CHEHALIS – The North Thurston defense is probably wishing Eric Forgione had stuck with his original decision to focus on baseball and forego his senior season of football.
Forgione caught three touchdown passes in the first half to help Chehalis beat the Rams, 48-21, in Evergreen Conference play on Friday.
Forgione, an all-league receiver as a junior who has committed to play baseball at the University of Washington, caught touchdown passes of 67, 30 and 13 yards as the Bearcats (7-1 overall, 5-1 EvCo) wrapped up the conference’s second playoff seed with the victory.
The Bearcats will open the postseason on the road when they play R.A. Long, the Greater St. Helens League’s second-place team, in a state preliminary game Nov. 6.
Forgione originally elected against turning out for football before having a change of heart and returning to the gridiron. He gives Chehalis yet another offensive weapon – all of which were on display against the Rams.
Chehalis quarterback Mitch Gueller returned a kickoff 84 yards for a score and threw for 184 yards and four touchdowns – all in the first half – on 8-for-11 passing, while Brennen Casteel ran for 187 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries.
“Their kids played hard. They made plays on offense and hit on defense. Chehalis is a very good football team,” North Thurston coach Rocky Patchin said. “Tonight was their night.”
North Thurston, playing its first season in the 2A classification, finished the season 5-4 overall and 3-3 in EvCo.
Rams running back Lawyer Tillman closed out his stellar season by rushing for 112 yards – his eighth 100-yard game of the season – and two touchdowns, scoring on runs of 47 and 1 yards.
Tillman finished his senior year with 1,548 rushing yards and 29 total touchdowns.
North Thurston junior quarterback Ben Broeker finished 11-for-18 for 135 yards and threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to Mason Wells in the third quarter to close out the scoring.
Chehalis, which led 35-14 at the half, scored on all three of its first quarter possessions, rolling up 216 yards of offense on 11 plays for a 21-7 lead.
Gueller was 5-for-5 for 145 yards and two TDs in the opening 12 minutes, hitting Forgione on a 47-yard TD pass on the Bearcats’ opening drive before connecting with Kylon Bonagofsky on a 67-yard scoring strike.
Casteel closed out the first quarter scoring with a 30-yard TD run for Chehalis.