Gavin Kralik certainly likes being part of big high school football games again, especially ones with playoff implications.
And the one his Eatonville High School Cruisers were in Friday night certainly qualified as such.
In a game that easily could determine the No. 2 seed from the Class 2A SPSL Sound Division, the Cruisers held off defending champion River Ridge, 33-24, in Eatonville.
Quarterback Tristan Schoepf passed for 176 yards and two touchdowns, and added another 95 yards and the decisive score in the fourth quarter for the Cruisers.
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Eatonville (4-2, 4-1 2A SPSL Sound) now has some breathing room over the Hawks (3-3, 3-2) and Orting for the second spot in the division behind Steilacoom.
“It was a huge win for us, being homecoming and knocking off a program like River Ridge,” said Kralik, the former Bethel coach who spent the past two seasons at South Kitsap, going 4-16 before resigning in March.
The Eatonville defense forced four turnovers, including an interception on the first play of the game by Zach Smith.
That set up Schoepf’s 45-yard scoring strikes to Ryan Bailey for a quick 7-0 Cruisers lead at the 10:31 mark.
But the Hawks worked themselves out of a 13-0 hole, eventually grabbing the lead on Kieran Hunkin’s interception of Schoepf, returning it 21 yards for the go-ahead touchdown with 8:11 remaining before halftime.
River Ridge extended its lead to 22-19 on Maleko Mina’s 4-yard touchdown run with 2:10 to go before halftime.
But it gave Schoepf and company plenty of time to regain the lead.
The Cruisers went all the way down the field, and grabbed the lead back on Schoepf’s 11-yard scoring pass to Bailey with six seconds remaining.
“That gave us moment going into the second half,” Kralik said.
River Ridge had one final chance to get the lead back after the Hawks jumped on a bobbled snap on a punt for a turnover at the Eatonville 35-yard line with more than six minutes to go in the game.
The Hawks reached the Cruisers’ 12, but stalled after being held on downs.
Schoepf led the series that sealed it. Eatonville went 88 yards, capped by his 22-yard outside run to give the Cruisers a 33-22 lead with 3:48 to go.
“Their quarterback (Schoepf) is a dude, and their running backs and offensive linemen do a great job protecting him,” Hawks coach Steve Schultz said. “It was a really good high school football game. They are well-coached.”
At Central Kitsap 20, Capital 14: Capital led by two touchdowns at the break, but couldn’t hold on in the second half at Silverdale Stadium.
Central Kitsap’s offense got on track when Angeles Davila found Alex Refilong for a 63-yard touchdown in the third quarter.
Central Kitsap then capitalized on a three-and-out by Capital, stamping the drive with a 7-yard scamper by Tristan Barr. Damien Saldana then scored on a 4-yard run, giving Central Kitsap its first lead as part of a 20-point third quarter.
Capital (2-4, 1-3 3A SSC) never answered.
“They had some really good plays in the second half,” Capital coach Darren Tinnerstet said. “They busted that big play that took the air out of sails. They have a really good defense. They made some adjustments, and brought more pressure.”
Capital took an early lead on a 15-yard score by running back Eric Jackson in the first quarter. Quarterback Grant Erickson found Nate Tyler for a 3-yard score in the second quarter for Capital’s only other touchdown.
Erickson finished 17 of 40 passing for 211 yards, two interceptions and the one touchdown. Jack Collard (six catches, 114 yards) and Chris Penner (seven catches, 100 yards) led Capital in receiving.
At Peninsula 49, North Thurston 0: Burke Griffin tossed three touchdown passes, and Alex Beloate returned a punt 43 yards for another score early in the second quarter as the Seahawks cruised to a victory at Roy Anderson Field in Purdy.
The Rams (0-6, 0-4) were shut out for the second time this season.
Black Hills 13, at Aberdeen 7: Taylor Simmons rushed 11 times for 158 yards and two touchdowns at Stewart Field, as the Wolves won their fourth thriller of the season.
Each of Black Hills’ wins this season — against Capital, Prairie, Centralia and now Aberdeen — have been decided by six points or less.
