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10/31/2013 9:22:00 AM Email this articlePrint this article 
Cashmere wins Pear Bowl and league title
By Sebastian Moraga

Staff writer

In yet another display of their physical brand of football, Cashmere lifted the Pear Bowl trophy for the seventh year in a row, defeating Cascade 48-20 on Oct. 25.

Rex Pittsinger had four touchdowns, Casey Ruether had two and Oscar Cantu made up for a shaky first quarter in which he missed an extra point by going perfect the rest of the way and scoring Cashmere's last points on a 13-yard TD in the fourth quarter.

"The coaches told us, 'Keep fighting, keep pushing, we are going to wear these guys out,'" Cantu said. "In the first half they came out, they are big and they are tough but we broke 'em down, pounded the ball down their throat, [and] ended up with a W."

Ruether agreed.

"We just fought back and forth, kept hitting, kept hitting, and all of a sudden, our line," Ruether said referring to the offensive line. "They just picked it up. They stayed low, they stuck with their blocks and did a great job for us all night."

Instead of picking just one player, Cashmere coaches chose the entire offensive line and the two tight ends as the players of the game.

"They were outstanding," head coach Phil Zukowski said. "It's what I really expected of them all year long."

The Bulldogs had 10 fewer first downs than Cascade, but outrushed their hosts 433-223

The pivotal moment in the game came in the last half-minute of the first half. Cashmere held a 20-6 lead, but on what was supposed to be the last drive of the half, Cascade reached the Cashmere five-yard line.

Kodiak standout Dennis Merritt scored on a 1-yard run on third down with 9.5 seconds left, giving his team the momentum going into the half and making spectators guess that the second half would be a repeat of last year's nail-biter.

Then, with 0.7 seconds left in the half, Cascade kicked off and Ruether returned the kick 77 yards for the touchdown.

Cascade would not score again until the fourth quarter had 13 seconds left, and by then Cashmere had a 34-point lead, and a firm grip on both the Pear Bowl and the league crown.

"It feels great," said Jarred Collins, "Mission accomplished."

Teammate Henry Cawood agreed, describing the team's attitude during the days prior to the game as "All in. All in. All in."

Lastly, Bulldog Andres Martinez said the team needs to keep going, and keep improving now that a playoff spot is secure.

Cashmere hosts Medical Lake the second weekend in November. First, though, there's Quincy, a team fighting for its postseason life. Avoiding a letdown against the Jacks is the toughest assignment for the Cashmere coaching staff this week, Zukowski said, but the onus is also on the players.

"Ultimately, it's the players' responsibility to play to the best of their ability," he said. "Like I told the players after the game, 'We want to roll into the playoffs, not stumble in.'"

Cantu agreed, saying certain things need fixing before the Quincy game.

"We were overthinking things," he said. "We need to play on instincts."

When players don't think as much, they play faster, Zukowski said.

Jacob Allison predicted an undefeated league run for Cashmere.

"We are not going to lose next week," he said.

The date for the Medical Lake game has not been set yet. State playoff rules give a team traveling more than 150 miles the chance to pick between Saturday and Friday, but this is not a state playoff game but a game to get into state.

"We are working out the kinks. We want it on Friday, they want it on Saturday," Cashmere athletic director Scott Brown said. "So there will have to be a ruling."

Sebastian Moraga can be reached at 782-3781 or reporter@cashmerevalleyrecord.com.



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