As Jason Silbaugh made his way to a jubilant Bonney Lake High School football huddle, many of his 19 seniors came up to pat him on the back and congratulate him.
It hasn’t always been a smooth ride for the second-year coach, but the outcome Friday – a Panthers’ stunning 24-21 victory over Lakes at Sunset Chev Stadium in Sumner – sure made it all worthwhile.
Trailing 21-7 at one point in the first half, the Panthers scored the game’s final 17 points, capped by Tyler John’s 19-yard field goal to give them the decisive lead with 1:31 to go.
And when Bonney Lake’s Rylen Dunn intercepted a Nick Webster pass for Lakes 18 seconds later, the Panthers not only finished off their first ever win over the storied SPSL 3A powerhouse, they now are in the thick of the league championship hunt.
“It was a big win,” said Silbaugh, the former Lakes defensive coordinator who came to Bonney Lake as the coach in 2012. “Those seniors … they were excited for me knowing I was once (at Lakes). They kept saying it was a great gift for them to give me.”
If Bonney Lake wins at Auburn Mountainview on Thursday, and the Lancers upend defending league champion Peninsula in Lakewood the following night – Bonney Lake, Lakes and Peninsula would all end the season in a three-way tie for the league crown.
“Being a Lakes guy, I am always pulling for them,” Silbaugh said. “Just not when we play them.”
The Panthers drove 60 yards midway through the fourth quarter, and got a big 24-yard pass from Isaiah Weed to Robert Combs down to the Lancers’ 1. On the next play, Ethan McElderry rumbled into the end zone to tie the game at 21-21 with 5:40 remaining.
Lakes went three-and-out on its next series, and the Panthers marched 58 yards over the next four minutes to set up John’s chip-shot field goal as the game-winner.
Peninsula 42, at Enumclaw 7: Avega Siolo rushed for 197 yards and four touchdowns, and the Seahawks easily won at Pete’s Pool. They have now won their past 13 league games.
The last time Peninsula won back-to-back outright league titles was 1984-85.
At Graham-Kapowsin 35, Beamer 10: And now the third-ranked Eagles finally have theirs – a first league football title.
Tailback Teague James rumbled for 213 yards and four touchdowns – three of them coming in the first half as Graham-Kapowsin built a 21-3 lead at Art Crate Field.
At Curtis 53, Rogers 48: Jayson Williams took back an interception 48 yards for a touchdown in the Vikings’ key third-quarter surge, and caught a 24-yard touchdown pass late to push Curtis past the Rams in University Place.
The Vikings and host Federal Way will play for the division’s No. 2 seed next week while the Rams and Puyallup meet for the final playoff spot.
At Emerald Ridge 69, Spanaway Lake 46: Ryan Knowlton passed for a career-high 378 yards and five touchdowns, and the Jaguars survived the heroics of Sentinels quarterback Joe Martin (210 yards passing, 108 yards rushing, five total touchdowns) at Sparks Stadium.
Steilacoom 34, at White River 33: A high snap on a PAT kick with 3:35 to go did in the eighth-ranked Hornets, who were upset in Buckley.
Keenan Fagan scored on an 11-yard touchdown run with 3:35 to go to cut the Sentinels’ lead to 34-33, but after the high snap, the Hornets tried lobbing a pass into the end zone for a two-point conversion, but it was picked off by Josh Lewis.
At Franklin Pierce 42, Clover Park 12: Hassan Kit did it all for the Cardinals in their victory at Franklin Pierce Stadium. Kitt caught a touchdown pass, had two rushing scores and returned a 47-yard interception for a touchdown.