For 10th-ranked Bonney Lake, it begins and ends with the defense.
It’s been five years in the making for coach Jason Silbaugh, but the Panthers coach believes this is the best defensive unit Bonney Lake (4-1, 3-1) has fielded under his tenure.
“Our team loves defense. Our defense is lights out,” he said. “When I first got here, it was offensive heavy where they’ll run 80 plays a game. Now, we’re a defensive-heavy, control-the-ball-and-pound-you (team).”
A week after the Panthers’ dominant showing against Bethel, it was more of the same for Bonney Lake as they shut down Stadium for the majority of the game in a 35-21 win at Sunset Chev Stadium in a 3A Pierce County League meeting Friday night.
For three quarters of the game, Bonney Lake’s defense stifled Stadium (3-2, 3-1), often putting Tigers quarterback Hunter Wendling (13 for 33, 224 passing yards) under duress or hitting running back Jamon Chambers in the backfield.
Bonney Lake forced four turnovers on downs, including three of them ending on a sack to Wendling. The Panthers’ unit combined for six sacks and 13 tackles for loss in the win.
“It all starts and ends with the defense for us,” Braydon Tressler said.
While the Panthers suffocated Stadium’s offense, there was nothing the Tigers could do to slow down Bonney Lake senior Marcus Hamilton, who finished with two sacks, four tackles for a loss and a fumble recovery.
As disruptive as he was out of the defensive end spot, Hamilton was nearly unstoppable while running the football.
“I just had to get the ball. I mean, they couldn’t stop us all game,” Hamilton said.
There was no stopping Hamilton on this night.
The Panthers’ lead running back finished with a game-high 273 yards on 27 carries and a touchdown (17) as Bonney Lake finished with 391 total rushing yards as a team.
Hamilton almost found the end zone a second time in the fourth after following lead blocker Caleb Davis, before cutting down the sideline before being stopped right outside the goal line.
“I started cramping up so bad. I started cramping up in the third quarter,” said Hamilton of his 88-yard run. “Lucky our boys up front kept the momentum and we scored. We got the ‘W’ — that’s all that matters.”
Jason Day capped off the drive with a 9-yard touchdown reception from Kaiden Hammond that gave Bonney Lake a 35-7 lead after a successful extra point.
Stadium’s offense began to show some life late as Chambers (26 carries for 168 yards) and Wendling (27 for 41, 280 passing yards) cut into Bonney Lake’s lead behind two late scores.
Stadium finished with 495 yards of total yards of offense, with 210 of those yards coming in the fourth.
“Once we had the big lead, we backed off of them a little bit,” Silbaugh said. “Stadium has been scoring a million points a game, and they really didn’t have anything in the fourth quarter. I can give up those yards when we’re up four scores in a game.”
Bonney Lake will travel to play Wilson next Friday, while Stadium will take on Bethel at Art Crate Stadium next week.
No. 10 BONNEY LAKE
BL - Marcus Hamilton 17 run (Tate Hamlett kick)
BL - Kaiden Hammond 1 run (kick fail)
S - John Blasco 5 fumble return (Ryan Naylor kick)
BL - Cody Miller 5 pass from Hammond (Hamlett kick)
BL - Hammond 1 run (Hamlett kick)
BL - Jason Day 9 pass from Hammond (Day run)
S - Jamon Chambers 44 run (Naylor kick)
S - Max Novak 7 pass from Hunter Wendling (Naylor kick)