Bonney Lake head coach Jason Sillbaugh knew that Kamiakin could give his team problems.
“We knew,” Sillbaugh said, “that they’d be tough up front.”
Running daylight was scarce and the airways harsh for Bonney Lake in a 37-10 loss to Kamiakin in a Class 3A state quarterfinal Saturday at Lampson Stadium.
The Braves (10-2) controlled the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball to advance to their first semifinal since 2011 and end the relentless Panthers’ bid for a first semifinal trip in program history.
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“We were expecting them to be a little better than anyone else we’ve seen this year,” said Bonney Lake senior lineman Caleb Davis, the 3A Pierce County most valuable player. “They lived up to it.”
The methodical rushing attack by the Panthers (7-5) wasn’t shut down, just slowed enough to stall drives and force an atypical — and uncomfortable — diet of passing.
Adam Fahsel (27 carries, 86 yards) and Jason Day (12 carries, 67 yards) kept grinding, but the scoreboard, game clock and Kamiakin’s penchant for sudden, big strikes forced Bonney Lake quarterback Kaiden Hammond to attempt 25 passes.
With Kamiakin defensive tackles Hayden Larson and Tristan Barnett constantly collapsing the middle and blitzers slashing the pocket to shreds, Hammond had to take chances. He was sacked three times, completed eight passes and was intercepted three times.
Braves cornerback Benson Smith returned one of the picks 62 yards for a second-quarter touchdown that made it 24-3. Colten Chelin returned another interception to the Bonney Lake 5, setting up Kamiakin’s final touchdown late in the fourth quarter.
“We did some great things, but as it often does in the playoffs, this came down to a few inches, a few bounces of the ball,” Sillbaugh said. “You can’t get away with inconsistency in the playoffs.”
Kamiakin quarterback Zach Borisch threw two touchdown passes and rushed for two scores. His 31-yard scoring scramble capped the Braves’ opening drive, and a 15-yard touchdown pass to Isaiah Brimmer made it 14-0 just before the first quarter ended. The teams swapped field goals before Smith’s interception return.
Borisch (13 of 21 passing, 157 yards; eight carries, 58 yards) connected with Jethro Questad on a 24-yard touchdown pass midway through the third quarter to make it 30-3. Borisch added a 1-yard scoring run before Bonney Lake finally visited the end zone, Day powering in from the 5 with 5:35 left in the game.
“We never gave up, even though we were down the whole game,” said Davis. “When I moved here (from Boise) freshman year, I didn’t know what to expect. But coach knew that our senior class would elevate Bonney Lake football.
“We’re actually out there,” he added. “Bonney Lake is a team that can bring it.”