After Friday night, there’s no doubt that the Arlee Warriors are a second-half team.
Only leading Noxon 14-6 at halftime, the Warriors simply ran over the playoff-contending Red Devils in the second half. The Warriors never had to punt in the half, hitting paydirt on all six of their drives for a 60-26 homecoming blowout.
It’s not only the in the second half of games that the Warriors are strong, they are getting better the later in the season they play. After going 1-2 in their first three games, the Warriors have won their last two games and with the 34-point rout Friday have secured a trip to the playoffs for the second straight year.
“They’ve always been kind of a second-half team, they close games,” Arlee coach Scott Palmer said. “The first half it was a dogfight. Noxon was there step for step, but these kids just had a goal and they went after it in the second half when they thought they might lose it.”
The Warriors made a few minor adjustments in the locker room and the plays that went for 2 or 3 yards in the first half starting going for 25 and 30 in the second.
Warrior running back Zach Tameler started breaking tackles in the second half and winning foot races with the Red Devil defensive backs. Tameler scored on a 35-yard run to make it 44-12 with 10 seconds left to play in the third quarter and added a 30-yard TD in the fourth quarter. Tameler finished with 216 yards on 17 carries.
“The linemen did a tremendous job. You can’t get anywhere without the line and they did a tremendous job today,” Tameler said. “The first half we were just getting warmed up and in the second half we got use to what they were doing.”
Tameler said everybody in the huddle knew what was at stake in the second half.
“We talked about this being a game that would seal us to go to the playoffs and we sealed it off,” he said.
The Warriors earned their second straight playoff berth in convincing fashion. Running behind the big and powerful line, the Warriors racked up 453 yards on the ground. Senior Cole Rice finished with 103 yards on 14 carriers and broke loose for a 30-yard touchdown to give the Warriors a 36-12 lead at 3:26 in the third quarter.
Holding onto a slim 8-point lead, the Warriors started the second half by marching 75 yards down the field on nine plays and scoring on a touchdown on a 3-yard run by quarterback Dylan Moran, who sprained his ankle on the play. It was Moran’s third touchdown of the game. He capped the Warriors’ 12-play opening drive with a 4-yard run. He also followed fullback Damon Cordier into the end zone on an 8-yard run in the second quarter. Moran finished with 68 yards on 11 carries.
Dakota Desjarlais, who book-ended the first half with a pair of interceptions, replaced Moran at QB and promptly scored on a 6-yard run on the Warriors’ next possession, which started on the 30-yard line after Christian Charette recovered a fumble on the kickoff. Charette also recovered a fumble on the next kickoff.
Desjarlais finished with 27 yards on six carries and scored two TDs. He scored on a 2-yard run in the fourth quarter to make it 52-18 with 6:33 to play.
“This was a big win, we needed it to keep our momentum going and carry it through the playoffs,” Desjarlais said.
While the Warriors may have wrapped up a playoff spot, what spot still hasn’t been determined. They are still fighting with the Lynx for the third and fourth place in the Western C conference. The two meet up in Lincoln this Saturday.
Arlee 60, Noxon 26
Noxon 0 6 6 14–26
Arlee 6 8 30 16–60
A - Dylan Moran 4 run (run failed)
N - Brendan Piazzola 20 run (run failed)
A - Moran 8 run (Moran run)
A - Moran 3 run (Cole Rice run)
A - Dakota Dejarlais 6 run (Damon Cordier run)
A - Rice 30 run (Cordier run)
N - Johny Carter 53 pass from Piazzola (run failed)
A - Zach Tameler 35 run (Tameler run)
N - Adam Moore 29 pass from Piazzola (pass failed)
A - Dejarlais 2 run (Tameler kick)
N - Moore 30 run (run failed)
A - Tameler 30 run (Rice run)