With a five-game league schedule, every football game is critical in the Cowapa League.
And the Seaside Gulls were down to one last critical contest last Friday night, with two ways to go in the league standings.
A win and a Banks loss would give Seaside a share of the league title. A loss would leave the Gulls in a tie for second with Tillamook.
Instead, the Gulls’ 18-0 win over the Cheesemakers (and a Banks victory over Molalla) gave Seaside second place all to itself, while the undefeated Braves secured their second straight Cowapa championship.
The final finish atop the league standings — with Banks at 5-0 and Seaside at 4-1 — is identical to last year.
And that’s one more reason the Gulls are hopeful for a return to the state championship. It just won’t be as easy to get there as it was a year ago.
Seaside will head to the state playoffs with a No. 12 ranking, as opposed to the No. 3 ranking the Gulls held in 2018.
But, just like last year, Seaside will certainly enter the postseason with some momentum.
With all due credit to the Gulls’ defense, Seaside tossed football’s version of a perfect game in Friday’s regular season finale.
Tillamook finished the game with no points, two first downs and zero yards in total offense (minus 14 yards rushing, plus 14 passing).
A pregame power outage at Broadway Field, coupled with Senior Night, led to a late start. The power eventually came back on, just not for the Cheesemakers.
Tillamook finished the first half with 17 yards in total offense and one first down.
It got even darker for the Cheesemakers in the second half, as all three Tillamook ball carriers finished with negative rushing yardage, and quarterback Chad Werner was 5-of-12 passing for just 14 yards.
The Gulls didn’t exactly light up the scoreboard, either, but at least Seaside finished with plus yardage and 18 first downs, including eight in the third quarter.
The only score of the first half was also the first completion of the night for Seaside quarterback Ledger Pugh, a 32-yard pass and run play to Levi Card down the right sideline early in the second quarter.
Other than that, Tillamook stopped the Gulls on three fourth down plays to stay within striking distance.
That is, until Seaside put together its drive of the night.
Midway through the third quarter and starting from their own 26, the Gulls ran 14 plays and moved the ball to the Tillamook 10-yard line.
Seaside only got three points out of the drive, a 27-yard field goal from Kaleb Bartel, but the time-consuming drive left the Cheesemakers with just one possession in the third period, as Bartel’s kick split the uprights with 10:15 left in the fourth.
On the very next play from scrimmage, Werner was sacked in the end zone for a safety, giving the Gulls a 12-0 lead.
And four plays after that, Seaside tacked on another six points, as Pugh’s 24-yard toss to Card set up a 26-yard touchdown run by Aedyn Cook.
Pugh finished 5-of-7 passing for 91 yards, while Brayden Johnson led the ground attack with 96 yards rushing on 12 attempts. Cook added 51 yards rushing, Jake Black ran for 48 and Andrew Teubner rushed for 47 in Seaside’s balanced running attack.
The Gulls were called for 10 penalties for 75 yards.
Seaside will have a bye this week before beginning their 2019 postseason run.