Lacey — It was a simple, short screen pass on third-and-long. The type of play quickly sniffed out by the defense and destined to gain a couple yards at best.
Josh Ramirez, however, broke the first tackle with ease. The second one was a touch more difficult. The third was even harder, requiring a stiff-arm.
By the time Ramirez was finally dragged to the ground by a horde of Shelton defenders, the North Thurston senior had fought through a half-dozen tackles and picked up a first down on the 19-yard reception.
It was the type of determination and gumption North Thurston coach Rocky Patchin had not seen from his team during its recent three-game losing streak.
Hayden Maliska rushed for three touchdowns, helping the Rams return to the win column with a 24-6 victory over the visiting Highclimbers in a 3A Narrows League matchup at South Sound Stadium on Thursday.
“We challenged the kids a lot this week,” Patchin said. “We wanted to get back to basics and fundamentals. We were aggressive on defense. We had a few miscues, but we will take it. The big thing about tonight is we executed.”
North Thurston, which has advanced to the state playoffs two consecutive seasons and three out of the last four, now controls its postseason future with two regular-season games remaining.
The Rams (4-2 overall, 2-2 league) will play crosstown-rival Timberline next week before closing things out against winless Mount Tahoma.
Maliska finished with 121 yards on 21 carries, and Ramirez added 65 yards on seven carries to power the ground attack, while Qe’andre Adams hauled in four receptions for 79 yards as North Thurston rolled up 345 yards of offense.
The Highclimbers (0-7), who have scored just six touchdowns this season, finished with 180 total yards with Jake Henry running for 113 yards on 20 carries.
North Thurston scored on its first three possessions – getting touchdown runs of 10, 5 and 6 yards from Maliska – to grab a 21-0 lead at halftime.
North Thurston outgained the Highclimbers 195-70 in total yards in the first half as Shelton failed to complete its first seven pass attempts.
Matt Longnecker pushed the Rams ahead 24-0 with his 24-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter.
Jake Beck’s 11-yard touchdown pass to Colton Hubble with 5 minutes to play avoided the shutout for the Highclimbers.
Olympia ran its unbeaten streak to six games after its 2-0 shutout of South Kitsap in 4A Narrows League girls soccer. … Timberline got goals from Leah Magee, Mackenzie Williams, Casey Whitt, and Claudia Seal in its 4-0 3A Narrows soccer win over Foss. … Sharlene Fine and Rachel Smalley had first-half goals for Tumwater in a 4-0 2A Evergreen Conference girls soccer win over River Ridge. …
Kaysee Wohl had six kills and three blocks, and Sam Yorke had four blocks and 18 assists in Capital’s 25-14, 25-22, 25-12 sweep of Centralia in 2A EvCo volleyball. … Mackenzie Bowen and Kaylene Glasgo combined for 21 kills in Tumwater’s 25-11, 25-7, 25-17 sweep of River Ridge in 2A EvCo volleyball. … Kori Tucker had 21 digs, and Emily Tate had six kills and nine digs in Timberline’s 25-13, 25-12, 25-16 win over Wilson in 3A Narrows volleyball.Staff writer Meg Wochnick contributed to this report.