Cats escape Aloha upset bid
Westview rallies from a 13-0 deficit to win 14-13 and remain unbeaten
ALOHA - Aloha earned the respect it wanted.
But it was Westview that remained undefeated, rallying with two second-half touchdowns to earn a thrilling 14-13 win Friday in the Metro League opener at Aloha High School.
The Wildcats (5-0, 1-0 Metro) came in averaging 41 points a game, but were shut out in the first half by the Warriors (4-1, 0-1), who gave up just 13 points in four non-league games.
Westview recovered in the second half, effectively using play-action to buy quarterback Josh Hill time against an aggressive Aloha defense to overcome a 13-0 deficit. Hill tossed two touchdown passes after halftime and finished 14 of 22 for 164 yards.
'The first half wasn't the line or the receivers' fault; I was missing passes,' Hill said. 'We ran the same stuff in the second half and I started hitting. (Aloha's) real fast, real athletic and played hard. I was shocked. I give them props.'
Aloha's defense used its speed and pursuit to hold Westview to three first downs and 57 total yards, 12 on the ground, in the first half. But the Wildcats reversed their fortune after halftime, allowing the Warriors to advance past midfield just once (on a fumble recovery) and limiting Aloha to 91 total yards and three first downs.
'Every team is a work in progress in terms of how they deal with adversity,' Westview coach Jon Evans said. 'They had a gut check tonight. That was an excellent prepared Aloha team that's probably feeling like they had something stolen from them.'
It was Westview's defense doing the robbing, intercepting two passes in the second half and coming up with a huge fourth down stop trailing 13-7 with 9 minutes, 34 seconds remaining.
The Wildcats took over at their own 18-yard line and promptly marched down the field behind Hill, who went 5 for 5 for 71 yards on the 82-yard drive.
Hill completed passes to five different players and got some help from athletic receiver Andrew Jones. Hill's pass was underthrown, but Jones stopped, adjusted and leapt over a defender to make a 37-yard reception at the Aloha 10.
'Andrew's one of those special athletes,' Hill said. 'He does big things at big moments.'
Westview's sophomore quarterback had that knack too.
Two plays later, Hill spotted receiver Brent Hubbard open in the front of the end zone for a sliding 9-yard touchdown reception. Josh Parshall's extra point gave a Westview a 14-13 lead with 6:33 left.
'I was looking for the first level, but they came up on me,' Hill said. 'I was surprised, so I went to the second level and he was there.'
Aloha got the ball back, but at its own 10 one series later. Shelton made a nice leaping grab for a 28-yard gain from quarterback Eric Whitley for the Warriors' only completion in the half. But on fourth-and-6, Aloha was forced to go for it and Jones' interception sealed the Cats' win.
'Our kids got a lot of attention,' said Evans, referring to his team's No. 4 ranking. 'But the preseason doesn't matter. They were well prepared and had great intensity.'
The Wildcats countered with Hill's second-half precision when he was 9-of-12 for 119 yards.
Westview went 44 yards on eight plays for its first score with 4:59 left in the third quarter. Hill completed all four of his passes for 48 yards, culminating in a 17-yard touchdown to Jones. Hill lofted the pass to the right edge of the end zone and the 6-foot-1 Jones out-leapt the defender for the score.
'I had a little height advantage,' said Jones, who had five catches for 86 yards. '(Hill) threw it up, put it in a good position and I got it.'
Aloha was in good position throughout the first half, frustrating the Wildcats' with its intensity that fed off an electric crowd.
Aloha's Trevor Rochlin blocked a punt and recovered it on the Westview 5 to set up the Warriors' first score. On the next play, Jude Graves, who had 99 yards on 19 carries, eluded a tackler and sprinted to the right pylon for a 5-yard touchdown with 3:56 left in the first quarter. But Dan Wells blocked the extra point attempt for what proved to be the difference in the game.
Aloha went 59 yards on 11 plays to take a 13-0 lead when Shelton took a backward screen pass from Whitley and sliced through the defense for a 9-yard touchdown with 7:05 in the half.
With Graves trying to warm up a tight hamstring on the sideline, Shelton filled in admirably with seven carries for 53 yards on the drive.
The Wildcats were primed for their first score when Wells recovered a fumble at the Aloha 28 with 3:45 left in the half. But Aloha's defense came up big. Linemen Danny Plank and Travis McCowan combined to drop running back Duane Prewitt in the backfield for a loss of 10. Two plays later, Plank chased down Hill for a sack and 10-yard loss, forcing the Wildcats to punt.
'Hopefully we gained some respect,' Aloha coach Chris Casey said. 'We proved we're also a good football team. I can't fault the kids. They played their hearts out against a real good team.'
The Warriors had an opportunity to extend its 13-7 lead early in the fourth quarter after Westview muffed a punt return and Aloha's Nick Marois recovered the ball on the Wildcat 28.
Graves' run went for seven yards, but on second down he was droppped by Andrew DeGarmo for a loss of three. On the next play, Whitley was crushed from behind by DeGarmo for an incompletion. On fourth and six, Graves' draw up the middle came up two feet short, and Hill immediately led Westview on its winning drive.
'I'm proud of how we played,' Graves said. 'Everyone thought we were going to get smashed. It was one play away from going either way.'