This Auburn Riverside High School football team was put together with duct tape and WD-40.
A running back turned quarterback. A basketball player turned receiver. A senior tackle who had never played before this year.
Oh, and two seasons ago the Ravens were coming off their second consecutive 1-9 season.
But all those lumps led to this season. The eighth-ranked Ravens improved to 5-0 with a 49-14 4A North Puget Sound League Olympic win against previously undefeated Todd Beamer on Friday at Auburn Memorial Stadium, handing the Titans their first league loss since 2015.
“We knew it was coming,” Auburn Riverside senior quarterback Tiano Malietufa said. “We just kept our heads down, stayed humble and waited for our comings to come.”
Malietufa was a running back in middle school.
Now he’s a three-year starting left-handed quarterback, who in Friday’s win completed 5-of-7 passes for 204 yards and three touchdowns and ran for another 111 yards on 14 carries.
When his throws were errant in the first quarter, that helped Beamer hold a 7-0 lead. When he got going, it was a big reason the Ravens scored 42 unanswered points.
“Last year, I would have said he’s a running back playing quarterback,” said Auburn Riverside coach Bryant Thomas, the former Washington State University wide receiver and defensive back. “Actually, a fullback playing quarterback.
“But he can throw. His passing game has made it so we can do what we do. As you can see, in the second half we blew the game open.”
Sam Braboy ran for 114 yards on 14 carries as Auburn Riverside gained 338 yards to Beamer’s 66 on the ground.
Braboy’s first TD run from 20 yards out tied the game in the second quarter. Then Javon Forward ran for a 13-yard TD set up by a 31-yard pass to Jaden Robinson, who put a defender on skates with a juke move.
Malietufa then hooked up with Robinson again on a hook-and-go route that got the speedy receiver wide open for a 60-yard TD and 21-7 lead with just over three minutes until halftime.
Robinson was a basketball player. He didn’t play football until his sophomore year when he was persuaded to by offensive coordinator Marcus Yzaguirre, who also got Robinson to run track, where he palced sixth at the state championships in the 100-meter dash last year in 10.74 seconds.
Robinson also caught a 35-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter.
“We talked him into coming out and got him doing track and now you’re seeing the work paying off,” Thomas said. “You got a kid getting looked at by Pac-12 schools and he’s a Pac-12 athlete and he’s playing like one now.”
“We just hang out all of the time,” Malietufa said. “It’s easy with Cade (Stober, who caught a 72-yard TD pass), Isaiah (Prescott, who ran for a 1-yard TD and committed to Air Force earlier this week) and Jaden. I’ve been with them literally every day the past two years and all we do is throw.”
And Auburn Riverside’ offensive and defensive lines were punishing. Aaron Moffitt is a 6-foot-7, 305-pound senior offensive tackle who never played before this season. Then there’s 6-foot-4 junior defensive end Justus Legg, who has multiple D1 scholarship offers despite missing most of last year with an ankle injury, and 5-foot-11, 285-pound Trendae Umi-Tuato’o starts both ways and ran for a 3-yard TD.
It reminded Beamer coach Darren McKay of what his teams usually do.
“I just think they got their guys on us,” McKay said. “I saw a couple of times where our defensive linemen were nine, 10 yards down field. We didn’t tackle very well, either, and part of that is they are so downhill and do a really good job with their ball fakes.
And then Malietufa connected vertically in the passing game when Beamer did sell out on the run.
“But you have to pack the box because they run so well,” McKay said. “I thought those were low-percentage throws and they hit three of them. We thought it maybe would be one.”
But that’s the difference for these Ravens. And it’s a season that was worth the wait.
Auburn Riverside was 7-3 when in Thomas’s first year before winning just two games combined the next two years and going 6-4 last year.
“It was hard,” Thomas said. “It was really hard. Not just on me, but on the entire staff. That’s when the wolves started to come out. But we said we would stick to the plan, continue to treat the kids the way they need to be treated, do what we know is right and work our butts off to become better teachers. We’ve stuck with it, and faith has paid off.”
TJ Cotterill: 253-597-8677
NO. 8 AUBURN RIVERSIDE
TB – Alex Rogers 23 pass from Brandon Niksich (Blake Stafford kick)
AR – Sam Braboy 20 run (Griffin Cummins kick)
AR – Javon Forward 13 run (Cummins kick)
AR – Jaden Robinson 60 pass from Tiano Malietufa (Cummins kick)
AR – Trendae Umi-Tuato’o 3 run (Cummins kick)
AR – Robinson 35 pass from Malietufa (Cummins kick)
AR – Cade Stober 72 pass from Malietufa (Cummins kick)
TB – Colin McKay 45 pass from Niksich
AR – Isaiah Prescott 1 run (Cummins kick)
RUSHING – Todd Beamer: Colin McKay 10-26, Kuma Scanlan 9-23, Xavier Watson 9-18. Auburn Riverside: Sam Braboy 14-114, Tiano Malietufa 14-111, Javon Forward 4-38, Isaiah Prescott 5-29, Trendae Umi-Tuato’o 1-3.
PASSING – Todd Beamer: Brandon Niksich 10-21-1-183. Auburn Riverside: Tiano Malietufa
RECEIVING – Todd Beamer: Colin McKay 5-113, Alex Rogers 5-70. Auburn Riverside: Jaden Robinson 4-132, Cade Stober 1-72.