PASCO — Chiawana’s defense has built a reputation by chewing up and spitting out quarterbacks with its deception, but they had never faced anything like Clay Millen.
Millen threw six touchdown passes despite nonstop pressure from the opposing front, four to senior Brayden Holt (a career-high), to lead 11-seed Mount Si past 6-seed Chiawana 46-21 to advance to the 4A state quarterfinals on Saturday afternoon at Edgar Brown Stadium for the second consecutive season.
The result sets up a quarterfinal matchup against 3-seeded Lake Stevens, which defeated 14-seed Union by a touchdown on Saturday.
The Wildcats scored its second-highest point total this season against a defense that held opponents to 8.5 points per game on average. And for much of the afternoon, it was a defense that put pressure on Millen, who was sacked several times by Riley Cissne, Bridger Feldmann and company.
Wildcats coach Charlie Kinnune feels confident that his two-loss team that finished as the KingCo crossover 3-seed, led by a young core of juniors, is playing its best football of the season.
It hasn’t just been Millen. Each week, seemingly a new player has stepped up. Last week in the Week 10 district crossover win over Monroe, running back Cole Norah scored two touchdowns and ran for more than 120 yards.
On Saturday, Holt shined. His four touchdowns helped the Wildcats flourish in the air, something it hasn’t done to this level since top target Colby Botten suffered a season-ending broken foot late in the regular season.
Holt said the key to his success is to have a short memory.
“Clay threw the ball up to me, he trusts me with everything he’s got,” Holt said. “I just go up and get it. Next play, forget about it and move on.”
Millen said him and Holt would often meet up and throw at 7 a.m. over the summer, which is where their chemistry began to develop. The two have played together for seven years.
“He played awesome,” Millen said. “It just shows how hard he works. We’d be throwing almost every day. He’s an extremely hard worker and it definitely showed. He had an amazing game.”
Chiawana began the game with momentum. As Mount Si was about to score, senior linebacker Marvell Cooks snatched the ball out of his outstretched hands at the goal line and ran it back to the 25 yard line.
The Riverhawks put the first points on the board on that same drive when Dion Lee caught a five-yard pass from JP Zamora.
Mount Si responded by forcing a safety and proceeding to score 25 unanswered points in the second quarter.