This was an unmatched season for the Stadium High School football team — one win away from the school’s first state playoff appearance and one week removed from what coach Thomas Ford said was the biggest win in school history.
Then there was Peninsula, a team that has been there, done that.
And now the Seahawks are heading to state for the fourth time in the past five years, playing ground-and-pound and defense to grind away at Stadium for a 44-21 victory on Friday at Roy Anderson Field in Purdy.
The Tigers took a big step this season. Ford said they’ll need another one to match Peninsula.
“Those guys are as disciplined of a team that exists at the 3A level,” Ford said. “It’s like I told them after the game, we want our program to emulate one like Peninsula.”
Peninsula (9-1) ran for 284 yards to Stadium’s 71, with Cameron Lewis, in his first full game since the season-opener against Mt. Spokane, gaining 109 yards on 21 carries with a touchdown.
Black Cantu added 12 carries for 84 yards and three touchdowns.
“O-line was blocking their tails off,” Cantu said. “They did a great job tonight. Running backs did their stuff, but O-line did great.”
Lewis sprained his MCL in the second week, when Peninsula beat Stadium in a nonleague game, 27-19.
Peninsula coach Ross Filkins said running back Kenny Easton was limited with an ankle injury suffered in the first quarter in Peninsula’s loss to Timberline last week. And Debore’ae McClain didn’t play Friday because of an injury.
Peninsula faces the winner of Saturday’s district playoff game between Bishop Blanchet and Mountain View next week.
“We should have all cylinders running next week,” Filkins said. “I think we’ll have everybody on the field for the first time all year next week.”
Peninsula scored on its first possession, ending a 14-play, 82-yard drive with Cantu’s first touchdown. The Seahawks did not throw a pass on the drive.
That set the tone for the rest of the game.
“Our offensive line played great,” Filkins said. “Our backs were banged up and they played really gritty tonight. That was some hometown Purdy grit right there.”
Stadium answered with a drive to Peninsula’s 15 the next possession, but then Braeden Potter picked off a pass and returned it 86 yards to set up a Seahawks field goal.
Stadium then fumbled on its next possession. Peninsula recovered and went 50 yards on nine plays before Cameron Lewis scored from 10 yards out.
“They were just so patient,” Ford said. “Three yards, two yards. … that’s the kind of team we want to emulate — to control the ball and run it like they did — that’s outstanding on their part. I’ll give credit where credit is due.”
Stadium quarterback Hunter Wendling completed 20 of 27 passes for 241 yards and two touchdowns, pushing his season total to almost 2,800 passing yards. Running back Jamon Chambers had 11 carries for 46 yards and caught two TD passes. He finishes the season with almost 1,600 rushing yards.
And the Tigers were in the postseason for the first time in more than 100 years.
“I told our seniors, this isn’t a sad day,” Ford said. “We’ve done something that no one has ever done. We’re literally the best team that’s played here in 100 years. That senior class has nothing to be ashamed of. They are catalysts for change, and this program isn’t going anywhere.”
Meanwhile, Peninsula is going back to the state playoffs in its 11th postseason appearance the past 12 years.
“We tell them that tradition is something they have to earn,” Filkins said. “Tonight, we wanted to throw (Stadium) in the meat grinder and grind them down and play gritty, and we earned it on every single play tonight.
“We did not cut any corners all week. Our coaches put a tremendous amount of time in, our players played an impeccable game, they carried out the game plan in all three phases. They did a fantastic job tonight.”
TJ Cotterill: 253-597-8677
P - Blake Cantu 7 run (Danny Jackson kick)
P - Jackson 38 FG
P - Caneron Lewis 10 run (Jackson kick)
S - Max Novak 17 pass from Hunter Wendling (kick failed)
P - Cantu 2 run (Jackson kick)
P - Jackson 24 FG
P - Cantu 4 run (Jackson kick)
S - Jamon Chambers 3 pass from Wendling (Ethan Saarenas kick)
P - Jackson 35 FG
P - Cameron Lewis 4 run (Jackson kick)
S - Chambers 17 pass from Wendling (Chambers from Wendling)
RUSHING — Stadium: Jamon Chambers 11-46; Hunter Wendling 10-25. Peninsula: Cameron Lewis 21-109; Blake Cantu 12-84; Braeden Potter 2-50; Kenny Easton 12-37.
PASSING — Stadium: Hunter Wendling 20-27-1-241. Peninsula: Burke Griffin 7-11-0-68.
RECEIVING — Ryan Naylor 6-77; Max Novak 7-74; Dylan Hartman 2-35; Xavier Mason 2-33; Jamon Chambers 2-20. Peninsula: Ryder Johnson 2-36; Jace Keim 2-25; Jack Filkins 1-12.