In last season’s 2A state football playoff game between the two teams, Black Hills High School couldn’t trick Fife.
After the Trojans had broken open a scoreless tie with little more than four minutes to play, the Wolves tried a halfback pass but Fife intercepted, all but ending Black Hills’ chances.
Friday night at Tumwater District Stadium, Fife turned the tables with far greater success. Up 14-12 a minute before halftime, Fife called on junior running back Jay Harper-Brooks to throw one of only two passes the Trojans would throw all night from their wing-T offense.
“These kind of offenses are tough, especially when they’re run well,” Black Hills coach Kirk Stevens said. “You can’t get that look in practice, can’t have your scout team run it. Once we settled in we were fine.”
After Fife ran the ball every single previous play, Harper-Brooks took a pitch from quarterback Gabe Duenas and found senior Khalil Messiah for a 43-yard touchdown that broke the game open for good as Fife went on to win 27-12.
“We were keeping an eye out for it, but because they’d had so much success with their sweeps, we were late reacting to it,” Stevens said.
As difficult as the loss was for Black Hills, which had hoped for a little payback for Fife’s playoff win in 2018, the Wolves also at least temporarily lost starting quarterback Ryan Moloney to injury. With eight and a half minutes to play and Black Hills driving, Moloney was hit head on by Trojans’ linebacker Kacey Koehn and, as he fell, was inadvertently twisted by two other tacklers.
A 35-minute delay ended with Moloney being stretchered off the field and taken to an emergency room by ambulance with a lower back injury that isn’t believed to be serious, according to Stevens.
Running back Payton Hoyt slid over into the quarterback role Friday but Stevens isn’t committing to that alignment on an ongoing basis.
“We’ve got some options,” he said.
Fife grabbed a 14-0 lead — the final score of that playoff win last season — after just five minutes, thanks to a Black Hills’ turnover and touchdown runs by Junior Faualo and Harper-Brooks.
After that “our defense kept us in the game,” Stevens said. “All night long we made big plays.”
He pointed to Ronnie Vader, back from injury, as a standout.
“He made knees huge , plays.”
The Wolves crossed the goal line on the final play of the first quarter on a six-yard run by Zach Loveless. The cut Fife’s lead to two points when the Trojans ensuing possession ended with a punt that Easton Casto blocked and Loveless returned 44 yards for a touchdown.
But Black Hills (1-1), which hosts 3A Prairie next week, would never score again.
“Offensively, we just couldn’t get in a rhythm,” Srevens said.
Fife 14 6 0 7 — 27
Black Hills 6 6 0 0 — 12
F — Junior Faualo 1 yard run (Gabe Duenas kick)
F — Jay Harper-Brooks 15 run (Duenas kick)
B — Zach Loveless 6 run (pass failed)
B — Loveless 44 blocked punt return (pass failed)
F — Khalil Messiah 43 pass from Harper-Brooks (kick blocked)
F — Elias Faitala 3 run (Duenas kick)
F — Harper-Brooks 1-1-0-43, Duenas 0-1-1-0.
B — Ryan Moloney 2-12-1-36, Payton Hoyt 0-2-1-0.
F — Malakai Koke 18-98, Faualo 11-58, Dom Hernandez 7-27, Harper-Brooks 16-69, Duenas 5-(-22), Faitala 7-93, Teigan Jansen 1-1.
B — Julian Kennedy 3-15, Hoyt 12-35, Loveless 12-75, Moloney 2-(-6).
F — Messiah 1-43.
B — Kennedy 1-10, Nic Bovenkamp 1-26.