The Emerald Ridge High School football team is ready for next week’s state play-in game.
That’s the statement Emerald Ridge made Thursday as Brett Rankin caught five passes for 207 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Jaguars to a 38-15 win over Spanaway Lake.
Emerald Ridge (7-2, 6-0 4A SPSL South) completed its sweep of the South Puget Sound League South with the win and securing the school’s first ever league championship.
“It is the first time and it feels great,” Emerald Ridge co-coach Brian Anderson said. “They worked the way to the spot they’re in. Every year, this group has gotten better. They paid their dues.”
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Emerald Ridge already clinched at least a share of the South title entering Thursday’s night game at Art Crate Stadium. Spanaway Lake’s (3-6, 2-4) can still clinch the league’s fourth and final playoff spot if Bethel loses to Graham-Kapowsin and Rogers defeats Puyallup on Friday.
“Of course we’re in a rooting mode (now),” Spanaway Lake coach John Robak said. “(But) it would be nice to control our own destiny rather than put it somebody else’s hands.”
For Emerald Ridge, it just didn’t want to have to share the SPSL South title.
After Cody Anderson — who had 19 carries for 119 yards — put Emerald Ridge up 7-0 on its second drive of the game, the Jaguar’s hard-hitting defense got to work.
The Jaguars brought steady pressure, ensuring Spanaway Lake quarterback Ramon Gutierrez and the Sentinels offensive line couldn’t get comfortable.
Emerald Ridge showed blitz on Spanaway Lake’s first series of the second quarter and the result caused Gutierrez to fumble the snap and Jaguars linebacker Kaden Flanagan recovered in the end zone.
It was one of seven Emerald Ridge takeaways.
“We tell our guys that the second man needs to go for the strip,” Brian Anderson said. “If you’re not the first one there, go for the ball and take it from them.”
“We all played together all game and all year — it was a group effort,” Dustin Resnik said.
Resnik had arguably the biggest turnover on the night, intercepting Gutierrez in the end zone to give the ball back to Emerald Ridge late in the second quarter.
On the Jaguars first play of the new drive, quarterback Griffin Meyers found Brett Rankin for his first of two TD catches — this one from 52 yards out.
“I’ve doing it most of the year, working against the press and working guys over the top,” Rankin said. “Finally, I was able to get the opportunities this game, catching everything that comes to me, getting open and creating separation.”
Meyers threw three touchdown passes, finishing the game 11 of 20 for 239 yards.
Spanaway Lake put together its first scoring drive on its first drive in the third quarter with Caleb Wellons finishing it with an 18 yard cutback for a touchdown to cut into Emerald Ridge’s lead, 21-7.
“We’ve been played better from week to week,” Robak said. “We’ve clean some stuff up and some young guys were stepping up (for us).”
After Meyers found Wain Clarke and Rankin for touchdowns on back-to-back Jaguar drives, Gutierrez again tried to bring the Sentinels back into the game when he connected with Wellons on a wide open 19 yard touchdown pass that cut Emerald Ridge’s lead to 35-13.
Emerald Ridge finished off the win when Scott Horton intercepted Gutierrez in the fourth quarter.
“We all just try to make plays and win it as a team,” Resnik said.
SPSL NORTHWEST/NORTHEAST CROSSOVER
Tahoma 10, Jefferson 7: A blocked punt at the end of the third quarter set up the Bears’ go-ahead touchdown, and Tahoma clinched the SPSL North’s final district playoff spot at Federal Way’s Memorial Stadium.
After the big play, receiver Cole Peckham picked up a Tahoma fumble and returned it 10 yards for a touchdown with 18 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
The Raiders outgained Tahoma 336-164 but committed three turnovers. The Bears will play second-ranked Camas in the district round next week.
Wilson 27, at Central Kitsap 26: The Rams went 65 yards in less than a minute, capped by Xavier Martin-Jones’ fumble recovery in the end zone for the game-winning touchdown, and the Rams won at Silverdale Stadium.
The ball came loose after quarterback Julius Yates-Brown completed a 50-yard pass to Jordan Pugh, who let go of the ball. But Martin-Jones pounced on it immediately.
Central Kitsap had taken a 26-20 lead with 5:06 to go on Kaleb Bates’ 29-yard scoring pass to Kelsey Deer.
As the 3A Narrows’ No. 3 seed, the Rams will likely play Chief Sealth, the Metro League’s fourth seed, in next week’s district playoffs.