Resilient, physical Skyview gives seeding committee more to consider in 28-7 win over Kamiak: 4 observations

VANCOUVER, Wash. — A week after losing leading rusher and lockdown corner Jaydin Knapp to a dislocated elbow, Skyview had holes to fill on both sides of the ball. 

And a win-or-go-home game on its plate, facing an opponent with a high-octane offense. 

Those questions looked like nonreactors on Saturday. Running back Gabe Martin rushed for nearly 190 yards, including a 67-yard breakaway touchdown, and the Storm (8-2) leaned on defensive playmaking to beat Kamiak 28-7 at Kiggins Bowl to earn a berth to the 4A state playoffs, which will be seeded by a committee on Sunday.

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The Knights (7-2), whose season ends, had just one touchdown to show for an otherwise productive night on offense.

The Storm add an impressive piece to its resume for the committee to review, holding a team that played No. 2 Lake Stevens within a touchdown well below its average points per game (41).

The WIAA football playoff brackets are announced at 1 p.m. Sunday. Head coach Steve Kizer is among those serving on the 4A committee.

Here are four observations:

STORM SIZE, PHYSICALITY JOLTED KNIGHTS

Kamiak quarterback Ben’tre Worthy played under constant pressure. 

He made plays flushed out of the pocket, but the pocket also collapsed on him. Skyview’s defensive front, which logged several sacks, made its presence felt. And it didn’t break around the edge, swallowing up the Knights’ jet sweep offense.

Po Ching credits defensive coordinator Ken Wiggins’ gameplan, and the instruction of D-line coach Steven Brannon on how to counteract the Knights’ edge-focused blocking schemes.

“Everything we practiced every day, we saw it here,” Po Ching, who logged multiple sacks, said. “We already knew what to do.”

In the final minute of the second quarter, Skyview’s special teams unit stuffed Kamiak in the backfield on a punt to get the ball back inside the Knights’ 30.

It was defensive scheming — and playmaking — that kept the Knights offense out of the endzone.

“We just kept on pounding until we figured it out. Eventually, you’re going to make a good call on D and get them stopped,” Kizer said. “That’s a good offense.”

With three seconds left, they capitalized with a 15-yard touchdown pass from Niko Arriola to Tanner Beaman to take a 21-7 lead into halftime.

Then in the third quarter, Skyview stopped Kamiak on fourth and goal, when Worthy hit running back Nolan Martin for a quick pass to the right side from the three-yard-line, but was stopped short by a booming tackle from sophomore Jerrid Secor.

Senior receiver/running back Wesley Garrett, whose speed around the edge pushed Bryan Thomas to built the fly-sweep offense around him, was limited to nearly single digits rushing. 

Aside from his 11-yard touchdown run late in the second quarter, he did most of his damage in the pass game.

“They’re just solid all around, a physical, good team,” Kamiak receiver Wesley Garrett said.

FRESHMAN CORNER MAKES MOST OF FIRST START

While Knapp’s replacement at running back is a proven ball-carrier (477 yards, 5 TDs through nine games), the Storm trotted out a much less grizzled fill-in at corner: 5-foot-9, 155-pound freshman Gavin Packer.

They needed Packer to do his job. He decided to also play hero. 

Packer intercepted a tipped pass in the endzone and returned it 103 yards for touchdown to push the Storm lead to 28-7 with 5:03 to play, deflating the any late attempts at a comeback.

“It was a really cool moment, because I knew the coaches trusted me and everything to make some big plays and step up for our team,” Packer said.

Packer already had the assignment of keying in on Union’s Notre Dame-bound receiver Tobias Merriweather. And he was formidable against Garrett, one of the state’s most dynamic playmakers with the ball in his hands.

“Especially after having a long drive like that, everyone’s tired,” senior lineman Hezaphaniah Po Ching said. “It raises everyone’s moral. We came out second half kind of iffy, and then after that play, everyone’s fired up, especially a play made by a freshman, it’s plays like that that gets everyone turned.”

WITH LEADING RUSHER HURT, GABE MARTIN THRIVES AS FULL-TIME LOAD-BARER

Knapp watched from the sideline in street clothes and a sling on his left arm, which he dislocated in Week 9 in a 58-0 win over Nelson (Ore.). 

His absence takes away the Storm’s most dynamic offensive player this season. But could Martin add more on his shoulders and become the solve going forward as the team tries to mount a playoff run?

But early returns are promising. 

Knapp saw his 6-2, 220-pound backfield mate, who he’s split an even number of carries with all season, excel carrying the extra load. 

“Gabe had to carry more of the load,” Kizer said, “and he played his guts out.”

Martin took more than double the carries per game he’s been used to and averaged more than 10 yards each, often times dragging defenders with him for yards after contact.

KAMIAK ENCOURAGED BY PROGRAM TRAJECTORY

Kamiak’s recent progress report is striking: three one-win seasons in a row, followed by a 4-0 spring and now, a 7-2 record and a postseason berth this fall. 

Quite the rise under fourth-year coach Bryan Thomas.

Garrett started as a freshman Thomas’ first year, 2018, and has been at the center of that rise during his time as an upperclassman.

“I’m just glad I could change the program for the next people coming up,” Garrett said. “The coaching staff has been great, they deserve more credit than me.”

RELATED: 5 great coaching jobs in fall 2021

Garrett is gone, as are a cast of strong senior leaders, but the future remains bright in Mukilteo. 

Tight end Loudenback and Worthy will be seniors, and a young core of impact contributors — namely freshman T’Andre Waverly, a tight end with wideout speed — offer a glimpse at a bright future.

GAME HIGHLIGHTS

All photos by Ken Waz

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