Kent Nevin wasn’t thinking about historic games.
The longtime Fife High School football coach was caught up in figuring out a way for the seventh-seeded Trojans to slow down second-seeded Black Hills in a Class 2A state quarterfinals game at Tumwater District Stadium.
He did just that.
Fife consistently held off Black Hills — which was averaging 42.3 points per game — on this cold, still Friday night, to escape with a 14-0 win that sends the Trojans to the state semifinals for the first time in school history.
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Fife’s defense stopped Black Hills (11-1) on downs twice, forced five Wolves punts, and took the ball away on two interceptions and a fumble recovery.
Though sophomore quarterback Jaden Cote spread the ball around to nine receivers to finish with a solid 14 of 22 for 146 yards, Fife (11-1) held Black Hills to 44 rushing yards on 20 attempts.
“My defensive coordinator, Arnaldo Arostegui, puts in an incredible amount of time. He had a great game plan,” Nevin said. “Our kids buy it, believe it, and execute it.”
Fife was wary of Black Hills’ ability to both run and pass.
“We wanted to shut down their run game first and foremost, but without having everyone in the box,” Nevin said. “We needed to stop their passing as well. We schemed it up pretty well.”
The Trojans’ size and tactics did fluster Black Hills.
“They got some penetration, and disrupted a lot if things we were trying to do,” said Wolves coach Kirk Stevens, whose team went further into the state tournament this season than any previous Black Hills squad.
“We couldn’t get into a rhythm. Every time we did get something going, we had a turnover or a penalty.”
The Wolves were penalized eight times for 55 yards during the game.
Nonetheless, Black Hills, with linebackers Jordan Claridge and Zach Loveless wracking havoc, along with lineman Julian Kennedy and defensive back Ethan Loveless, stopped Fife as well for the first 44 minutes of playing time.
With four minutes, 23 seconds left in regulation, the score was still 0-0.
To that point, Fife had little more than 200 yards of total offense. But, a bit of in-game adjustment set up a big play that broke the game open.
“Their corner kept creeping up. Our ‘X’ receiver — Ethan Policar — is big and fast,” Nevin said. “He’s on the (4x100-meter) relay that finished third at state. We thought we could get them on a little gig and go, and we got them.”
Fife made a couple of chess moves during a nine-play, 99-yard drive that followed the second Nic Bovencamp punt to go out of bounds inside the Trojans 1-yard line.
Policar, who hadn’t caught a pass all night, snagged two out patterns for 8 yards and then 5.
On third-and-6 from their own 35, Fife struck. Ginnis found Policar open at the Wolves’ 40, and he outs-printed pursuers into the end zone.
“Those outs we ran earlier got him open for the touchdown,” Ginnis said.
“The (offensive) line did a great job blocking and gave us time to make that play,” Policar said.
Fife kicker Gabriel Duenas booted a hard onside kick on the ensuing drive, but Black Hills recovered.
But on the Wolves’ first play from scrimmage, disaster struck. Cote pitched to Taylor Simmons who looked downfield, trying to hit Ethan Loveless with a halfback pass, but his throw was intercepted by Judah Graham, who ran the ball back to the Black Hills 34.
Four plays later, Ginnis ran 23 yards for a touchdown.
Black Hills turned the ball over on downs its next possession, and the Trojans ran the clock out, moving on to a semifinal next week against the winner of Saturday’s game between No. 3 seed Lynden and No. 6 seed Tumwater.
NO. 7 FIFE
NO. 2 BLACK HILLS
F – Ethan Policar 55 pass from Gannon Ginnis (Gabriel Duenas kick)
F – Ginnis 23 run (Duenas kick)
Passing: F – Ginnis 10-16-0-142. BH – Jaden Cote 14-22-1-146; Taylor Simmons 0-1-1-0.
Rushing: F – Junior Faualo 9-21; Elias Faitala 4-15; Ginnis 23-68; Malakai Samuelu 9-46; Dom Hernandez 1-(-1). BH – Simmons 12-17; Preston Lee 6-22; Colten Schneider 1-(-3); Nic Bovenkamp 1-8.
Receiving: F – Faualo 1-(-2); No. 4 3-47; Samuelu 1-0; Faitala 2-29; Policar 3-68. BH – Matt King 2-16; Simmons 1-27; Josh Rodgers 5-52; Lester Cade 1-6; Nolan Reynolds 1-9; Jacob Nelson 1-8; Bovencamp 1-16; Alex Nagy 1-6; Ethan Loveless 1-6.