Behind an all-out rushing attack, the Neah Bay Red Devils grabbed a 56-38 over the Liberty Christian Patriots in the 1B state finals.
For Neah Bay, this is their third state title in four years. Their only loss during that time in the championship game came against Liberty Christian in 2012.
“For me, really, because it hurt me deep to lose to them the first time and a lot of these kids didn’t play on that team ... it’s a satisfaction for me,” Neah Bay head coach Todd McCauley said of the 2012 result. “I’m sure (for) John Reamer and Josh Monette and a couple of guys that did play, I’m sure it is.”
On the ground, sophomore Cole Svec and senior Chris Martinez propelled the Red Devils’ offense to 316 yards on the ground on 50 attempts. Martinez, the bigger of the two backs, also punched in a game-high four touchdowns, all within 25 yards.
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Despite the ground-and-pound attack’s effectiveness, the biggest play of the game actually came defensively for Neah Bay on the first drive of the third quarter.
With Liberty Christian marching to the end zone to tie the game and quarterback Lesser on the keeper, Neah Bay senior defensive end Reamer forcibly ripped the ball away from Lesser and proceeded to run unchallenged 93 yards the other way for the touchdown. Liberty Christian never was in a spot to tie the game again.
“Probably the key to the game,” McCauley said of the big play from Reamer. “That was huge. Our senior came up big and ripped the ball out. We worked on that. It was really huge.”
For Liberty Christian, who hung close till the fourth quarter, junior quarterback John Lesser and senior Cody Daniels accounted for almost the entire Patriots offense.
Daniels finished with 143 yards on the ground and three touchdowns while Lesser had 146 yards on the ground, three touchdowns and 212 yards through the air.
Despite the one-sided score line, Liberty Christian head coach Mike Olson thought Neah Bay may be the beneficiaries of an easier path to the title game.
“They’re always going to have a good shot to make the playoffs over here,” Olson said of Neah Bay. “I just don’t think the competition is tough enough for anyone to knock them off other than for maybe Lummi. At least not right now, the way that it has been going the last couple of years.
“Neah Bay has been here four years in a row now. I mean, they’ve had good teams, but they’ve also kind of blown people out along the way and not really been challenged. Whereas we have pretty good teams on the other side of the state, so if we want to get back here again, we’re going to have to play some good football.”