Van Sickle’s rushing mark a salve for stinging loss

mwochnick@theolympian.comNovember 24, 2012 

TACOMA — Without hesitation, Capital running back Kai Van Sickle would swap his state record for an opportunity to be in the Class 2A title game next week.

“At least one more quarter,” he said.

But Capital’s 48-21 state semifinal loss to Lynden on Friday afternoon at the Tacoma Dome ended the Cougars’ season at 10-3 overall, one win from playing for a state championship for the first time in a decade.

Van Sickle rushed for two touchdowns and finished with a team-best 162 yards rushing on 29 carries to break the state’s all-time single-season rushing record, formerly held by Interlake’s Jordan Todd, who ran for 2,681 yards last season.

Van Sickle entered Friday’s game with 2,599 yards rushing on 316 carries. He needed 83 yards to surpass Todd, and he did so on his 23rd rushing attempt, taking a handoff from quarterback Derrick Becker and slicing his way to the right side for a 37-yard touchdown with 10 minutes, 21 seconds remaining in the game. The score got the Cougars on the board at 34-7. Van Sickle finished the season with 2,761 yards and 40 touchdowns in 12 games.

Lynden (12-1) will play the winner of today’s Tumwater-Prosser game for the 2A state title at 1 p.m. next Friday at the Tacoma Dome.

The pain of Friday’s loss hadn’t yet subsided when the Cougars exited their locker room, but the players already viewed the 2012 season as a successful one. Capital earned a tie for third place for the third time in five seasons; the two previous times came as a Class 3A school in 2008 and 2010. In its first season back at the Class 2A level, the Cougars made noise early by beating three Class 4A teams to open the season and were ranked all season in the statewide football poll.

“This is the best football season we’ve had in a long time,” said the junior Becker, who passed for 105 yards and a touchdown on 7-for-19 accuracy.

“We made our goal of getting to the Dome, and sure, it wasn’t the best of fashion how it came out, but we made it here,” Van Sickle said.

The Cougars hadn’t faced a team with so many weapons. Lynden, winner of 11 straight games since its Week 1 loss to Class 1A King’s, has outscored its opponents, 494-137, and nine of its past 12 games were won with the 40-point running-clock rule in effect.

Lynden used its no-huddle offense to light it up from the start, racing to a 27-0 halftime lead and a significant advantage over Capital in total offense (329-82). The Lions finished with 575 total yards. It also built up commanding leads of 34-0, 41-7 and 48-7 before Capital added two late-game touchdowns by Tad Maiava (48-yard pass reception) and Van Sickle (9-yard run). Maiava also intercepted Lynden quarterback Josh Kraght twice.

“That’s the best team we’ve played all year,” Capital coach J.D. Johnson said. “It’s not a team that you can make mistakes against.”

Lynden handled Capital in the trenches, limiting the Cougars’ strength – their ground game. Of Capital’s 38 rushing attempts, Van Sickle had 29 of them.

Though Van Sickle averaged 5.6 yards per rush, that average was inflated by his 38-yard touchdown carry in the fourth quarter, the longest the Lions allowed in the game.

Kraght, Lynden’s versatile quarterback, did damage with his arm as well as his speedy legs.

The senior scored all of Lynden’s first-half touchdowns on runs of 40, 7, 1 and 6 and finished with 103 yards rushing on 13 carries. He also completed 17 of 24 passes for 270 yards an a touchdown, including a 23-yard pass to Luke Christianson, who also had a game-high 192 yards rushing on 16 carries and three touchdowns.

“I figured that this one would be only a one- or two-touchdown margin either way,” Kraght said. “We knew they were a good team, and we would have to play our game. We did a great job executing our game plan, and everything just fell into place for us.”

Meg Wochnick: 360-754-5473 @megwochnick

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