High School Sports

‘This is our time.’ Puyallup decisively wins valley battle over 4A SPSL rival Sumner

“Our field. Our valley. Our time.”

Those were the words etched across a giant piece of yellow paper that the Puyallup High School football team charged through Friday night.

And, from the first drive their high-powered offense stepped on the field, the eighth-ranked Vikings made it clear who the kings of the valley are again this season as they tore through 4A SPSL rival Sumner for a 37-7 win at Sparks Stadium.

“For us, it wasn’t a surprise. We expected this,” Puyallup quarterback Jacob Holcomb said. “We’re confident. We believe in ourselves. We believe in each other. We have that brotherhood. ... We did our jobs, we got the win and that’s all that matters.”

This is the second consecutive season Puyallup, the defending 4A SPSL champion, has come away with a win over the sixth-ranked Spartans. Last year’s win also had a lopsided score, 45-24, in the Vikings’ favor.

“This is our time,” Puyallup wide receiver Ethan Steward said. “We put in a lot of work.”

Did Vikings coach Gary Jeffers expect to win so emphatically, though, over a Sumner team that advanced to the 4A state semifinals last season? No, but he credits his team’s focus this week.

“We had a great week of practice. I think they understand that we’re in a three-game series right now,” he said, referring to upcoming games against top-ranked Graham-Kapowsin, another league rival, and a trip south to play second-ranked Union during the next two weeks.

“The rest of the season is important, too, but we kind of have Murderers’ Row here. They’re just trying to take it one week and a time, and deal with what they have in front of them.”

His Vikings (3-0) dealt with Sumner (2-1) quite well considering the Spartans hadn’t given up a point this season entering Friday’s game.

But, Holcomb methodically led Puyallup on an 82-yard scoring drive on its first possession, connecting with wide receiver Justin Haase for a 1-yard touchdown, and the Vikings never trailed.

Puyallup scored on three of its first four possessions, building a quick 21-0 lead, and piled up 536 yards of offense to consistently keep the Spartans out of reach.

“That’s not the start we wanted, for them to drive right down the field,” Sumner coach Keith Ross said. “They beat us with the big play tonight, and that’s what we had to stop.”

Holcomb finished 19 of 32 passing for 345 yards with one interception and four total touchdowns.

After hitting Haase for Puyallup’s opening score, he connected twice with Steward on touchdown passes of 78 and 60 yards. And he closed scoring for the Vikings in the fourth on a 7-yard keeper.

Steward, who had a pair of big touchdowns against Sumner in last season’s win, led the Vikings with 147 receiving yards on three catches. Each of his scoring plays Friday seemed to deflate Sumner’s sideline more.

“His first game that he played for us last year he had two kickoff returns for touchdowns,” Jeffers said. “That really kind of set the tone of that game. Obviously, he comes out here (tonight) and does some phenomenal things.”

Darius Morrison (three catches, 73 yards), Cohen Cleek (six catches, 53 yards) and Haase (six catches, 67 yards) each added to Puyallup’s air attack, while workhorse running back Kyle Cramer (30 carries, 120 yards, TD) chewed up much of the clock in the second half.

“It’s our guys playing all three phases of the game,” Jeffers said. “I can’t say enough about our defense. They came out and did a great job, and put us in great filed position, and our kids on offense exectued.”

Puyallup’s defense allowed the Spartans just 102 yards of offense — and most of that came on a 38-yard pass from Austin Grondahl to Devon Murray on Sumner’s first play of the second half.

That drive and one other resulted in a turnover on downs. Sumner’s other seven drives ended in punts, and the Spartans managed just three first downs.

“Puyallup is a good football team,” Ross said. “They’re actually better than we thought. They’re physical up front. We knew they had skilled kids, but they’re a good football team. I give them a lot of credit.

“I was surprised. I thought we’d be able to move the ball. I thought we’d be able to run the ball. I don’t know if it was a scheme thing, or we just didn’t execute or if they wanted it more than us.”

Sumner’s one bright spot of the evening came on a special teams play when Donovan Clark returned a kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter.

That seemed to give the Spartans some momentum, but a lightning strike caused a 30-minute delay during the second quarter, and Puyallup scored on a 26-yard Carter Pierce field goal to push the Vikings’ lead to 24-7 at the break.

Puyallup travels to play top-ranked Graham-Kapowsin (3-0) in another showdown of 4A SPSL powers next week. UW commit Dylan Morris threw for five touchdowns Thursday night in the Eagles’ win over Emerald Ridge.

“We’re going to rest up, get healthy, and be ready to go,” Holcomb said. “We’re going to watch a lot of film and get our game plan ready. We’ll be ready.”

Sumner hosts a Curtis (3-0) team looking to play spoiler in the league.

“Our season obviously isn’t over,” Ross said. “Last year, we lost two and then won eight in a row. So, it just depends what happens in that locker room, and what happens on Monday.

“I still think we’re a good football team. I think we got beat tonight by a team that wanted it more than us.”

Lauren Smith: 360-754-5473, @smithlm12

NO. 6 SUMNER 0 7 0 0_7

NO. 8 PUYALLUP 14 10 6 7_37

P - Justin Haase 1 pass from Jacob Holcomb (Carter Pierce kick)

P - Kyle Cramer 1 run (Pierce kick)

P - Ethan Steward 78 pass from Holcomb (Pierce kick)

S - Donovan Clark 93 kick (Colton Sigafoos kick)

P - Pierce 26 field goal

P - Steward 60 pass from Holcomb (kick failed)

P - Holcomb 7 run (Pierce kick)


Passing: S - Austin Grondahl 1-9-0-38. P - Jacob Holcomb 19-32-1-345.

Rushing: S - Dred Wilder 8-24; Ra’Sun Williams 6-20; Camden Russell 2-10; Bryan Falk 2-7; Austin Grondahl 5-3. P - Kyle Cramer 30-120; Jacob Holcomb 11-36; Kyler Johnson 7-27; Ethan Steward 3-7; Justin Haase 1-1.

Receiving: S - Devon Murray 1-38. P - Ethan Steward 3-147; Darius Morrison 3-73; Justin Haase 6-67; Cohen Cleek 6-53; Kyle Cramer 1-5.