Wade Denniston, Logan Herald Journal
POCATELLO, Idaho — Karson Alder certainly had a game to remember.
Check that. Make that a first half to remember.
Alder scored West Side’s first touchdown of the game, as well as recovered a fumble and intercepted a pass — all in the first 24 minutes — and the Pirates cruised past Orofino 44-8 in the quarterfinals of the 2A State Football Tournament on Thursday night at Holt Arena.
“I was just excited, the team was excited and we came out from the very beginning just wanting to win,” said Alder, who caught two passes for 28 yards.
Trevor Montes rushed for 92 yards and a touchdown, Jantz Ebanez added 62 yards and two more scores on the ground for West Side (9-1), which advanced to the semifinals for the fourth consecutive season.
“It’s exciting to reach the semifinals and I feel like West Side came out and we started out real fast, came out to dominate,” said Ebanez, who finished with 138 all-purpose yards. “… Orofino is a tough team, they came out in the second half and they did well. I think we kind of died down in the second half, so that gives us something to work on.”
The Pirates aren’t just satisfied with reaching the semifinals, though. They are on a quest to capture their first state title since 2010.
“We want to get through the semifinals,” West Side head coach Tyson Moser said. “Getting there is great, but these kids have been to the semis plenty and they want to move on; they want to advance.”
Tanner Schwartz led the Maniacs (8-2) with 126 yards rushing on 23 carries. The senior running back scored Orofino’s lone touchdown of the game, a 4-yard run in the third quarter.
But by that time, the game was well out of reach for the Maniacs, who had their-three game winning streak snapped.
“Orofino is a way better team than that,” Moser said. “They just had everything bad happen that could possibly happen. We’ve been on the side of that before, too, so I feel bad for them because I know they didn’t come and play their best, but they’re a better team than that.”
While Alder’s first half was one to remember from the Pirates’ standpoint, the same can’t be said for the Maniacs.
Orofino received the opening kickoff, but Josh Walker fumbled it after a 27-yard return and Alder proved to be Johnny on the spot.
“It was pretty exciting for me and it was a great step up for the team,” Alder said. “We got a quick score in right after that.”
Courtesy of Alder, who caught a 20-yard touchdown pass from Peyton Brown to give West Side a 6-0 lead.
On the ensuing possession, the Maniacs were forced to punt, but the snap sailed over punter Scotty Lee’s head and he was tackled in the end zone for a safety.
“They made some mistakes and our kids capitalized on them,” Moser said. “If you’re going to advance at this point in the (season), you have to capitalize on other team’s mistakes because usually they don’t make very many.
“I’m just real proud of our kids, especially our defensive staff and our kids out there playing defense.”
Orofino came into the game averaging 39.7 points per game, but West Side has allowed its last four opponents to score just 7.7 ppg.
Alder and Coby Roholt each intercepted a pass that led to a touchdown in the first half, while a second bad snap on a punt attempt led to another score for the opportunistic Pirates.
By the time the dust settled on the first half, West Side was up 37-0.
“It was crazy,” Ebanez said. “Scoring 37 points in the first half was really good. That’s what we planned on doing, coming out and letting them know that we were here to play.”
The Maniacs, who did not pick up their initial first down of the game until the third quarter, were limited to minus 35 yards of total offense in the first half.
“The defense was really excited to be out there and we just didn’t want to give them anything,” Alder said.
Orofino finished with 140 total yards, while West Side gained 321 on the night, including 226 on the ground alone.
Wyatt Beckstead, who had 61 yards rushing on a team-high 16 carries, and Roholt also found the end zone for the Pirates, who have won nine in a row.
West Side will play the winner of Cole Valley and Firth. The Cougars handed the Pirates their only loss of the season.
“We’d love to see Firth again because we want to beat them,” Ebanez said. “We’ll just take on whoever comes next.”
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