The third-ranked Steilacoom High School Sentiensl are 2A SPSL Mountain champions for the second time in three seasons.
Senior Chance McDonald passed for 440 yards and a school-record seven touchdowns, leading the Sentinels past River Ridge, 55-20, on Thursday night at South Sound Stadium in Lacey.
They will play either Franklin Pierce or Orting next week for the league championship, and No. 1 seed to the district playoffs.
Here are five takeaways from the Steilacoom-River Ridge game:
WITHOUT QUESTION, THE SENTINELS HAVE A ‘CHANCE’ TO WIN A 2A TITLE
McDonald, a first-year starting quarterback, is starting to really manage the Steilacoom offense like a cool-headed veteran.
Again, McDonald flashed the big arm Thursday, connecting on multiple long touchdown passes with standout receivers Emeka Ebuka, Tre Horner and Logan Brady.
But Steilacoom coach Colby Davies praised McDonald’s overall efficiency and command of the passing attack, especially in a league-title showdown.
“We are, what – Week 8 now? He is making quicker decisions now than he did in Weeks 1, 2 and 3,” Davies said. “I think that is comfort in the offense, and him getting dialed in with what we are doing.”
NEED TO CLOSE A HALF IN STYLE? JUST LOOK FOR EMEKA EGBUKA
At 24-7 late in the first half, it is still a close game.
So the Sentinels made sure to widen the margin quickly. With a minute to go, McDonald found No. 2 – Egbuka – on the scoring play that essentially sewed up the divisional crown.
McDonald laid a perfect 64-yard pass in Egbuka’s arms, and the junior did the rest by racing in with the touchdown.
Egbuka finished with four receptions for 158 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He also went over 1,000 yards receiving Thursday night (47 catches, 1,129 yards, 15 touchdowns) in back-to-back seasons.
“We are rolling right now,” Egbuka said.
SENTINELS’ HEAVY-DUTY ADJUSTMENT ON DEFENSE WORKING
In Steilacoom’s two biggest statement games in September, the team gave up 41 points to reigning Class 4A champion Union (41-13 loss) and 56 points to reigning 2A runner-up Lynden (56-47 loss).
Those two losses prompted Davies to sit down with his defensive coaches to figure out some adjustments.
And they did by incorporating more five-man defensive fronts.
“We’ve learned to be more physical,” Davies said.
WELCOME TO THE PASS-CATCHING PARTY, LOGAN BRADY!
Logan Brady came into this season as a running back with Steilacoom.
And he will be leaving as a big-play wide receiver.
A week after catching a career-high four touchdown passes against Eatonville, he again filled in for the injured Isaiah Devane by catching a team-best eight passes for 165 yards and three more touchdowns Thursday night.
“Nobody runs routes harder than Logan Brady,” Davies said. “Nobody practices harder.”
Davies said Brady has certainly earned regular playing time even after Devane returns.
RIVER RIDGE NOW KNOWS WHAT A SERIOUS CONTENDER LOOKS LIKE
After upending Fife two weeks ago, River Ridge earned the spot to try and win the divisional title Thursday night at home.
And even after losing, it is obvious the Hawks have big-play pieces to win more important ballgames, especially on offense with quarterback Jevon Brown and wide receiver Dontae Owens, both juniors.
“I told them at halftime, ‘Hey guys, we are getting a good look at a playoff team (in Steilacoom),'” Hawks coach Steve Schultz said. “We’ve got to start adjusting our play … but we are going to go to film, and they will learn. We will get better.”