The Olympia High School football program is sure happy to have its workhorse, Scott Gunther, back up and running at full strength.
The Bears have struggled without Gunther (hip), losing to to Sumner and Graham-Kapowsin without its leading rusher.
Gunther (hip) exited in the fourth quarter when Olympia lost to Sumner two weeks ago. He didn’t play a snap last week against Graham-Kapowsin, and the Bears lost, 63-28.
With Gunther back in the fold, Olympia’s ground game was back to its former self on Friday night. He picked up 312 yards on 34 carries, helping the Bears defeat Puyallup, 42-7, in a Class 4A South Puget Sound game at Sparks Stadium.
“I was just excited to be back after missing last week. I was just excited to play,” Gunther said. “The lineman did really good, too, creating lanes for me.”
Gunther scored all three of his touchdowns in the second half, on runs of 9, 30 and 47 yards.
“It’s good from a team perspective because he’s one of our captains,” Olympia coach Bill Beattie said. “His play speaks for itself. When he’s on the field, our confidence level is sky-high.”
As Gunther galloped back into form, Olympia (6-2, 6-2 4A SPSL) found a way to shut down Puyallup’s offense — one of the top offenses in the league.
Four times Puyallup (4-4, 3-4) found its way into the red zone, and was turned away by the Bears’ defensive unit each time, including once from the 1-yard line.
“Our defensive staff did one heck of a job. The kids ran the plan to perfection,” Beattie said. “That’s a great offensive team over there.”
Olympia secured the No. 3 seed out of the 4A SPSL with the win. The Bears finish the season with a nonleague game against 3A Wesco North’s Stanwood next week.
Despite the loss, history was made when the state’s leading passer, Puyallup’s Nathaniel Holcomb, set a new single-season yards record (3,011) when he connected with Noah McFadden on an out route.
“I did not know I caught the (record) ball,” said McFadden who tied Tyler Torgerson (2015) for the single-season reception record (60) on the catch. “As two best friends, that’s something you dream of, setting a record on the same night with the same catch. It’s a dream come true.”
Holcomb came into the fourth quarter needing only 30 yards to break Brendan Illies’ (2012) school record of 3,000 yards.
After cutting his chase to single digits with a 6-yard pass to Tallon Yerbury, Holcomb found his favorite target in McFadden on the next throw for a 10-yard catch and run.
“My last year in high school to be able to accomplish that feels good,” Holcomb said. “I think I’ve worked hard for this. I like to keep myself humble, but I think I deserve it.
Holcomb joins the ranks with other notable quarterbacks from Puyallup, including three — Brock Huard, Damon Huard and Billy Joe Hobert — that played in the NFL.
Holcomb finished 22 of 46 passing with 281 yards and one touchdown — his 38th passing touchdown on the season, tying him with Illies for second most in a single season.
“He would erase all those stats to pick up the win,” Puyallup coach Gary Jeffers said. “He would rather have a win and get the chance to play playoff football.”
With Emerald Ridge (3-5, 3-4) defeating South Kitsap, 31-14, the Jaguars now move into the fifth-place and final playoff spot (No. 5 seed) ahead of Puyallup as ER owns the tiebreaker from their second-week win.
At Central Kitsap 35, Shelton 31: The back-and-forth contest ended Shelton’s playoff hopes at Silverdale Stadium.
After the Cougars got out to an early 14-0 lead, the Highclimbers rallied in the second quarter — quarterback Tyler Giraldes passed for 120 yards and three touchdowns — to take 21-14 lead at halftime.
But Central Kitsap scored the majority of its points in the second half to edge the Highclimbers (3-5, 2-4 3A South Sound Conference).
At No. 5 Peninsula 42, Yelm 14: Brandon Thompson’s 85-yard touchdown run in the first quarter gave Yelm an early lead, but it was the only lead the Tornados saw at Roy Anderson Field.
Peninsula reeled off six consecutive touchdowns, knocking the Tornados (4-4, 2-4) from playoff contention.
No. 9 W.F. West (7-0) at Centralia (3-4)
Aberdeen (2-5) at Rochester (0-7)
Forks 46, at Elma 38: A triple-overtime thriller ended in heartbreak for Elma, which fell out of playoff contention at Davis Field.
Ira Hartford led the Eagles (2-6, 1-2 1A Evergreen Conference) with 129 yards on 28 carries and had one receiving touchdown. Avery Brown finished with three touchdown passes and one rushing touchdown.
No. 4 Montesano 56, at Tenino 14: The Bulldogs (8-0, 3-0) locked up the 1A EvCo title with the win, and handed Tenino (3-5, 0-4) its fifth straight loss at home.
The Beavers were held to 40 rushing yards, while Montesano recorded a pair of interceptions, and led 35-0 before Tenino found the end zone for the first time.
Miles Cannon found Guy Murillo for 21 and 16 yards for Tenino’s only two scores.
NO. 5 PENINSULA
Y – Brandon Thompson 85 run (Cody Frye kick)
P – Kenny Easton 8 run (Danny Jackson kick)
P – Blake Cantu 5 run (Jackson kick)
P – Jack Filkins 17 pass from Burke Griffin (Jackson kick)
P – Easton 4 run (Jackson kick)
P – JT Schmidt fumble recovery (Jackson kick)
P – Easton 1 run (Jackson kick)
Y – Derrick Platt 67 fumble recovery (Frye kick)
W.F. West 6 7 14 0 27
Centralia 0 0 0 0 0 home
WF - Austin Emery 37 run (kick failed)
WF - Emery 33 run (Cory Davis kick)
WF - Kolby Steen 6 run (Davis failed)
WF - Ka'imi Henry 30 run (Davis kick)
Aberdeen 7 0 6 7 20
Rochester 0 0 0 0 0 home
A - Braden Castleberry-Taylor pass from Kylan Touch (kick)
A - Touch 60 run (kick failed)
A - Touch 20 run (kick)