For the second time in the past three seasons, the Timberline High School football season ended at the hands of Eastside Catholic.
The top-seeded Crusaders used a potent rushing attack, led by junior running back Sam Adams, to pull away in the second half for a 44-14 win over the eighth-seeded Blazers in the Class 3A state quarterfinals Friday at Seattle Memorial Stadium.
Despite the lopsided final score, Timberline coach Nick Mullen was proud of the Blazers’ (9-3) effort in the game and throughout the season.
“Nobody expected this group to be here,” Mullen said. “If you would have asked anyone at the beginning of the season, besides these kids, they would’ve said maybe (our record is) 5-5 or 6-4. They wouldn’t have said quarterfinals.
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“The kids just believed in each other. This is the first group in a long time that just loves each other and would do anything for each other.”
Things immediately didn’t go Timberline’s way to start the game.
After a short kickoff return, senior quarterback Hunter Campau was sacked by Crusaders sophomore J.T. Tuimoloau for an 11-yard loss that left the Blazers at their own 1-yard line.
Two plays later Tuimoloau sacked Campau again for a safety and a 2-0 lead.
“It was great,” Eastside Catholic coach Jeremy Thielbahr said of the play. “Our kids came out really confident and really excited about playing.”
The Crusaders led 16-7 at halftime, but they came alive in the second half, especially the final quarter where they scored 21 points to put the game away.
“I was excited to see our kids play deep into a game and play with confidence,” Thielbahr said. “(They didn’t) get tight. That was my message at halftime, ‘Don’t play tight. Play loose. Play for your family and play with love.’ ”
The message seemed to work.
Adams added two more second half rushing touchdowns and a 70-yard punt return for a touchdown to help put the game away. He finished with 97 yards on 16 carries and the three rushing touchdowns.
“Sam has been explosive and consistent for us all year long,” Thielbahr said. “He’s been the bedrock of what we are doing, scoring on offense and special teams and he’s playing great corner for us on defense. He’s hands down probably the best player in the state right now, maybe the best player on the West Coast.”
Eastside Catholic (10-1) was knocked out in the quarterfinals of last year’s state tournament, something Adams hadn’t forgotten.
“We feel amazing because we got knocked out in the quarterfinals last year,” Adams said. “Just knowing that we’ve made in further than we did last year is a great feeling.”
The Crusaders will play the winner of Saturday’s Yelm-Bellevue game in next weekend’s semifinals.
NO. 8 TIMBERLINE
NO. 1 EASTSIDE CATHOLIC
EC – Safety
EC – Hayden Harris 18 run (Blake Hall kick)
T – Hunter Campau 1 run (Mason Joubert kick)
EC – Sam Adams 1 run (Hall kick)
EC – Adams 31 run (Hall kick)
EC – Adams 3 run (Hall kick)
EC – Adams 70 punt return (Hall kick)
T – J.J. Graham 87 interception return (Joubert kick)
EC – Gio Ursino 18 run (Hall kick)
Passing: T – Hunter Campau 3-13-2-29. EC – Michael Franklin 14-21-1-94.
Rushing: T – Noah Cunningham 5-37; Hunter Campau 14-37; Stanton Hayes 7-22; Jaden Gorman 6-19. Izaiah Jerenz 1-6. EC – Sam Adams 16-97; Chase Failauga 4-61; Hayden Harris 5-51.
Receiving: T – J.J. Graham 3-29. EC – DJ Rogers 7-44; Gee Scott Jr. 3-24; Hayden Harris 2-24; Nuri Robinson 1-3; Ayden Hector 1-(-1)