Wolves Shut Out Rams, Improve to 2-0


The ever-enthusiastic public address announcer at South Sound Stadium never said the word “zero,” Thursday night. From the opening kick, it was “Black Hills seven, North Thurston yet to score.”

North Thurston was yet to score at the end of the first quarter. And when the Black Hills football team stretched its lead just before that half. And at the end of the third quarter the Rams were still yet to score.

Finally, as the Wolves took one last kneel-down, he had to say it: Black Hills 15, North Thurston 0.

“It was a hell of an effort,” second-year coach Garrett Baldwin said. “The defense came out guns blazing, and we needed that bad.”

The offense didn’t always make it the easiest, but time and time again, the Wolves held strong to improve to 2-0 for the first time since 2018. The Rams gained just 171 total yards and 145 on the ground — 98 of those came in the first quarter, before the Wolves tightened things up completely.

Meanwhile, Bronson Campbell — and the Black Hills kick return team — put up all the scoring the Wolves would need in 13 seconds, taking the opening kickoff back to the house to immediately put the guests ahead 7-0.

“That’s awesome. That’s the juice you need right there," Baldwin said. "We made a switch there right at the end and got Bronson Campbell in there, and he did a great job. The blocking was there. We had two great blocks; Hank Spray and Travis Carson had two pancakes on that play and sprung it open.”

When the offense finally got the ball for the first time, after the defense held at the goal line and North Thurston missed a 28-yard field goal, the Wolves hit a couple quick plays but found themselves struggling against a stout front of Rams. That’s when the field position game started, starring Tanner Parkinson.

The do-it-all senior pinned the Rams inside their own 20-yard line three times. On his one kickoff — to open the second half — he boomed the ball to the 1-yard line, where it promptly bounced 90 degrees sideways and refused to roll into the end zone, forcing the NT returner to pick it up and putting the Rams deep in their own territory.

“If you look at the statsheet, he doesn’t have these punts that are going a mile long, but the kid just makes plays, he puts the ball where it needs to be,” Baldwin said. “The kid is just special, he just has so much poise.”

Oh, and he also came down with two interceptions on defense, and ran in a two-point conversion.

The conversion came after Black Hills only scoring drive on offense, when the Wolves recovered a fumble on their own 45-yard line, and four Johnnie Stallings runs set up play action, with Jaxsen Beck rolling out and hitting Braiden Bond for a 29-yard strike.

Aside from that, it was a slow day for the Wolves on offense, with a handful of penalties and multiple turnovers. But every time the defense had to come back out, it held.

“We just got back to ‘Hey, we’ve got to be gap-sound, we’ve got to finish our technique, finish plays,’” Baldwin said. “We were tackling high, so we got in the locker room at halftime and talked about getting our pad level low, and that’s what we did. That’s the difference we saw.”

It held North Thurston’s Rudy Larson to 4-for-23 passing, with three picks. It held when the offense failed to drive down the clock on the first half and gave the Rams the ball back late. It held when the Rams brought an offensive lineman to carry the ball on fourth-and-1, stuffing him in the backfield. It held in its own territory after Beck’s lone pick of the night. And it held late, when penalties gave North Thurston two first downs — it had just one other the entire second half — turning the Rams over on downs at the 14 to end it.

Beck finished his night 9-for-15 for 105 yards. 

Stallings carried the ball 24 times for 105 yards, and added five catches for 53. Aside from one interception and a sack, the workhorse tailback touched the ball on every single offensive play for Black Hills in the second half.

“We can count on him,” Baldwin said.

Black Hills (2-0) will try to keep its good fortunes going into 2A Evergreen Conference play when they face Rochester on the road next Friday. Already with more wins than he had in his first season at the helm, Baldwin and his Wolves are looking to improve on a 1-5 league showing last season, and think they have the group to do it.

“The culture has totally changed,” Baldwin said. “That was a lot of punches thrown back and forth between us and the Rams. Hats off to them, but we just didn’t give up. We’re not quitting, we keep fighting, and I’m proud of them.”