Facing a familiar foe in Willapa Valley in the first round of the 2B state playoffs, Tacoma Baptist quickly erased any thoughts of an upset, taking control early in a 50-0 wipeout of the Vikings on Nov. 11.
“Our kids executed well. There wasn’t anything I thought we couldn’t do,” said Tacoma Baptist coach Mark Smith. “We have a pretty diversified offense.”
Drew Jordan blocked a punt on Willapa Valley’s first drive, leading to Zach Finley’s 10-yard touchdown run two plays later for a quick 7-0 lead.
“We scouted them last week and knew we could block a punt on them. It worked like a charm,” Smith said.
After a three-and-out defensively, Kyle Delegard put the Crusaders up 14-0 with a beautiful 24-yard touchdown catch from Taylor Martindale in the corner of the end zone.
“I just read the safety and saw he was going inside, so I took the corner route and Taylor found me and got me the ball,” Delegard said.
Defensive lineman Walker Williams intercepted Matt Konigsberger on the next drive after safety Kody Lyons hit the Vikings’ quarterback on a blitz, and the 25-yard return set up Finley’s second touchdown from three yards out.
“I was really hoping for that touchdown,” said Williams – who also led the Crusaders with four tackles-for-loss – of his second career interception. “I had the stiff arm out there for about ten yards but he finally dove at my feet and got me. That was exciting.”
The Crusaders defense swarmed to tackle Michael Neumeyer for a safety on the next drive, and Martindale’s six-yard touchdown run in the second quarter gave Tacoma Baptist a 30-0 lead at the half.
Delegard scored on runs of 11 and 40 yards in the third quarter – the latter coming on a pitch in which he fumbled for a second and recovered to outrun the defense – to put the game out of reach. Backup quarterback Hunter Talen provided late highlights, accounting for all 60 rushing yards on the Crusaders’ final drive, including a two-yard touchdown run for the final 50-0 margin.
“We just clicked really well…we established the run from the get-go,” said Delegard, who finished with nine carries for 109 yards and two touchdowns and the touchdown reception. Martindale rushed for 64 yards and a touchdown as the Crusaders put up 300 yards rushing.
“I think our inside run really opened everything up for those fly sweeps and a few of those pitches,” Williams said.
The Crusaders advance to the quarterfinals where they will host Napavine at Curtis High School on Nov. 18 at 7 p.m.
By Jeremy Helling
LIONS USE STRONG FIRST HALF FOR BLOWOUT
Bellarmine coach Tom Larsen was hoping for a major carryover of his team’s second-half performance last week against Graham-Kapowsin as his team prepared for its first-round state 4A game against Edmonds-Woodway. His players obliged as they rolled up 266 yards of total offense and the defense tightened up considerably, holding Woodway to a mere 29 yards of offense in the first half and took a 35-0 lead into the locker room en route to a convincing 42-7 win over the Warriors on Nov. 12.
“The defense was huge today, give coach (Dan) Shaw and his staff all the credit in the world,” said an elated Larsen of team’s defensive effort.
Bellarmine was clicking on all cylinders on offense, with quarterback Sefo Liufau’s going 8-for-10 in the first half for 135 yards and a touchdown, a 45-yard strike to Michael Rector midway through the second quarter.
Junior running back Isaiah Flynn made his return after missing four games with a strained knee as he showed no ill effects, gaining 62 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries.
“It felt real good and it didn’t affect my cutting ability at all,” said Flynn, who ran his season total to 1,200 yards rushing.
Another returnee made his presence felt on the defensive side of the ball. Joe Lovejoy was outstanding at his linebacker position all afternoon.
“I was a little precautionary at first but after a few hits, everything felt good,” said the senior.
The Lions missed very few beats in the first half, scoring on five of their first six possessions, interrupted only by a Flynn fumble at the goal line on their third possession. But they got the ball back after the Warriors coughed it up on their ensuing drive and converted it into another score.
Liufau was outstanding, finding five different receivers in the first half in the Lions’ onslaught.
“Our game plan worked to perfection” said the 6-foot-3 junior. “We did everything we wanted too offensively all afternoon.”
Bellarmine advances to the quarterfinals, traveling for a matchup against the top seed from the GSHL and the state’s ninth-ranked team, the Skyview Storm on Nov. 19 at 4 p.m.
By Steve Mullen
LAKES WINS, SETS UP SHOWDOWN
While a team could be guilty of looking ahead to the biggest game of the season, the Lakes Lancers were not going to be caught in that trap as they cruised to an easy 28-0 win over Mountain View on Nov. 11 at Lang Stadium in Lakewood to set up a titanic battle with Bellevue in the quarterfinals.
“I can’t say enough about our defense tonight, they were fantastic,” said Lancers coach Dave Miller as he gets ready to prepare his team for Bellevue. “To say that we are excited for next week is a gross understatement.”
Levonte Littlejohn got things rolling for Lakes early, scoring on a 65-yard run on the first play from scrimmage as part of his 151 yards rushing on 17 carries. Nursing a sprained ankle for most of the season, Littlejohn’s 1,018 yards rushing and 19 touchdowns to this point speak volumes.
“It’s been a long way back but I’m starting to feel a little stronger each time out,” said the talented Lancer tailback. As for the coming showdown with Bellevue, Littlejohn added, “I can’t contain my excitement right now, bring on next Friday night.”
Rolling up a 21-0 lead at the half, the Lancers would coast in the second half and in the process, Littlejohn would add two 17-yard touchdown runs to his totals on the night as the Lakes defense would pitch their dominating shutout against a good Mountain View offense. A large presence on defense for most of the night was Zach Banner (6-foot-9, 335 pounds), who for the most part has his snaps limited on the defensive side while concentrating on his left tackle position, where he will play in college. “We’ve had Bellevue on our radar all season after they beat us real good last year. The coaching staff did a great job of keeping us focused all week to avoid that let down,” said Banner, who has reportedly narrowed his college choice to either Oklahoma or Washington.
As Nov. 18 rapidly approaches, Dave Miller feels the excitement already building in the locker room. “This feeling is going to be unreal this week, both on the campus and on the practice field, it should be an absolute classic.”
The Lancers host Bellevue at Harry Lang Stadium on Nov. 18 at 7:30 p.m.
By Steve Mullen