There was no easy week in the 2A Northwest Conference and little room for error, competing for just two postseason bids in a league with as many as six playoff-quality teams.
On Friday night, Squalicum beat Burlington-Edison 34-13 in a showdown for second place, solidifying its spot as the second berth behind Lynden.
“This is a special group of seniors, and a special team,” Squalicum coach Nick Lucey said. “We’ve had high expectations coming into this year. (Injuries hit) and these kids never flinched. Some seasons you feel like its going a little longer in October, and with this group, it feels like we’re just getting started. They want to do everything they can to stay together.”
Burlington-Edison’s Calvin Absten scored on an 80-yard touchdown reception on a screen, then Absten intercepted Storm quarterback Leyton Smithson on the next drive.
The Storm answered with a 13-yard touchdown run from Washington State commit Djouvensky Schlenbaker and a 46-yard punt return for touchdown by Kaleb Hawkinson to take a 13-6 lead at the break.
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“It felt like we settled in, made adjustments we needed to,” Lucey said.
Burlington-Edison standout quarterback Zach Watson was largely kept at bay in the second half, though he picked off the Storm on a trick play double-pass to get the ball back down two touchdowns with under eight minutes to play.
The Squalicum D held firm, though, and Smithson added a four-yard touchdown run to seal it.
“Our defense was lights out the rest of the way,” Lucey said. “To be able to contain that quarterback and not let him put up any more points is pretty special.”
Smithson, a Division I safety prospect and senior transfer from Idaho power Mountain View, finished 9 of 12 passing for 195 yards, an interception and three touchdowns.
The Storm (6-2) have a Week 10 bye before the 4A state playoffs.
MOSES LAKE GOES FROM WINLESS IN 2019 TO BIG 9 CHAMPS
Regardless the result, Moses Lake has orchestrated a remarkable turnaround this fall going from winless in 2019 to one win away from clinching a Big 9 league title.
On Friday, it finished the job.
Trailing by three at half, Moses Lake (6-3) shifted to a ground-heavy offensive attack in the second half and blew the top off of West Valley of Yakima, 56-17, to win its first CBBN title since 2017 and clinch the league’s top playoff seed with one more league game remaining.
“Our (21) seniors played huge tonight,” First-year head coach Brett Jay, who was previously at Hanford, said. “When game was tight, we watched our senior class mature right in front of us. They settled in, started leading.”
The Rams forced a fumble and an interception in the first quarter and hopped out to a 17-14 lead at half.
Moses Lake deployed a steady dose of senior running back Sergio Guzman and junior Maddox Gwinn to pile on two third quarter touchdowns and pile on in the fourth.
That strategy remained in place the rest of the way.
“We just took over up front in the box,” Jay said.
Rams quarterback Skylar Cassell two touchdown passes of 24 and 36 yards.
Moses Lake plays at Wenatchee (1-7) next week; West Valley, which fell to third, hosts 4-1 Eastmont, which sits in second place in the two-bid league.
TOP-RANKED ROYAL FINISHES REGULAR SEASON UNBLEMISHED
Hear that? The Royal train keeps on rolling.
Derek Bergeson completed 11 of 19 passes for 209 yards and four touchdowns and the Knights beat No. 6 Connell 54-0 on Friday night to clinch the SCAC – East title, their seventh straight.
Top-ranked Royal (9-0) led 27-0 at half and held 1A all-state candidate running back Carson Riner to 73 yards rushing on 34 carries (2.1 yards per carry). Eagles (4-3) quarterback Maddox Martinez left the game after taking a hit early and didn’t return.
“With this group, it’s been fun,” Royal coach Wiley Allred said. “Bunch of seniors that know what they’re doing and have been playing really hard, really well. It has been a good year”
The Knights, winners of four of the last five 1A state championships, has won by an average margin of 53 points this season. The program has not lost a game since the 2018 1A state championship.
