Jason Johnson rarely sits down during a match, but the coach of the Tahoma High School boys soccer team did just that in the Bears’ senior-night game Thursday against Kentlake. He was done coaching for the night.
He handed the reins of his nationally ranked team to a pair of injured seniors — Kyle DiDonato and Spencer Grant.
“And I said, ‘You guys go figure it out. Go have some fun,” Johnson said.
“They jumped right in. It was kind of funny because they were being kind of serious. They were trying to mimic me the whole time.”
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Tahoma won handedly, 8-2 — though the team allowed a goal in a game for just the third time this season — and improved to 15-0-0 overall, 12-0-0 in the 4A SPSL Northeast.
A win at Kentridge on Saturday — in which DiDonato and Grant are expected to go back to playing — will ensure the Bears an unbeaten season and their first league title since 2004. Tahoma is ranked No. 6 in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America national rankings and is No. 8 by Top Drawer Soccer.
“I was a little surprised because I think out of the entire group I’ve got one guy (senior forward Logan Wood) who is moving on to play college soccer,” Johnson said. “It’s a testament to the group.”
Wood is committed to Northwest Nazarene University, and he’s scored 16 goals and assisted on 12. Sophomore forward Cris Garfias is right behind him with 12 goals.
But you can’t key on one player with this team. Most of the seniors — including Wood, DiDonato and Grant — have played together since they were about four years old. It’s why Johnson feels so comfortable even letting them do his job, and why Tahoma has jumped from a team that was a win shy of the 4A state tournament last season to one of the 10 best teams in the nation.
“There is something about the way they communicate on the field,” Johnson said. “They don’t use a lot of words, and if they do half of us don’t even know what they are talking about because it’s their own language.”
KENTWOOD HIRES WSU STAR
Mike Bush was a standout football and basketball player at Washington State University. Coaching will be his calling now.
Bush was introduced to players of the Kentwood High School football team on Monday. He replaces Rex Norris, who resigned after 11 seasons.
It’s Bush’s first head-coaching job.
Bush has six years of experience as an assistant coach, including the past four as the wide receivers coach at Bothell, which won the 4A state title this past season.
“I don’t want to hire another coach and I think I have eight years left,” Kentwood athletic director Jo Anne Daughtry said. “Dave Lutes (who coached Kentwood from its inception in 1982 through 1989) had never been a head coach and Rex Norris had never been a head coach. I think people thought we would hire a head coach with some experience. But I don’t think that is necessary. This allows us to put some faith in Mike and for us to establish a new tradition at Kentwood without leaving the old one behind.”
Eight area football players are finalists for a pair of $1,500 scholarships because of their work on and off the football field.
The Tacoma-Pierce County Chapter of the National Football Federation and College Hall of Fame will announce the winners of a lineman award and a back award in a ceremony at 4 p.m. Sunday at Curtis High School. The awards take into account grades, athletic accomplishments and leadership among other things.
The four nominees for the backs award: Donald Walkinshaw (Graham-Kapowsin), Isaac Boettcher, (Eatonville), Micah Brown (Spanaway Lake), Mark Kriebel (Peninsula).
The four nominees for the lineman award: Luke Holsinger (Peninsula), Riley Miller (Bonney Lake), Troy Salisbury (Sumner), Kyrie Simmons (Lakes).
Wilson’s Violet “Kapri” Morrow signed to play for the Eastern Washington University women’s basketball team next year. Morrow scored 1,027 career points and grabbed 711 rebounds for the Rams. … Tahoma hired Pete DeBolt to coach its girls basketball team. DeBolt had been an assistant coach the past 16 years with stops at Kentlake, Auburn Mountainview and now Tahoma.