Ridgefield 27, WF West 21

(Chehalis, WA) It is always interesting to see how teams schedule their early season games. We always see schools get those nonleague games in early in the year to work out the kinks before heading into league play. On Friday night in Chehalis, we saw two teams schedule a potential playoff preview for their week one matchup. Coming off of a semifinal appearance in last year’s 2A state tournament, the WF West Bearcats were coming into 2023 with a lot of new faces from the team that made that great run last year. For the Ridgefield Spudders, they are coming off a season where they were never really blown out and stayed competitive while finishing third in the GSHL 2A and losing to Tumwater in the crossovers. The experience Ridgefield brought back made them a sneaky dark horse in the GSHL 2A and they showed that they could hang with anyone by not just hanging with WF West, but beating them to open up the season 27-21.

Ridgefield was set to receive the opening kickoff but it would be the WF West offense taking the field first. A short pooch kick was recovered by the Bearcats and gave them tremendous starting field position. A heavy ground attack led by new quarterback Gage Brumfield slowly wore down Ridgefield’s defense on the opening drive. A big 24-yard run by Brumfield set up the Bearcats to try to score first. A couple of holding penalties on the drive would not deter the Bearcats. A 3rd down conversion for Ross Kelly set up his quarterback as Brumfield ran a QB sneak for a one-yard touchdown to give WF West the early lead, 7-0.

Some promising drives for Ridgefield and WF West did not result in anything on the scoreboard for the rest of the opening quarter. Ridgefield quarterback Brayden Malella and the rest of the Spudder offense had some big play opportunities, but just missed on a couple by a matter of inches. By the time the 2nd quarter rolled around, the Spudders had dialed it in and began to hit those big plays. Malella was clearly feeding the hot hand on the first drive of the quarter for Ridgefield. Senior receiver Cash Hill hauled in a 35-yard pass to put Ridgefield in Bearcat territory. A few plays later, it was Hill again as he made a very nice, contested catch for a 35-yard touchdown from Malella. After it felt like WF West was in control, Ridgefield had evened things up at 7-7.

The following drive saw the Bearcats once again gain some momentum on offense. A jet sweep for Connor Coleman went for 27 yards and all of a sudden, the Bearcats were in Ridgefield territory. Declan McDonald would follow with his first touch of the game but because of another hold on WF West, it would not be an official touch. Head coach Dan Hill decided to stick with McDonald again on 1st and 20 and it would be the right call. McDonald weaved his way through the Spudder defensive line and then was gone. The senior back took it 48 yards for the score on his first carry of the new season. A missed PAT wouldn’t stop WF West from still retaking the lead 13-7.

It felt like the Ridgefield offense flipped the switch because all of a sudden, they could do no wrong. Spudder head coach Scott Rice brought in a new QB and running back tandem as Logan DeBeaumont and Cly Stephens entered the game on offense. Starting the possession from their own 38-yard line, the Spudders only needed two plays to find the endzone. First, DeBeaumont found Jamison McCann on a wheel route for a 46-yard completion up the near sideline. Then it was Cly Stephens turn to get involved and he coasted in with great blocking from his offensive line for a 16-yard touchdown. Brandon Rogers added on the PAT to give Ridgefield their first lead of the game 14-13.

A false start stopped the following WF West drive before it could get going as they suffered a three-and-out to give the ball back to the Spudders. A broken play ended up in a 30-yard completion from Malella to running back Rocco Wright and once again the Spudders were in Bearcat territory. The very next play it would be the other DeBeaumont brother stealing the spotlight. A busted coverage left Landon DeBeaumont all alone in the endzone and Brayden Malella found him for a 26-yard touchdown. That let Ridgefield roll right into halftime with a 21-13 advantage.

Coming out of halftime, WF West needed to light a spark to get their crowd back into it. Connor Coleman provided that spark. On the opening kick of the second half, Coleman got his first chance at a return and made the most of it. Coleman caught the ball at the 12 and was gone. Great blocking by the Bearcats allowed Coleman to record the Better Homes and Garden “Takin’ it to the House” play of the game with an 88-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. A busted play ended with Gage Brumfield finding Tucker Land for a two-point conversion and just 13 seconds into the second half, WF West had evened the score at 21-21.