The Wolves (4-2, 2-0 2A EvCo) outgained the Bobcats on the ground, combining for 271 yards. Aberdeen’s Kylan Touch led all rushers with 188 yards on 34 carries.
Black Hills coach Kirk Stevens said the Wolves regrouped well after losing quarterback Ethan Loveless (leg) early in the second quarter. Loveless kept the ball on a read option, pushed for extra yards and was hit low by a defender.
Loveless missed the rest of the game, but the severity of his injury was not known Friday night, Stevens said.
At No. 4 Tumwater 49, Centralia 7: Consistent with past weeks, the T-Birds put up 356 yards of offense, routing the Tigers at Tumwater District Stadium.
Dylan Paine — who leads the lower South Sound in rushing — again paced the T-Birds (4-2, 1-0) with 119 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries. Conner Clark rushed for another score, and added an interception return for a touchdown.
Jose Pineda scored Centralia’s only touchdown in the fourth quarter, and led the Tigers with 11 carries for 56 yards. The Tigers (1-5, 0-3) managed just 58 yards of total offense.
At No. 8 W.F. West 54, Rochester 20: The Bearcats scored eight touchdowns and racked up 469 yards of offense on their way to a rout in Chehalis.
Nole Wollan was 14 of 19 passing for 215 yards, connecting for touchdowns with Tyson Guerrero (4 yards) and Brandon White (27 yards). White led W.F. West with four catches for 127 yards.
Wollan was one of four Bearcats to reach the end zone twice. Ka’imi Henry led the Bearcats (5-1, 2-0) with 101 yards on seven carries, and scored on runs of 29 and 3 yards.
Rochester (2-4, 0-1) recorded 341 yards of total offense, but never led. Quarterback Bryce Lollar finished 4 of 14 for 169 yards and three total touchdowns.
He scored on a 9-yard scamper in the first quarter, before adding passing touchdowns to Patrick Riley (63 yards) and Bodey Smith (15 yards). Riley led the Warriors with three catches for 105 yards.
Staff writers Lauren Smith, Jordan Whitford and Chase Hutchinson contributed to this report.
E – Ryan Bailey 45 pass from Tristan Schoepf (kick failed)
E – Schoepf 3 run (Wikander kick)
RR – Kelanu Trinidad 10 pass from Tomasi Manu (kick failed)
RR – Kieran Hunkin 21 interception return (kick)
E – Caden Jumper 6 run (pass failed)
RR – Maleko Mina 4 run (Mina run)
E – Bailey 11 run from Schoepf (Wikander kick)
E – Schoepf 22 run (Wikander kick)
RR – Safety
C – Eric Jackson 15 run (Carson Collard kick)
C – Nate Tyler 3 pass from Grant Erickson (Collard kick)
CK – Alex Refilong 63 pass from Angeles Davila (kick)
CK – Tristan Barr 7 run (kick blocked)
CK – Damien Saldana 4 run (kick)
P – Braeden Potter 1 run (Kick failed)
P – Chase Wittmers 21 pass from Burke Griffin (Griffin run)
P – Michael Foreman 42 pass from Griffin (Ben Stanford kick)
P – Alex Beloate 43 punt return (Stanford kick)
P – Ozzy Marten 12 run (Stanford kick)
P – Jace Keim 50 pass from Griffin (Stanford kick)’
P – Foreman 5 rush (Stanford kick)
NO. 8 W.F. WEST
WFW – Lafe Johnson 1 run (Cory Davis kick)
WFW – Tyson Guerrero 4 pass from Nole Wollan (Davis kick)
R – Bryce Lollar 9 run (kick blocked)
WFW – Johnson 7 run (Davis kick)
WFW – Brandon White 27 pass from Wollan (Davis kick)
WFW – Ka’imi Henry 29 run (Davis kick)
R – Patrick Riley 63 pass from Lollar (run failed)
WFW – Henry 3 run (Davis kick)
WFW – Jaiyden Camoza 35 run (kick failed)
WFW – Camoza 34 run (kick failed)
R – Bodey Smith 15 pass from Lollar (Lollar run)