This trip to the Class 2B football state title game — Napavine High School’s third in the past three years — ended more to Wyatt Stanley’s liking.
Stanley, Napavine’s dual-threat senior quarterback, accounted for four touchdowns — two passing, two rushing — as the top-ranked Tigers rolled past sixth-ranked Liberty of Spangle, 34-16, on Friday at the Tacoma Dome.
“It’s the best feeling in the world,” said Stanley, who has led the Tigers to the state playoffs each of the past four years.
“Last year, we came up short. We were leading in the fourth quarter. This year, we were up 18 with six minutes left and still worried sick. So, to be able to get it done this year, there’s no better feeling.”
The Tigers (14-0) — the top-ranked 2B team the duration of the season — started to pull away early in the second half when Stanley plowed into the end zone for a 4-yard score on Napavine’s opening drive. The extra point made it 21-10.
After the Tigers forced Liberty to turn the ball over on downs on the ensuing possession, it was again Stanley who capped a short drive by falling backward into the end zone for a 7-yard TD run.
“We’ve always got a chance when Wyatt’s got the ball,” Napavine coach Josh Fay said. “He makes stuff happen.”
Stanley finished with 17 carries for 39 yards and the two rushing TDs. He was 15 of 27 passing for 163 yards and two TDs.
“I think being here the last two years helped us so much,” Stanley said. “We know what the Dome is like, we know how to prepare. We knew the routine of the Dome, so I think it benefited us big time.”
Stanley’s 13-yard pass to Sam Fagerness with 3:14 to go in the first quarter gave Napavine a 7-3 lead it never lost. His 8-yard toss to Jordan Purvis with 5:57 to go in the game gave the Tigers their final 34-16 advantage.
Cole Vanwyck added a 20-yard score for Napavine in the second quarter, but the Lancers cut the lead to 14-10 at halftime when Garrett Rogers hit Chase Burnham for a 22-yard TD.
Rogers found Josh Larsen-Nowland for a 27-yard TD with 1:37 remaining in the third to make it 27-16, but Napavine scored on the following drive, when two penalties on the Lancers resulted in consecutive crucial fourth-and-5 conversions.
The Tigers eventually scored on Purvis’ 8-yard reception.
Rogers finished 15 of 18 passing — including 15 consecutive completions — for 184 yards and the two TDs for the Lancers.
This was Napavine’s first state title win since 2008 and third in the program’s history. Fay said there is a level of satisfaction with this win after losing at this juncture the past two seasons.
“We’ve been here enough,” he said. “It’s about time we got one.”
Stanley was asked after the game whether he was glad he wasn’t playing Okanogan — the team that narrowly knocked out the Tigers the past two seasons.
“I’m just glad I’m a state champ,” he said with a smile.
Liberty 3 7 6 0_16
Napavine 7 7 13 7_34
L – Van Slyke 22 field goal
N – Sam Fagerness 13 pass from Wyatt Stanley (Austin Filley kick)
N – Cole Vanwyck 20 run (Filley kick)
L – Chase Burnham 22 pass from Garrett Rogers (Van Slyke kick)
N – Stanley 4 run (Filley kick)
N – Stanley 7 run (Kick failed)
L – Josh Larsen-Nowland 27 pass from Rogers (Kick failed)
N – Jordan Purvis 8 pass from Stanley (Filley kick)