WIAA 2B football championship preview: Like clockwork, No. 1 Kalama, No. 2 Napavine meet late in playoffs, this time for all the marbles

Once again, it’s a party-for-two-from-southwest-Washington reservation in the Class 2B championship game.

And top-ranked and reigning state runner-up Kalama and No. 2 Napavine have seen each other so often lately – this will be the programs’ 10th meeting since 2016, including in five consecutive state tournaments – they might as well be connected at the hip.

They are certainly linked by their respective rich histories, especially at the state level.

“Every time we’ve played, the games have all been meaningful and close,” Napavine coach Joshua Fay said.

Throw out the Tigers’ spring-season 49-32 win, the previous six games have been decided by nine points or fewer.

“I think they are really well-coached,” Kalama coach Sean McDonald said. “And the matchups every year are a lot of fun. We haven’t always come out on top, but for the most part, it has been well-played.”

A big part of Kalama’s success over the past half-decade – this will be the school’s fourth consecutive trip to the state title game, with victories in 2017 and 2018 – has been because of its quarterback play.

This season is no exception. The Chinooks are led by all-state signal caller Jackson Esary, a senior dual threat who has accounted for nearly 3,600 yards of total offense – and 55 touchdowns passing or rushing.

“It’s been awesome to see him grow into the player he is today,” McDonald said. “We knew he’d be special. But we didn’t know he’d be as special as he is.”

Meanwhile, the Tigers get vital contributions in all areas, especially along what is considered the best offensive and defensive lines in the classification, led by tackle Keith Olson, who is a USC commit.

And they will utilize a nucleus of multi-faceted skill-position weapons, led by quarterback Ashton Demarest, running back Gavin Parker and wide receiver Lucas Dahl.

“We’ve gotten to where we are at differently.” Fay said. “We’ve had to rely a lot more on a lot of different people.

“We run the next group of guys through and hope they are ready to carry the torch for us.”



4 p.m. Saturday at Harry E. Lang Stadium, Lakewood

Coaches: Joshua Fay is in his 15th season at Napavine (151-30 record). Sean McDonald is in his seventh season at Kalama (65-14 record).

WIAA championship history: Napavine won the 1B title in 1976, and 2B titles in 2008 and 2016. Kalama won the 1A title in 1998, and 2B titles in 2017 and 2018.

Road to 2021 Gridiron Classic: Second-seeded Napavine defeated No. 10 seed Forks in the quarterfinals (55-6) and No. 3 seed Okanogan in the semifinals (42-10). Top-seeded Kalama defeated No. 9 seed Toledo in the quarterfinals (40-15) and No. 5 seed Onalaska in the semifinals (46-30).

Statistical leaders: For Napavine – QB Ashton Demarest (76-134, 1,792 yards, 25 TDs; 79 carries, 649 yards, seven TDs), RB Gavin Parker (124 carries, 1,460 yards, 21 TDs) and WR Lucas Dahl (28 catches, 825 yards, 11 TDs; 26 carries, 490 yards, five TDs). For Kalama – QB Jackson Esary (126-194, 2,503 yards, 39 TDs; 89 carries, 1,063 yards, 16 TDs), WR Jack Doerty (39 catches, 898 yards, 16 TDs) and WR Max Cox (48 catches, 777 yards, 12 TDs).

Tickets: $16 for adults, and $12 for students and senior citizens.

(Featured file photo by Andy Buhler)

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