What others might fear, Lakes High School embraces.
It is a road trip in November.
In back-to-back seasons, the Lancers have opened the Class 3A state playoffs 225 miles away from home.
Last year, they knocked off touted Kamiakin. And on Saturday, they trounced Southridge, 34-17, at Lampson Stadium.
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Lakes (7-4) will now take on the school that ended its season in 2015 — two-time defending state champion Eastside Catholic — next weekend in the 3A quarterfinals in Sammamish.
But first, the Lancers had to take care of 1,000-yard rusher Zayid Al-Ghani and the Suns (7-5), who were in the state playoffs for the first time since 2011.
They had not had much success in the first round of the state playoffs in their history — 1-7.
Lakes looked like a team that had won many important games, driving 55 yards on its opening series to take a 7-0 lead on Melvin Miller’s 18-yard touchdown run after 3 minutes, 30 seconds.
The Lancers got the football right back, and marched 49 yards for another score. Again, it was Miller, who darted up the middle for a 8-yard touchdown, giving Lakes a 14-0 advantage.
“Boy, we came out on fire tonight,” Lakes coach Dave Miller said. “That first quarter was as good as I’ve seen a Lakes team (play) in a long time.”
And then the defense got involved in the scoring.
Facing a third-and-17 on the Suns’ next drive, quarterback Mason Martin rolled to his right and tried throwing back against his body to the middle of the field.
Lakes defensive back Dedrian Milligan saw the play unfold earlier than anybody, jumping the route and picking off the pass.
He sprinted untouched on an 18-yard interception return for a touchdown, and Lakes went up, 21-0.
“It was a flood pattern. (Martin) started scrambling, and I jumped (the route) as quick as I could,” Milligan said. “I took it back to the house. It pushed our momentum.”
Like last season, Lakes came over on the bus Friday. The team watched Richland, the No. 1 team in Class 4A, win its state playoff opener over Sunnyside.
And on Saturday, the Lancers looked ready. They played like it, too — especially the defense, which limited Al-Ghani to 69 yards on 28 carries.
“Travel seems to help them focus,” Dave Miller said of his players. “It helps them bond together.”
No. 6 Kamiakin 45, Gig Harbor 0: After the entire Tides staff watched film last week on Eastern Washington powerhouse Kamiakin, coach Aaron Chantler took a poll.
What opponent did the Braves resemble most around Pierce County?
The Tides assistants didn’t hesitate: The Braves look very much like the Gig Harbor squad of 2015.
Kamiakin scored on six of its first eight first-half drives and running back Jethro Questad rushed for 106 yards and two touchdowns in the first half alone.
Quarterback Zach Borisch pitched in with a pair of rushing scores as well. He completed 10 of 17 passes for 194 yards and a touchdown.
Kamiakin outgained the Tides, 340-16, in the first half in grabbing a 42-0 lead.
The entire second half was played under the WIAA running-clock “mercy rule.” The Braves will host Bonney Lake in the 3A quarterfinals next weekend.
“That is very good football team — it’s between them and Squalicum as far as the best team we’ve faced all year,” Tides coach Aaron Chantler said. “We were hoping to maybe get a stop or two early, and also get a score to keep it close. It didn’t work out that way.”
No. 9 Peninsula 17, No. 10 Mountain View 0: Blake Cantu scored two touchdowns in the second quarter and Danny Jackson added a 35-yard field goal in the fourth quarter as the Seahawks earned a trip to the 3A state quarterfinals for the fourth time in the past five years.
And this time their reward won’t be a matchup against Bellevue, instead getting Meadowdale next weekend.
Peninsula (10-1) got another dominant performance from its defense, which posted its third shutout of the season.
Mountain View’s best drive ended with a Peninsula fumble recovery in the end zone.
No. 6 Lake Stevens 35, Bellarmine Prep 28: Connor Bardue hit Jake Rasmussen for a 22-yard touchdown pass with 25 seconds remaining as the Vikings kept their undefeated run alive and ended Bellarmine’s season in the first round of the 4A state playoffs.
The Lions led this one, 28-21, with about four minutes remaining before Lake Stevens (11-0) got Blake May’s 43-yard touchdown run to tie it.
Staff contributed to this report.