Three Olympia-area teams played make-or-break games during Week 7. Only one emerged victorious. Here are five things that jumped out from Olympia area games this week.
Tumwater shows why it’s No. 1
Thousands showed up at W.F. West High School’s stadium to watch in person Friday night. More saw the game online or listened to local radio.
The fifth-ranked Bearcats’ sought their first 2A Evergreen Conference win over top-ranked Tumwater since a 34-14 road win helped them to the league championship in 2009. Conversely, the Thunderbirds have been on a mission to reclaim the EvCo title they lost last season to Black Hills.
A so-called instant classic seemed possible.
While Tumwater’s eventual 34-0 victory ended with little excitement, the first 21 minutes offered a tense and competitive game.
After a scoreless first quarter, the Bearcats grabbed the momentum when a 61-yard Leandre Gaines punt rolled dead at the Tumwater 3-yard line. Unable to pick up a first down, Tumwater punted and W.F. West took over at the Thunderbirds 41.
“They’re a tough, physical team. They were going to give us everything we could handle. We knew it was going to be a 48-minute game,” Tumwater coach Bill Beattie said.
Fueled by a 34-yard run by senior quarterback Josiah Johnson, W.F. West drove. The Bearcats had a second-and-goal at the T-Bird 7 when stellar running back Jaiyden Camoza was the lead blocker as Gaines tried the middle of the Tumwater line. Camoza wound up in pain at the bottom of the pile.
He spent the rest of the game on crutches, having carried the ball only twice.
“I got caught up in the mix and my ankle got rolled on,” Camoza said.
W.F. West ended the possession with a missed field goal and couldn’t stop an ensuing seven-play, 80-yard Tumwater drive for the game’s first score — a 23-yard touchdown run by Dylan Paine. Paine was held to two yards or less on five of his first 10 carries, including three losses, but ultimately erupted for 194 yards on 26 carries and three touchdowns.
“We expected them to come out tough — they do every year,” Paine said. “It was a dog fight in the first half, we knew that was coming. We kept our energy up and didn’t get tired.”
Just as Tumwater’s offensive fortunes were changing, W.F. West suffered another disappointing injury as Johnson was sacked on the play prior to the field goal attempt and missed the rest of the game with an injured shoulder.
“It hurt us quite a bit,” said Gaines, who became the focal point of the Bearcats’ offense after the two injuries. “They contribute a lot to our team, so it was tough to come back after that.”
With freshman quarterback Gavin Fugate coming into the game for the final drive of the first half, the Bearcats timing changed. A bad snap to open the second half resulted in a fumble that set up another Paine touchdown, this one from 11 yards out. W.F. West continued to hit hard but never got closer to the lead.
Tumwater scored three fourth quarter touchdowns, on a nine-yard pass from Cody Whalen to Austin Terry, a 49-yard gallop by Paine and a one-yard run by Jaylen Clay.
Clay’s short scoring dash paled in comparison to his defensive highlights. He ended W.F. West’s first two possessions by intercepting Johnson passes, then snagged a third pick after Fugate entered the game.
“Watching film over and over again, I learned their routes,” Clay said. “I stayed on top and once the ball was in the air I told myself, ‘Go get it.”
“Jaylen’s a hidden gem,” said Beattie. “People don’t know so much about him, but he’s a very good player on both sides of the ball.”
W.F. West mourned the lost chance to claim its first win over Tumwater since 2009, also the last time the Bearcats won a league championship. But they know they still are likely to land in the post-season.
“We need to do what we do best, score and play great defense,” said Camoza, who expects to return to the line-up. “We were in this whole game. They mentally beat us, but we’re fine. We’ll bounce back.”
In other games involving local 2A EvCo schools, Black Hills snapped a five-game losing streak with a 49-28 home rout of Aberdeen and Centralia quietly upped its overall mark to 5-2 with a 37-13 victory at Rochester.
Turnovers hamper Yelm in loss at Peninsula
Yelm played its own do-or-die game on the road, traveling to Purdy to meet Peninsula, like the Tornados 4-0 in 3A South Sound Conference play going in.
