Conference play is in full swing, and the hierarchies are beginning to be established. Yelm took down Capital to reinsert themselves into the conversation for a conference championship and both Tumwater schools won to keep their records perfect.
And much more happened in Week 5. Here are five takeaways after Friday’s games:
1. Yelm in hunt for SSC title
With their 41-27 win over Capital, Yelm can count themselves one of the teams legitimately vying for 3A SSC title. The Tornados (3-2) put on a scoring display, putting up 34 points against a previously stout Cougars defense.
The Cougars (4-1) had only allowed a total of 28 points heading into Week 5.
Senior quarterback Kyle Robinson and junior running back Carson Amendt, as they have all season, led the Yelm charge.
Robinson finished 14 of 23 passing for 208 yards and one touchdown. He also rushed for a score, which regained the lead for the Tornados midway in the fourth quarter. Amendt ended up with 110 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries — his last score was the nail in the coffin for the Cougars.
“We’re back in the race for sure,” Robinson said following the win. “It’s a great feeling. This puts us right back in the picture.”
With the win, the Tornados are in a four-way tie for second place in the 3A SSC.
2. Tumwater schools remain undefeated
So far it’s been a relative breeze for No. 2 Tumwater. Aside from Week 2 against Yelm (a 17-14 victory), each win for the T-Birds has been by at least 21 points.
The T-Birds (5-0) continued to solidify their grasp on the rest of the 2A EvCo with a 63-0 beat down of Rochester. It was an all-out attack from the T-Birds, with four different running backs all scoring at least one touchdown.
Senior running back Zane Murphy was the one of the top performers with 55 yards and three touchdowns on seven carries. Joining him was fellow senior Dylan Loftis, who had 79 yards and three touchdowns on five carries.
Dylan Paine finished with 82 yards on five carries — failing to score for the first time this season. Despite the modest game from Paine, he’s still on pace for 1,212 rushing yards.
Not to be forgotten on the other side of town, No. 10 Black Hills is off to one its best starts in recent memory. After taking down then-No. 9 Pullman 37-13 in Week 4, the Wolves followed that up with a 25-17 win over W.F. West to open up conference play.
With the wins, it is now much more likely that the Pioneer Bowl — which is to be played on Oct. 19 — will feature an undefeated Tumwater and an undefeated Black Hills.
It was the same recipe for success for the Wolves (5-0) — a handful of senior running back Taylor Simmons with a dose of tenacious defense. Simmons took the first play 80 yards to the end zone en route to his first of two rushing touchdowns.
He finishing with 103 rushing yards on 13 carries, adding a 2-yard TD in the second quarter. The senior also took the opening kick off of the second half 80 yards to set up a 25-yard field goal.
But late in the game, the Bearcats (2-3) were threatening. Down eight points and with less than two minutes remaining, the Bearcats had the ball at the Wolves’ 35-yard line. Bearcats senior quarterback Josiah Johnson stepped up in the pocket to evade pressure and moved to his right, but was met by three defenders who then forced a fumble.
3. Rainier’s ground game is good
In 2015, it took Rainier High School until Oct. 29 to win their fifth game of the season. Every year since then, the Mountaineers have begun 5-0. The turnaround is a testament to coach Terry Shaw, whose team is recognized around the state.
Their latest win was a 53-12 rout of Life’s Christian Way, no slouch themselves. The Eagles (4-1), a program that has also seen a resurgence as of late, came in averaging 205 rushing yards per game. But they struggled to get their run game going as the Mountaineers held them to 100 rushing yards.
For the Mountaineers, their rushing attack produced once again. Three players rushed for at least 95 yards — senior quarterback Zach Lofgren, senior running back Colton Reise and junior running back Brody Klein. The Mountaineers finished with 463 rushing yards as a team.
That now means the Mountaineers are now up to 1,723 yards on ground for the season to go along with 18 rushing touchdowns.
“We were playing fast. That’s an emphasis for us,” Shaw said on Friday night. “We’ve got fast kids. Even our linemen are pretty fast. The emphasis is to get to your job, get to your assignment and get to it right now.”
It was a crucial win for the Mountaineers as conference play ramps up. The Pacific 2B Mountain division features five ranked teams (No. 1 Adna, No. 3 Napavine, No. 5 Rainier, No. 7 Onalaska and No. 9 Morton-White Pass).
The Mountaineers — in a three-way tie for first place in the league — take on Onalaska next week, who just beat Morton-White Pass 46-6.
4. Elma shows winning chemistry
For the past few years, Elma High school has struggled. From 2016 to 2017, the Eagles won a combined five games.
“I didn’t want that, that’s not how I wanted my high school career to be,” senior running back Taitum Brumfield said.
The Eagles have already equaled that mark this season with their perfect 5-0 start, and are coming off a 33-15 win over R.A. Long. And Brumfield is massive part of the Eagles’ success. He has 736 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns on 106 carries to lead the team.
Junior quarterback Cody Vollan is having a fine season as well, doing it with his arm and legs. Vollan has thrown for 608 yards and eight touchdowns on 23 of 43 passing. He also has recorded 322 rushing yards and eight TDs on 47 carries.
Coach Ron Clark said last week that the camaraderie of his team, which was built through a group who have been playing with each other for a majority of their young athletic careers, is one of the biggest differences from year’s past.
“There’s 14 or 15 of us who starting playing together back in fourth and fifth grade,” junior quarterback Cody Vollan said. “The chemistry is there.”
5. Timber! Down go the Blazers
It’s not often that Timberline High School loses a 3A SSC game. In fact — besides a 2016 forfeit to Yelm — the Blazers had not lost a league game in two years.
That changed this week in a 28-27 defeat at the hands of Peninsula High School on Thursday. It was a hotly contested game between the two conference rivals — last year the Blazers beat the Seahawks 51-14 to secure the 3A SSC title.
The Seahawks (4-1) did not forget about that game, particularly the Blazers’ post-game celebration.
““The way they walked up on our field thinking it was theirs, we had to show them what’s up,” Peninsula defensive end Isaiah Juvik said. “When they brought that WWE wrestling belt out last year and were showing it off and stuff, that (ticked) us all off. Tonight, we showed them that’s not acceptable here.”
Senior quarterback Burke Griffin was a force for the Seahawks, finishing with 164 yards and one touchdown on 11 of 16 passing. He also rushed 23 times for 75 yards and three touchdowns.
The loss drops the Blazers to 3-2 on the season, who now sit at at second place in the 3A SSC.