A stormy night in Tacoma turned into a historic one for Stadium High School, as the Tigers pulled away to a 42-14 win over the Wilson Rams at Stadium Bowl on Friday night to clinch the first football postseason berth in school history.
“There’s not enough words to describe the feeling I have right now,” Stadium head coach Thomas Ford said. “These kids have worked extremely hard, not just this season but over the last two years, especially our seniors, to get us to this point.
“To make the playoffs and do something that this school has never done is pretty special.”
Junior quarterback Hunter Wendling passed for one touchdown and ran for two more as Stadium shut out Wilson in the second half to turn a 21-14 halftime lead into a 28-point victory. The win improved Stadium’s record to 4-1 in 3A Pierce County League play and 5-2 overall, clinching at least the fourth seed in the league playoffs. Wilson fell to 1-4 in league play and 3-4 overall.
“Coach Ford came in a few years back, and he really came in and wanted to changed the program and make it into a winning program and set the tone,” Wendling said. “These seniors really bought into that, and here we are now.”
The game began in the midst of torrential rain, and both teams played to the conditions early with an emphasis on running the ball. After Stadium opened the night with a three-and-out, Wilson ran the ball on nine straight plays to total 51 yards. The Rams put the first points on the board on a 10-yard touchdown run by Aaron Medeiros midway through the first quarter.
Stadium responded with a lengthy drive of its own, covering 69 yards on eight plays before senior running back Jamon Chambers tied it up on a nine-yard scoring run. Chambers’ running paced Stadium in the first two quarters as he finished with 140 yards before leaving due to injury. The Tigers took the lead on the next drive on a 1-yard scoring scamper by Wendling, his first of two TD runs on the day.
Wendling followed that up with a 9-yard scoring throw to Max Novak to put Stadium up 21-7. Wilson responded with a 71-yard scoring drive on its next possession, as Medeiros connected with Michael Doss on a 12-yard touchdown pass to pull the Rams within seven at halftime.
Wilson opened the second half looking to drive for the tie, but with the Rams in the red zone, Stadium’s Nazje Briscoe intercepted Medeiros’ pass at the 3-yard line to end the threat. That began a run of three consecutive Wilson drives that ended in a turnover. Another red zone interception ended the Rams’ next possession, while a fumble near midfield again stalled Wilson’s offense. Instead of the Rams pulling even in the game, Stadium began to pull away.
“Our kids just wanted to make a play,” Ford said. “We talked about, hey, things are going to go wrong. They could drive deep; this offense is very talented and they have enough weapons. But at the end of the day, we’ve got to make a play. And those three turnovers were so huge for us, and I think it was definitely the difference in the ballgame.”
Wendling’s second touchdown run made it 28-14 late in the third quarter, and scoring runs by Briscoe and Trey Caldwell sealed the historic win for Stadium in the fourth quarter.
4A NPSL CASCADE
Kentwood 20, Kent-Meridian 14: Darius LuBom’s interception sealed the Conquerors win with 1:29 remaining.
It came after Jacob Cronn caught a 37-yard pass from Justin Seiber to break the tie with 3:09 remaining.
Kent-Meridian had tied the game when Jo McConico returned an interception 102 yards for a touchdown.
Kennedy Catholic 50, Tahoma 19: The Bears led 19-14 in the second quarter.
Then Lancers quarterback Ben Gaoteote started finding Jared Thurber. Thurber had six catches for 209 yards and four touchdowns to lift Kennedy (6-1) to its fourth consecutive victory.
Gaoteote was 11 of 22 passing for 291 yards and five touchdowns – and lost 20 passing yards when he caught one of his own passes.
4A NPSL OLYMPIC
Auburn Riverside 25, Enumclaw 19: O’Darious Shaw’s 11-yard touchdown run with 3:47 remaining gave the Ravens (4-3) the lead as they held on for their second consecutive victory.
The late TD came after Enumclaw (3-4) took a 19-17 lead early in the fourth quarter on Aaron Beaird’s two-yard TD run. Beaird finished with 20 carries for 108 yards and three touchdowns.
South Kitsap 57, Rogers 20: The Wolves got their first win of the season.
Izaiah Davis had 16 carries for 216 yards on the ground for South Kitsap (1-6) after the Wolves broke a 14-14 tie in the first quarter with 28 points in the second as Rogers fell to 0-7.
Lincoln 35, Spanaway Lake 10: The Abes earned their sixth consecutive win, shutting out the Sentinels in the second half to seal the victory.
Lincoln led 14-10 at halftime before taking off. Abes quarterback Joey Sinclair was 7 of 12 passing for 92 yards and two touchdowns while also rushing for 42 yards. Tristian Kwon had 13 rushes for 110 yards.
Peninsula 38, Central Kitsap 7: The Seahawks rushed for 188 yards and held the Cougars to 164 total yards as they pushed their record to 7-0 for the season.
Peninsula’s Deboraee McLain ran for three touchdowns. Quarterback Burke Griffin was 11 of 18 passing for 152 yards and two TDs as Central Kitsap (2-5) lost their fourth consecutive game.
Capital 20, Yelm 6: Christopher Schnellman scored two touchdowns — one a 28-yard catch and the other on a 20-yard catch — on passes thrown by Chris Penner and the Cougars beat the Tornados.
2A SPSL MOUNTAIN
Washington 28, Lindbergh 21: Quarterback Martin Mendiola rushed for three touchdowns, including the game-winning score on a 4-yard bootleg run with 5:24 to go as the Patriots won a key Mountain Division game at Franklin Pierce Stadium.
Linebacker Angel Meza picked off Lindbergh quarterback Sam Nehren on fourth down to end an Eagles’ threat with 1:13 remaining. The Franklin Pierce defense shut out Lindbergh in the second half.
No. 8 Franklin Pierce 49, Foster 24: Cardinals quarterback Willie Patterson passed for 199 yards, rushed for another 97 yards as Franklin Pierce pulled away in the second half for a Mountain Division win in Tukwila.
White River 27, Foss 14: Luke Northam tallied two touchdowns, and the Hornets won a Mountain Division game in Buckley.
Northam’s second score, a 2-yard touchdown run, early in the fourth quarter gave White River an 18-0 lead.
Fife 55, Evergreen 0: Jackson Cooley rushed for 11o yards and two long touchdowns, and the Trojans won a Mountain Division game easily at Highline Stadium in Burien.
Cooley scored on a 55-yard run in the first quarter, and a 50-yard right before halftime.
2A SPSL SOUND
No. 5 River Ridge 50, Clover Park 6: The Hawks rolled up 332 yards on the ground to wrap up the Sound Division title outright at Harry E. Lang Stadium in Lakewood.
Reserve tailback Maleko Mina led River Ridge with a career-high 164 yards on 25 carries, scoring two second-half touchdowns.
Linebacker Paddy Green led the Hawks’ defense effort with four tackles for loss.
Steilacoom 47, Highline 0: Anthony Garcia scored twice, including a touchdown on a 50-yard punt return in the second quarter, leading the Sentinels to a home Sound Division shutout triumph.
No. 6 Cascade Christian 13, Charles Wright Academy 0: Zack Bartolome was the workhorse on the Cougars’ final 94-yard scoring drive as Cascade Christian survived a defensive struggle in University Place.
Bartolome had all but one carry on the touchdown series. He capped it with a 1-yard plunge with six minutes remaining.
Eatonville 62, at Cedarcrest 51: Tristan Graf threw five touchdown passes, and Justin Brandt returned an interception 85 yards for a score as the Cruisers won in Duvall.
Staff contributed to this report