Colton Paller has built a reputation this high school football season as a bruising running back thanks to his physical play while carrying the football.
But that doesn’t mean the Shelton senior can’t turn on the jets when called upon.
Paller scored four times on the ground, highlighted by his 93-yard touchdown run in the second quarter, as the visiting Highclimbers knocked off North Thurston, 38-21, in a critical 3A Narrows League showdown Thursday.
“That was nice to see,” Shelton coach Matt Hinkle said about Paller’s long TD run. “He’s got some breakaway speed. That’s a big boy running out there.”
Paller, at 6 foot 2, 192 pounds, finished with 217 rushing yards on 24 carries. He also scored on runs of 16, 14 and 8 yards to help the Highclimbers (4-3, 3-2 3A Narrows) take a large step towards securing the league’s second playoff seed.
North Thurston (3-4, 2-3) found success through the air in defeat as Jake Harn passed for 245 yards and two touchdowns.
Brandon Morgan hauled in seven receptions for 91 yards and a score to pace the Rams passing attack. Teammate Devin Santos caught four passes for 73 yards and a TD.
It was all Paller early in the game as the Highclimbers jumped out to a 21-0 lead a minute into the second quarter on his third touchdown run.
Paller’s long scoring run came after Shelton’s defense stopped the Rams on a fourth-and-4 from the 8. Paller rewarded his teammates’ defensive stand by reeling off the touchdown on the next play.
North Thurston got back into the contest through its passing game as Harn did a nice job picking apart the Shelton secondary in the second quarter with the senior finding Morgan and Darren Sroor on several deep completions.
Harn hit Morgan on a 32-yard touchdown pass, then hooked up with Santos on an 18-yard completion late in the first half to set up Quentas Ward’s 1-yard TD plunge with 8 seconds remaining.
Leading 21-14 at the break, Shelton put 10 points on the board in a quick 2-minute span midway through the third quarter to establish some breathing room.
A Harn interception led to Paller’s fourth score, while Cody Bragg kicked a 32-yard field goal to push the Highclimbers advantage to 17 points.
Shelton did little to disguise its offensive game plan from the start. The Highclimbers ran right at the heart of the North Thurston defense, electing to keep everything between the tackles. It worked.
The Rams were fed a steady diet of Willy Ruiz and Paller runs early on as Shelton raced to a big lead.
A failed onside kick by North Thurston opened the contest, placing the Highclimbers offense at the Rams 45. Seven plays later — all on the ground— and Paller had his first touchdown.
The senior was back in the end zone 7 minutes after that, closing out the first quarter with his second TD.
A 20-yard Harn-to-Santos touchdown pass pulled the Rams with 10 points at 31-21 in the fourth quarter before a 1-yard TD run by Shelton quarterback Tyler Giraldes capped the scoring.
Kentlake 37, Tahoma 34: Tyler Padilla hit a 13 yard field goal in overtime to seal a 21-point comeback manufactured by the Falcons.
Tahoma (5-2, 1-2 4A SPSL) was on fire in the first quarter, scoring 21 unanswered points.
But consistency paid off for Kentlake as it scored 21 in the second and held the Bears to three points the entire second half. Kentlake (3-4, 1-2 4A SPSL) earned its first league win and handed Tahoma its second loss in three games.
Bonney Lake 37, Auburn 20: Marcus Hamilton had 16 carries for 93 yards and ran for two touchdowns for the Panthers in the win as Bonney Lake finished with 262 yards and five rushing touchdowns.
Jason Day had 92 yards on 15 carries no touchdowns, and Ethan Koepke had three rushing touchdowns for Bonney Lake, scoring from 1, 3, and 27 yards.
The win puts Bonney Lake (4-3; 3-2 3A SPSL) solidly in the No. 4 spot in the 4A SPSL — a position Auburn (2-5; 2-3) had a chance to claim with a win.