blocking, tackling and our speed,” Nelson said, listing off keys to Odessa’s win. “Our kids get after it.”
NO. 2 ALMIRA-COULEE-HARTLINE
NO. 1 ODESSA
O – Marcus King 3 run (King run)
O – Josh Clark 10 run (Camden Weber run)
O – King 8 run (King run)
O – Clark 3 run (King run)
O – King 38 run (Pilot Weishaar run)
O – Clark 11 run (Tim DeWulf pass from Weber)
ACH – Maguire Isaak 3 run (run failed)
ACH – Hayden Loomis 21 pass from Isaak (run failed)
O – King 5 run (King run)
O – Drew Hardung run (Jett Nelson kick)
Passing: ACH – Isaak 11-18-1-161; Loomis 0-1-0-0. O – Weber 2-2-0-73.
Rushing: ACH – Brayton Schafer 1-21; Loomis 4-7; Dane Isaak 3-4; Maguire Isaak 9-1. O – King 19-224; Clark 12-69; Weishaar 2-11; Daeton Deife 1-9.
Receiving: ACH – Loomis 3-67; Gage Burchill 3-54; Schafer 5-39; Jared Goetz 1-0. O – Clark 2-73.