BY ERIK ERICKSON
BOTHELL — O’Dea was without starting running back Cameron Daniels for Saturday’s 3A state semifinal matchup against Kennwick.
K’Son Mika more than made up for his absence.
With Daniels out due to injury, Mika rushed 28 times for 211 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Irish to a 29-7 victory at Pop Keeney Stadium.
“He did a great job,” O’Dea head coach Monte Kohler said. “With him stepping in, it was pretty special. He was wonderful and played hard.”
Here are five takeaways from Saturday’s matchup between O’Dea and Kennewick:
O’Dea set the tone with its first three drives
The Irish moved down the field with ease over the first three drives, which all resulted in points, as they jumped out to a 16-0 lead.
After forcing a stop on Kennewick’s first possession, the Irish drove 69 yards in 10 plays before netting the game’s first score on a 26-yard field goal by Dillon Crowell.
O’Dea then ripped off two straight touchdown drives, with both capped by scoring runs by Mika of two and six yards.
“It definitely set the tone for us,” Mika said.
The Irish spread the wealth with their running attack
Mika was the spotlight Saturday but the Irish used multiple ball carries to attack the Kennewick defense. Six different players carried the ball for the Irish, who racked up 443 yards of total offense.
Mika capped the night’s scoring with his longest run of the night, a 54-yard dive up the middle to end any hopes of a fourth quarter comeback.
With all eyes on the O’Dea running backs, quarterback Milton Hopkins Jr. got in the mix with a touchdown pass in the third quarter, finding Cooper Mathers from eight yards out to give the Irish a 22-0 lead.
Elijah Tanner gave the Irish all they could handle
While the Lions struggled to put many points on the board, Kennewick’s junior quarterback put pressure on the Irish with both his arm and his legs. Tanner finished with 149 yards passing and added 36 on the ground, including an 11-yard touchdown run in the third quarter for Kennewick’s lone score.
All eyes will be on the 3A state final matchup
Plenty of attention will be given to Saturday’s 3A state championship between the Irish and fellow Metro powerhouse Eastside Catholic in a rematch of last year’s state title game.
When the two teams met earlier this season, the Irish came out on top 28-6, snapping Eastside Catholic’s 18-game winning streak. The Crusaders took home the state title last season, beating the Irish 31-13
“We are really looking forward to this one,” Mika said. “This is a big one. I know everyone wants to see it. We are just going to go out there and do our thing. Play O’Dea football.”
The Irish’ play style fits perfect for the playoffs
With the weather turning cold in Washington, the Irish have a perfect system of tough running and hard nosed defense to compete with any team in the state. O’Dea will look to control the clock against a high-powered Eastside Catholic offense, which features multiple players with Division 1 offers.
The Irish, who have allowed just 10 points in three playoff games, rushed 54 times for 257 yards in their first matchup against Eastside Catholic.
“We know our work cut out for us,” Kohler said. “… It will be fun.”