Shelton is one of the big surprises the high school football season, but it’s no mystery how the Highclimbers are picking up victories.
Just look at their powerful ground game, led by Ralph Kinne.
Kinne rushed for 274 yards and four touchdowns and added a 95-yard kickoff return for another score to keep Shelton unbeaten with a convincing 38-14 road win over previously undefeated Yelm in a non-league battle Friday.
“We just kicked it into gear tonight,” said Kinne, who scored on runs of 67, 3, 2 and 6 yards. “We had a great week of practice. Everyone has worked hard, and it’s paying off.”
Shelton, already doubling last year’s win total, improved to 4-0 – marking the first time since 2004 the Highclimbers opened the season with four wins.
Four games into his senior season, Kinne is well on his way to shattering the school’s single-season rushing record of 1,657 yards set by Kyle Burbridge in 2007.
Kinne’s big game against the Tornados, which came on 27 carries, pushes his season total to a gaudy 1,170 yards.
“It’s the line. They deserve the credit,” Kinne said. “They’re opening up holes and making the blocks downfield to free me up.”
Yelm, which scored 147 points in its opening three games, found gaining yards difficult for the first time all season and was plagued by penalties.
The Tornados (3-1) scored on their first play but struggled offensively until late in the game.
“We didn’t play very well tonight,” Yelm coach Randy Swilley said. “We made a lot of mistakes, had a lot of penalties and didn’t tackle well, but if you told me at the start of the season we’d be 3-1, I’d take it.”
Kinne scored a pair of rushing touchdowns in the second quarter to help the Highclimbers take an 18-7 lead into halftime.
Things got off to a breakneck start as each team had found the end zone before the contest was a minute old.
Kyle Brownell went straight up the middle and scampered 65 yards for a score on Yelm’s first play.
Kinne immediately answered, returning the kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown. A missed extra point kept the Tornados ahead at 7-6.
Shelton widened its lead to 24-7 on its opening possession of the second half, running Kinne five times for 80 yards on a scoring drive that Kinne capped with a 2-yard TD run.
Jacob Swilley, who became Yelm’s all-time leading rusher last week, finished with 92 rushing yards and a touchdown on 25 carries to push his career total to 2,731.
Yelm returns to Narrows League 4A action next week with a game at Central Kitsap. Shelton plays host to visiting Foss in a Narrows 3A matchup.