TUALATIN — They can run.
They can pass.
They can play swarming, hard-hitting defense.
They have a lot of energy, and they're playing at a high tempo.
They're definitely having fun.
And the Timberwolves are 2-0.
The Tualatin High School football team, which went 2-8 in 2016, picked up its second-straight impressive win to start the 2017 season, as it rolled to a 53-0 win over Battle Ground, Wash., in a non-league game played Friday at Tualatin High School.
"Oh my gosh, that was amazing," said Tualatin junior quarterback Kyle Dernedde, who threw five touchdown passes in the victory. "It's great to start the season like this. To be 2-0 feels incredible after last season."
"It feels great, especially after last season," said Timberwolf senior receiver/defensive back Chris Freese, who was one of five Tualatin players to catch a TD pass. "We have high energy and a high tempo. We love the coaches and the atmosphere here."
"It definitely means a lot," Tualatin sophomore linebacker John Miller said of the fast start to the season. "It's a good confidence builder for us."
The Wolves, who lost 38-7 at Battle Ground last year, have outscored their two opponents this year, Grant and Battle Ground, by a 108-21 margin.
"It's been a lot of fun," first-year Tualatin head coach Dan Lever said. "We don't talk about wins here, we talk about competing. We've got some high expectations, and we love coaching these kids."
Tualatin, which mainly relied on its running game during its season-opening win over Grant, unleashed its passing attack in the victory over Battle Ground.
"We love running the spread offense," Dernedde said. "We take what the other team gives us. The opportunity was there to pass, and we took it."
That passing attack led to the Wolves' first touchdown. Dernedde completed a 27-yard pass to junior running back Kyle Kamp, and he followed that up with a 31-yard toss to senior receiver Jackson Willig. On the very next play, senior running back Lucas Noland scored on a 6-yard run, giving Tualatin a 7-0 lead with 4 minutes and 12 seconds left to play in the first quarter.
The next time the Wolves had the ball, Dernedde showed he can also run the ball, as he scrambled 41 yards to the Battle Ground 11-yard line. Two plays later, Dernedde connected with Freese on an 8-yard touchdown pass, which made the score 14-0 with 2:37 left in the opening period.
The Wolves kept rolling in the second quarter. On the first play from scrimmage in the period, Dernedde, rolling out to his right, found Kamp open down the sideline, and hit him in stride with a pass, resulting in a 38-yard touchdown pass play, upping the margin to 21-0.
In Tualatin's next possession, the Wolves moved 69 yards in nine plays, ending the drive with an 8-yard touchdown pass from Dernedde to junior tight end Jalen Hale. The TD upped the lead to 27-0 with 7:02 left to play in the second quarter.
The Tualatin defense set up the next score, as Timberwolf senior defensive back Colby Jackson intercepted a deflected pass at the Battle Ground 25-yard line with 33 seconds remaining in the first half.
But that would turn out to be more than enough time.
On the very next play, Dernedde found Willig open down the middle for a 25-yard touchdown pass, which gave the Timberwolves a 33-0 halftime lead.
Dernedde picked up his fifth TD toss of the game in the third quarter, when he connected with senior receiver Nick Savage on a 28-yard scoring play, which gave the Wolves a 39-0 lead with 3:51 remaining in the third quarter.
Nathan Marx took over from there. Marx, a Tualatin senior running back, scored on a 12-yard run to make the score 46-0 with 1:21 left in the third quarter.
Then, early in the fourth quarter, Marx intercepted a Battle Ground pass, and returned the ball 42 yards for another touchdown. Marx then booted the extra point (Dernedde kicked the previous extra-points) to cap off the scoring in the 53-0 Timberwolf victory.
"We were ready," Miller said with a smile.
"We've been so disciplined in practice," Dernedde said. "And we've been working hard."
"This was great," Freese said. "Especially since we lost to them last year."
Dernedde, for the game, completed 14 of 20 pass attempts for 229 yards and five touchdowns, with one interception.
"On that interception, he threw it where I told him to throw it," Lever said. "So, that one's on coach. He's a great kid, and you can teach him anything."
"I love my receivers," said Dernedde, who also rushed for a team-high 53 yards on four carries. "I trust all of them. We all have each other's back."
Freese had three catches for 39 yards in the victory. Junior Jett Searle had three grabs for 34 yards. Savage had three catches for 27 yards. Kamp had two for 65 and Willig had two receptions for 56 yards.
Sophomore running back Kainoa Sayre rushed for 41 yards on nine carries and Marx had 26 rushing yards on three carries.
Meanwhile, the Tualatin defense held Battle Ground to 167 yards of total offense, on 54 plays, as the Wolves picked up their first shutout since they scored a 14-0 win at Forest Grove back on Sept. 13, 2013.
"It was great," Freese said of the shutout. "We want to get the ball, and give it back to our offense."
"It's all mentality on defense," Miller said. "And the coaches told us that you have to go hard on defense."
"(Tualatin defensive coordinator) Erik Moen and the defensive coaches have done a phenomenal job," Lever said. "We've spent a lot of time working on the fundamentals."
Miller had three tackles for losses to help lead the way on defense. Senior Duncan McDonald, sophomore Jake Reser and Marx each had a quarterback sack. Jackson and Marx each had an interception. Noland, senior Gerald Saina and sophomore Josh Boespflug each had a tackle for a loss. Junior Jake Anderson had a fumble recovery.
For Battle Ground, senior Brock Robinson ran for 102 yards on 14 carries. Junior quarterback Seth Workman completed five of 14 passes for 20 yards.
The Wolves will be back in action on Friday, when they play at Lakeridge in a Three Rivers League opener, starting at 7 p.m.
"The level of play will rise significantly," Lever said of Three Rivers League play.
"We're looking forward to it," Dernedde said. "We want to make Tualatin a big name again."