It was a special-delivery kind of day for Cascade Christian’s Bryce Powers.
And the freight came air express, courtesy of quarterback Jaelin Goldsmith.
The top-ranked Cougars knew they were facing a stingy, angry Eatonville defensive front. Running the football would be a chore.
So they got the Goldsmith-to-Powers passing connection going to the tune of three touchdowns, and sped by the fifth-ranked Cruisers, 42-14, in the Class 1A semifinals Saturday at the Tacoma Dome.
Once the passing game got going, everything else opened up. The Cougars racked up 545 yards, and had two 100-yard rushers in sophomore Zach Bartolome (140 yards) and senior Robert Terhune (132).
The 1A title game matchup followers around the state want to see — No. 1 Cascade Christian (12-0) versus No. 3 Colville (12-0) — is set for next Saturday at 10 a.m. in the Tacoma Dome.
The Cougars will be making their fifth trip to the state championship game, the first since the final of four appearances in a row in 2011. In that loss to Connell, this group of accomplished seniors were ninth graders.
And this Colville matchup has a certain level of intrigue. It is the first time in 35 games that Cascade Christian has faced a 1A Northeast League school in the state playoffs.
“We figured out after (summer) camp, we had a team to get there. It was just a matter of staying healthy,” Cascade Christian coach Randy Davis said. “We are playing pretty darned well. Colville is, too. They are big and physical, and they are going to run right at us. But we like to tackle.”
“Stout tackling” and “Cascade Christian” have not always been used in the same sentence. The Cougars have seemingly always had an offense to move the football. But to stop it — that is another matter.
And the Cruisers would know that all too well as their former 1A Nisqually League counterparts.
But this has become a different type of Cascade Christian team. It handles the contact well. In fact, it welcomes it.
“They are more physical than they have been in the past,” Eatonville coach George Fairhart said. “We knew they were good — we just weren’t sure they were going to be that physical.”
First, the offense.
All week, the Cougars pointed to the same player to try and exploit — freshman cornerback Tucker Poil — in man-to-man outside coverage. When Goldsmith got time to throw Saturday, he put the deep ball right in Powers’ hands.
The first one barely came two minutes into the game. Powers got loose down the right sideline for a 59-yard catch-and-run score.
“Jaelin,” Powers said, “delivered a pretty ball.”
Poil had his moments, too. He had two interceptions in the span of five seconds to make sure a 21-0 deficit did not get out of hand for the Cruisers at the end of the first half.
To start the second half, Eatonville threatened to make a game of it.
The Cruisers went 61 yards in seven plays, capped by Jacob McCormick’s 3-yard pass to Justin Brandt on fourth down to get a quick touchdown, and cut it to 21-7.
After Cascade Christian went three-and-out, they got the football back — and drove all the way to the Cougars’ 11.
But this time on fourth down, McCormick’s middle-screen pass to Justin Kaelin was snuffed out for a short gain, and the scoring threat ended at the 3:55 mark of the third quarter.
“We had a little momentum going there, and we were going to try and capitalize — but they stopped us,” Fairhart said. “They played great the whole night. They didn’t let down, and created some big plays on their own.”
The Cougars went 92 yards in 1:19 on their next series to slam the door shut. Bartolome ended it on a 58-yard touchdown scamper to push the lead to 28-7.
Goldsmith and Powers hooked up for two more scores after that — on passes of 14 and 15 yards.
“We are feeling good about this,” Goldsmith said. “It is something we’ve trained hard for and have been thinking about. We are not boasting about it, but we are very confident going into next week.”