Sunday, June 25, 2017 This Week's Paper

Charles Wright gets league championship, state berth

After struggling all night against the Eatonville defense, the Charles Wright offense finally struck when it mattered most. Trailing 6-0 in the fourth quarter, the Tarriers launched a 10-play, 45-yard drive, scoring on Colin Reynolds’ 10-yard run with 7:36 left to beat the Cruisers 7-6 and claim the Nisqually League title for the first time since 1989. “I don’t like to give score predictions, but I knew it was going to be close, I knew it was going to be physical and that’s exactly what you got today,” said Charles Wright head coach Mike Finch, adding that it was the program’s biggest win since the 1989 team advanced to the state title game. Eatonville had one last opportunity late in the fourth quarter, but Fritz Jacobson intercepted quarterback Zach Fairhart near midfield on the first play of the drive to clinch the victory. The interception was the second of the game for Jacobson – the Tarriers’ quarterback making his first start at safety – after he squashed an Eatonville drive in the second quarter with a pick on the Tarriers’ five-yard line.

“Because I’ve played quarterback for so long, it’s easier for me to read the plays,” Jacobson said. “Instincts kick in, and I know where I’m supposed to be.” The game was a defensive struggle through most of the first half, but the Cruisers finally broke a scoreless tie on Bradon Atkins’ one-yard plunge with just under a minute left in the second quarter. But Charles Wright’s Robert Luke, Jr. came charging through the line to block the extra point, making it only a 6-0 deficit at the half. The Tarriers struggled to move the ball early in the second half, but finally got good field position after a penalty forced the Cruisers to re-punt early in the fourth quarter, and Collin Hungate’s 15-yard return set Charles Wright up at Eatonville’s 45-yard line. Hungate came up with a huge 12-yard reception from Jacobson on 4th-and-7 to keep the resulting drive alive, and Reynolds then provided the winning score six plays later after taking a sweep right, cutting back to the middle of the field and sprinting in from 10 yards out. “The captains, we went up to our team in the huddle and said ‘This is our drive. This is what we’ve been working for all season,’” Reynolds said. “We drove the field and punched it in, and that was huge.”

Reynolds finished with 11 carries for 66 yards, while Raheem Hughey led the Tarriers with 17 carries for 70 yards. Atkins led Eatonville with 19 carries for 52 yards, as the Cruisers mustered 150 total yards. “Our defense (was) lights out,” Finch said. “Hats off to our defensive coordinator Neil Biermann. (It was an) amazing game plan.” The win not only gives the Tarriers the league title, but a bye directly into the 1A state playoffs, where they await their first matchup on either Nov. 9 or 10.

By Jeremy Helling