SPRAY – The Wheeler Rattlers dominated the Jewell Bluejays 52-6 on Saturday and are now headed to the semi-finals in Prineville on November 6th. Wheeler will face undefeated Powers (8-0), who defeated Joseph 14-0 on Saturday.
It was a beautiful day for playoff football in Spray, with temperatures in the high 50s. A Thai foreign exchange student sang the National Anthem and throngs of spectators came to support the team. Bleachers were pulled from the rodeo grounds to provide more seating and dozens more watched from pickup beds, side-by-sides and the sidelines.
The Rattlers were in control of the game from the very start and scored three touchdowns in the first four minutes of the game.
Wheeler’s size and scheme were too much for the overmatched Bluejays. The Rattlers ran the ball with authority and dominated the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball.
Senior Tommy Chase and sophomores Logan Sweeney and Zach Neuberger opened massive holes for Wheeler running-backs Clint Rutherford, Nate Clark and Oran Davis. The Rattlers scored at will and kept Jewell’s passing attack at bay, pressuring quarterback Andrew Valdez and clamping down on Jewell’s speedy receivers.
The Bluejays spread the field on offense and tried to get the ball to their receivers in space but the Rattlers covered the field well. Wheeler’s quickness seemed to surprise Jewell.
Rattler linebacker Tommy Bunch and defensive back Nate Clark delivered hard hits on Bluejay receivers and defensive backs Oran Davis and Eli Wilkes prevented them from breaking big plays.
Leading 46-6 at the half, Wheeler let off the accelerator and allowed younger players to have time in the second half as the clock rolled in mercy time.
Next, the Rattlers will face Powers at the neutral site of Prineville High School at noon on November 6th. The two teams appear to be evenly matched on paper. Both are undefeated and both teams are strong defensively, allowing fewer than 11 points on average per contest.
The Times-Journal will be in Prineville on the 6th and will provide live coverage of the game.