Though Yelm kept it close and got some admirable offensive performances, a 3-2 turnover edge led the Seahawks to a 31-28 victory and sole possession of first place going into their traditional Fish Bowl game with rival Gig Harbor next week.
A Tides’ victory in that game might force the 3A SSC to go deeper into its tie-breaking procedures for the league title and post-season seeding. Depending upon the teams’ results on the final weekend, it’s possible Yelm, Gig Harbor and Peninsula could wind up in a rock-paper-scissors tie.
Gig Harbor would, theoretically, have beaten Peninsula, which beat Yelm, which beat Gig Harbor.
During Friday’s game, the Tornados found it impossible to stop the Seahawks running game.
Shawn Leonard, Peninsula’s most elusive runner, led the way with 24 carries for 168 yards while power back Sean Skladany ran 10 times for 100 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
“They’re tough to prepare for,” said Yelm coach Jason Ronquillo. “They’ve got a dozen different formations and three or four different running backs that can all run it well.”
Yelm quarterback Ben Hoffmann contributed running when the Tornados’ usual sparkling downfield passing game took the night off. Hoffmann passed for just 93 yards, but rushed for 134 on 13 carries.
“He’s a gamer,” Ronquillo said. “He makes plays with his feet that other quarterbacks just don’t make, and he finds the end zone. He played well for us out there. I’m really proud of him.”
Running back Carson Amendt gained 75 yards and scored a touchdown.
Timberline capitalized on opponent’s missed PAT
After a competitive loss to 3A SSC co-leader Peninsula seemed to give Timberline new life, the Blazers went out and scored 55 points in their next game to record their first league win.
Friday night, they got another conference triumph, but in a more defensive manner.
After scoring on a short first quarter punt return by Jacob Conley and Mason Joubert’s ensuing extra point kick, Timberline held on to win, 7-6, when Capital did not convert after scoring on a seven-yard third quarter run by Clayton Grady.
Jaden Gorman led the Blazers offensively with 201 yards on 32 carries. Adam Dafoe completed 7-of-13 passes for 63 yards. Keola Allison was his top target, making three catches.
Quarterback Tristan Redman was the focal point for the Cougars. He completed 9-of-17 passes for 94 yards and rushed for 64 more. Grady Lindekugel caught four passes for 54 yards.
Max Aunese had an interception for Timberline, Gabe Taylor one for Capital. Timberline survived 134 yards in penalties by outgaining Capital, 277 yards of total offense to 218.
In other games involving local large schools, Olympia dropped its only non-league game of the season, 53-14 to Skyview, North Thurston was shut out at home by Central Kitsap, 31-0, and Shelton fell to Gig Harbor, 52-0.
River Ridge, RB Brown keep the offense coming
For the fourth time in the past five games, River Ridge surpassed 40 points, blasting visiting Washington, 50-29, on Thursday night at South Sound Stadium. The Hawks grabbed a 37-0 lead during the second quarter and coasted home.
River Ridge moved into a second-place tie with Eatonville in the Mountain Division of the 2A SPSL with a 2-1 league record.
Breakout running back Darion Brown, who rushed for at least 240 yards in River Ridge’s two most recent games, wasn’t called upon to carry the ball as often, but kept up his production. Carrying just 12 times, he totaled 177 yards and scored four touchdowns for the second week in a row.
Max Eder and Darius Wilson, who also had an interception on defense, added rushing touchdowns for River Ridge.
Northwest Christian claims first win since return to football
Northwest Christian had shown signs of life every week of its first season of football since 2011, scoring at least 20 points in each of its first four games.
Friday night on the Blacktop at Tenino High School, the Wolverines — as the football team, a co-op venture with Tacoma’s Life Christian Academy, is known — blasted visiting Chief Leschi, 54-0.
It was Northwest Christian’s first football victory since the then-Navigators shut out Ocosta, 32-0, on the road on Oct. 22, 2010. They were winless in 2011.
In games involving other local small schools, Elma beat Tenino at home 54-7 and Rainier lost to Adna, 34-24, despite outgaining the Pirates, 251-241. Quarterback Mike Green rushed for 161 yards and three touchdowns on 14 carries.