SUMNER — Two teams played true to their natures Friday night at Sunset Chev Stadium, but only the Sumner Spartans flashed a winning personality.
The unbeaten Spartans played with customary assertion in the running game, and suppressed the W.F. West passing attack, in a 28-14 Class 2A playoff victory.
Senior running back Brandon Tuilaepa ran for 217 yards and two touchdowns and caught a pass for another score. Running mate DeJon Lynch also scored as the Spartans piled up 357 yards on the ground.
“We’re ground and pound,” Ross said. “That’s our motto.”
A marauding pass rush led by senior Austin Striplin and defensive end Zach Summers harassed Bearcats quarterback Tanner Gueller mercilessly, sacking him six times. Gueller, who finished 22-for-46 for 235 yards, was intercepted twice.
“Our whole game plan all week was to shut him down, and we did,” Ross said of Gueller, who also led his team in rushing with 66 yards on 23 carries. “He’s one of the finer athletes we’ve seen. Tough.”
Chehalis, runnerup in the 2A Evergreen Conference, finished its season at 9-2. Sumner moves on to face top-ranked Lynden, the defending Class 2A champion, next weekend.
In a scoreless first quarter, Sumner ran seven plays in all. W.F. West had two long drives come up empty on fourth-down incompletions, one at the Spartan 13, the other at the 11.
“We always talk about bend but don’t break,” Ross said. “When they get inside the 20, that’s when this team shuts it down.
“They get those two scores, it’s a different game.”
The second quarter looked much the same for W.F. West, but the Spartans geared up the running attack that pushed the 2A South Puget Sound League champions to an average of better than 38 points a game in their 10 wins.
After the Bearcats punted from their end zone, the Spartans had field position at the W.F. West 38. It took Sumner four plays to crash the end zone, with Tuielaepa covering the final 23 yards for the score.
After another promising W.F. West drive stalled, this one at the Sumner 17, Tuilaepa ripped off a 64-yard gainer to the Bearcats’ 11 and one play later punched it into the end zone from the 9.
Gueller was 8-for-16 for 88 yards in the first half.
The Spartans took the second-half kickoff and needed five plays to go up 21-0. Tuilaepa ran for 33 yards and then was on the bingo end of a Chase Torgison pass on a 19-yard pass-and-run touchdown.
After Sumner’s Austin Ford, a junior defensive back, intercepted Gueller on the Bearcats’ next possession, it was senior DeJon Lynch who did the heavy work for Sumner. After a 31-yard gainer, he took the ball two plays later and powered up the middle on a 28-yard TD run.
A 32-yard Gueller pass to Bryan Moon set up the first W.F. West touchdown in the fourth quarter, a one-yard run by Zach Braun. Gueller himself found paydirt on the next Bearcat possession with an 11-yard keeper for a score.