The River Ridge Hawks didn’t win Saturday night in their Class 2A football opening-round state playoff game against three-time defending champion Lynden, but you’d never guess it by the raucous fan base that greeted the Hawks at Civic Stadium after the postgame handshake.
Lynden moved onto the quarterfinals with the 41-21 victory, but for River Ridge, the message moving forward is using this loss as motivation.
“This proves that River Ridge can be good,” senior Thayer Murphy said. “We haven’t done that well in the past. It just shows that River Ridge is in there. That’s going to be how it is for a long time, hopefully.”
“We have to build on this,” Hawks coach Steve Schultz said, “and we’re getting there.”
Schultz quickly gathered his players into the lockerroom postgame for an impassioned speech on a night where temperatures dipped to 31 degrees by game’s end.
The Hawks’ football program hasn’t played in this magnitude of a game since the Dale Chase-led 1998 team advanced to the state quarterfinals before losing to Cascade of Everett.
And yet, they entered Saturday’s game as an underdog with a “why not us?” mentality against a Class 2A state powerhouse program that’s won five of the last six state championships, including the past two against former 2A Evergreen Conference rival Tumwater.
But as Schultz was quick to point out: “They’re pretty freakin’ good.”
CLASS 4A FIRST ROUND
The Lions’ defense reeled in this one, sacking Camas quarterback Liam Fitzgerald seven times, and stopping the No. 2 Papermakers twice on fourth down in the fourth quarter — the last time near midfield with 3:41 to go.
Converting a fourth-and-inches play, Bellarmine Prep ran out the clock for a road victory, avenging its Class 4A semifinal defeat to the Papermakers last season.
Now it is a No. 1 Bothell-vs-Bellarmine Prep showdown for the fourth time in the past five seasons — all at Mount Tahoma Stadium. The Lions have won the three previous meetings, including 20-17 last season in the 4A quarterfinals.
“Holy smokes, not again? But here we go,” Bellarmine Prep coach Tom Larsen said. “I am so glad to see (Bothell coach) Tom (Bainter) again.”
It was especially bad in the first half. Beamer had 20 yards of offense and two first downs, and gave up a safety when it snapped the football out of the end zone in punt formation, giving Gonzaga Prep a 16-0 lead midway through the second quarter.
CLASS 3A FIRST ROUND
The Lions trailed 21-3 in the first quarter, but rallied behind backup quarterback Jason Sele, who threw a pair of touchdowns, and ran for another.
“He did a great job,” Auburn Mountaiview coach Jared Gervais said. “He played his heart out.”
His 49-yard scoring strike to Gavin Robertson with four minutes remaining in the first half gave Auburn Mountainview a 22-21 lead, but Rypien led 10th-ranked Shadle Park right back down the field, tossing a 26-yard touchdown, and the Lions were never heard from again.
Wilson was without six regulars, including defensive standouts Billy Greer and A.J. Ruffin. And linebacker David Shin came up hobbled in the first quarter.
Mount Spokane jumped out to a 20-0 lead on Roy Hyatt’s 33-yard scoring scamper late in the first quarter.
Wilson’s lone touchdown came on Julius Yates-Brown’s 70-yard pass to Keun Palu-Thompson in the second quarter.
CLASS 1A FIRST ROUND
Running back George Tomal rushed for 122 yards on seven carries, and added a pair of touchdown runs (22, 3), and scored on an 8-yard pass from Jake McCormick
Isaac Boettcher had a 70-yard punt return for a score, and Justin Kaelin — the Class 1A reigning discus champion — returned a kickoff 50 yards for a touchdown.
He clutched his knee.
Coach Randy Davis held his breath.
The top-ranked Cougars won the game, and got even better news afterward when they found out their senior leader had just bruised his knee after banging it against a defender’s helmet.
“I think he’ll be fine,” Davis said.
The Cougars took a 21-0 lead in the first quarter on Robert Terhune’s 1-yard touchdown run. Bryce Powers (27 yards) and Damon Davis (72 yards) each had interception returns for scores.