Despite its local dominance, which extended to area 2A, 3A and 4A teams in the spring, Allred sees plenty to improve on after another lopsided loss. Film sessions are intentional, postgame talks aren’t all rosy and Allred has no problem finding areas to nitpick heading into the postseason.
“At some point, you’re going to meet your match,” Allred said. “And we will.”
They will play Naches Valley (5-3, 2-2), the SCAC – West third place finisher, in Week 10; Connell will play Zillah.
TOPPENISH GRINDS OUT WIN OVER RIVAL ZILLAH FOR SCAC-WEST TITLE
The game didn’t last long, but not because it wasn’t a close contest.
All-state candidate Jason Grant moved into the Wildcat formation and capped a game-winning fourth quarter drive with a three-yard touchdown run and converted the ensuing two-point conversion to lead Toppenish to a 14-7 win over Zillah to win the SCAC – West title on Friday night in a showdown between crosstown rivals for the league’s top seed.
“Rivalries are always intense,” Toppenish coach Jason Smith said. “They’re literally nine minutes across the river. And they’re nasty on the line — big and aggressive. It was hard to prepare for that.”
Both defenses bottled one another up, which resulted in a low-scoring, run-heavy game that was over in just over two hours.
Brayden Flood’s one-yard run gave Zillah a 7-6 lead with 8:24 left in the fourth quarter.
The Leopards, who have gone to a more one-dimensional run-based offense after losing starting quarterback Clay Delp to a broken collarbone in Week 5 against Naches Valley, used a cover 2 press defense to neutralize a Wildcats’ pass attack that has flourished throughout the first eight weeks of the season.
“It was smash mouth football,” Smith said.
Toppenish will play College Place (East 3-seed) in the Week 10 SCAC crossover; Zillah will play No. 6 Connell.
TRICK PLAYS POWER MONROE PAST FERNDALE FOR 3A WESCO TITLE
Evan Leggett proved to be the ultimate offensive weapon when it mattered on Saturday.
After moving from quarterback out to receiver, the senior threw two touchdown passes on trick plays, including a go-ahead 48-yard strike to Cole Pruett early in the fourth quarter as Monroe beat Ferndale 29-27 to win the 3A Wesco title at Blaine High School.
“The kids are juice, our town is juiced,” Monroe coach Scott Darrow said.
Leggett, who also caught a 20-yard touchdown pass on a corner route from Blake Springer for the game’s opening points, threw two touchdown passes. He connected with Pruett for a 48-yard touchdown on a reverse pass ini the second quarter.
Pruett finished with five catches for 119 yards receiving on the night for Monroe (6-3).
Despite losing four-star Pac-12 target Isaiah Carlson, a starter at running back and linebacker, to a torn ACL earlier in the season, Ferndale (7-2) rushed for 283 yards out of its heralded wing-T, but Monroe made enough stops to stave off a late comeback attempt.
Darrow praised his defense, which starts two freshmen, for staying disciplined against a much bigger Ferndale front. The Golden Eagles beat Monroe 55-35 in Week 1.
“Our defense was lights out,” Darrow said. “We did a better job of understanding what they want to do in their offense. Our kids made more plays, and that’s what it comes down to.”
Both teams are likely to host Week 10 postseason games. Those matchups will be decided by a committee on Sunday.
SOUTHRIDGE NABS SECOND 3A MCC BERTH UNDER NEW HEAD COACH
Matt Johnson’s first year as Southridge’s head coach isn’t done yet.
The Suns (4-5) shut out Walla Walla (3-6) 21-0 on Thursday night to nab the second of two 3A Mid-Columbia Conference bids.
Quite a turnaround in year one for a program that went winless in the condensed spring season and has gone 4-30 over the past four seasons.
Johnson is a former Tumwater and Eastern Washington standout defensive back, who later played for the Dallas Cowboys. He served as the Suns’ defensive coordinator for two seasons before taking over the the program after the condensed spring season.
Ferndale plays Garfield on the road and Monroe head to Lakes in the 3A round of 32.