Ridgefield kept Logan DeBeaumont out at quarterback for the second half, but the defensive front of WF West had made the right adjustments and locked down the Spudder offense. A short punt gave WF West great field position and they were off and running as they looked to take the lead. A handoff to Tucker Land looked like it could give the Bearcats the lead as he bounced off of multiple Ridgefield defenders. One would get a solid enough hit to knock the ball free. Ridgefield was all over it as they recovered the loose ball for the first turnover of the game as they took over at their own 6-yard line.

The field position battle was controlled by WF West for awhile, but one big play turned things around. Brayden Malella reentered the game for Ridgefield again trusted one of his receivers to make a play and was rewarded for that trust. A 39-yard pass was hauled in by Noah Stromberg and the Spudders were in Bearcat territory in the blink of an eye. The drive would carry into the 4th and final quarter and the Spudders capitalized on a penalty as they had the ball at the WF West 7-yard line. Brayden Malella would have trips to his right, but after not liking what he saw turned his eyes to the left. A scramble ended with Malella extending the ball into the endzone for a go-ahead touchdown. A blocked PAT gave the Bearcats some energy, but the 27-21 lead belonged to Ridgefield.

After Ridgefield came up with a stop on fourth and two inside the 10-yard line, WF West had one last opportunity to try to at least tie the game up. Some scrambles from Gage Brumfield had a nice drive going for the Bearcats as the junior QB looked to put together a game winning drive. Brumfield would take a shot deep down the left side, but Brayden Malella had one more big play in him. The senior picked off the pass to give Ridgefield the ball with the clock as their biggest enemy. The Spudders would grind out a few first downs to put the game away however as Ridgefield celebrated a big 27-21 win over WF West to open the new season.

Our Thorbeckes MVP of the game was Brayden Malella for Ridgefield. Not only a 4.0 student, Malella showcase his high football IQ as well. No matter what the Bearcats threw at him, the senior read it perfectly and made the right decision every single time. Malella ended up going 9-13 for 185 yards and two touchdowns through the air and added five carries for 23 yards and a touchdown on the ground. If that wasn’t enough, Malella added in the game winning interception to his remarkable night. If anyone across the state didn’t know about Brayden Malella they do now as he matched his classroom success with his on the field success.

Logan DeBeaumont went 2-6 for 55 yards through the air as well for Ridgefield. On the ground, Cly Stephens led the way with five carries for 48 yards and a touchdown while Rocco Wright tallied 15 carries for 42 yards and a 30-yard reception. Cash Hill was the leading receiver for the Spudders with three catches for 65 yards and a touchdown but he wasn’t the only one getting involved in the pass game. Ben Concannon caught two passes for 20 yards, Noah Stromberg had two catches for 38 yards, and Wyatt Hemmelman had two catches for eight yards. Jamison McCann had one catch for 46 yards and Landon DeBeaumont hauled in a 26-yard touchdown. Josh Bell was the defensive standout with countless tackles all over the field.

For WF West, Gage Brumfield went 9-19 for 87 yards and added 16 carried for 93 yards. Tucker Land had 14 carries for 31 yards and three catches for 25 yards while Declan McDonald tallied two carries for 56 yards and a touchdown. Connor Coleman had four carries for 46 yards and a three-yard reception. Ross Kelly tallied a four-yard carry and three catches for 48 yards. Grady Westlund added a 10-yard reception as well. Andrew Penland stood out defensively for the Bearcats with a few tackles for a loss.

Both teams will be right back in action on Friday (9/8) at 7pm. The Ridgefield Spudders (1-0) will head home for their home opener when they play host to the Mountain View Thunder (0-1) who fell to Nooksack Valley 35-21 in their opener. Things don’t get any easier for the WF West Bearcats (0-1) as they make the long trip north to take on the back-to-back 2A state champion Lynden Lions (0-1) who dropped their opener to Ferndale 20-14. You can catch the WF West-Lynden matchup right here on ESN.


Cash Hill gets Ridgefield on the board

Declan McDonald’s first carry goes for six

Ridgefield takes the lead

Connor Coleman Takes it to the House!

Brayden Malella seals the Ridgefield win




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