An upset deep in Thurston County shook up the Class 3A South Sound Conference, three local teams — all of which play in 2A — remain undefeated, and a freshman kicker nailed a 49-yard field goal.
Here are five takeaways from the sixth week of high school football in the South Sound.
1. Yelm gets a signature win, shakes up 3A SSC
Forget the seemingly annual two-way battle between Timberline and Peninsula for the 3A SSC title. Yelm wants a shot at it this year.
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Friday night, the Tornados (5-2) interrupted seventh-ranked Peninusla’s bid to dethrone two-time defending league champion Timberline and win an undefeated title, with a 42-21 upset victory at home.
“It’s a game-changer for the program,” Yelm coach Jason Ronquillo said. “(This is) one of (those) statement wins, one of those hurdles that the program is trying to get over. If you want to be the best, you have to beat the best.”
Peninsula (5-2) upended Timberline (5-2) two weeks ago to enter Friday as the only remaining team without a league loss.
But, Yelm scored three unanswered touchdowns late in the second half on a 26-yard run by Carson Amendt, a 16-yard connection between quarterback Kyle Robinson and Austen Osso, and a 15-yard Robinson run to shock the Seahawks.
“We’re still climbing,” Ronquillo said. “But that’s our goal, to get to the top.”
With two regular season games remaining, Peninsula, Timberline and Yelm are in a three-way tie for first, with the Blazers and Tornados set to meet in Yelm for the Week 9 finale.
2. Merry-go-round continues in local 4A leagues
Get your calculator ready, because there will be some tiebreakers to be worked out before the the regular season wraps up.
In the 4A NPSL Mountain, the league’s top tier, Todd Beamer (5-2) forced a three-way tie for first place with a 27-23 win over eighth-ranked Enumclaw (6-1) on Friday night at Pete’s Pool, and handed the Hornets their first loss.
“They jumped on us, and we were able to come back,” Beamer coach Darren McKay said. “The last two league championships — we won it two years ago, (Enumclaw) won it last year. Now we’re all in a three-way tie. Fun atmosphere tonight.”
Those two programs, and Kennedy Catholic (5-2), each have one loss in division play with one week remaining. Enumclaw has a win over Kennedy, Kennedy has a win over Beamer, and Beamer now has the win over Enumclaw.
If each of these teams wins next week — all three play teams with losing records — a point differential system will be used to break the ties and seed Week 9 crossover games with the rest of the league.
Enumclaw has a plus-5 point differential against Beamer and Kennedy (80 points scored, 75 allowed), and can clinch the division title with a win over Tahoma (3-4) next week.
Beamer has an even point differential (72 points scored, 72 allowed), while Kennedy has a minus-5 differential (97 points scored, 102 allowed). But, if Enumclaw wins the division, the next two seeds will be decided by head-to-head competition, giving Kennedy the No. 2 seed, and Beamer the No. 3.
Each of the six 4A NPSL Mountain teams — including Kentwood, Tahoma and Auburn Riverside — are guaranteed a spot in the Week 9 crossover games, along with four from the middle-tier 4A NPSL Valley, and two from the bottom-tier 4A NPSL Sound.
Hazen (5-2) locked up the Valley title with a win over Federal Way on Thursday night, while Kentridge (6-1) has sewed up the Sound title.
Further south in the 4A SPSL, which is widely considered the toughest 4A league in the state, five teams will duke it out for four playoffs spots in the final two weeks of the regular season.
Fourth-ranked Puyallup (6-1), the defending 4A SPSL champion, remains in control of the league after posting its second consecutive shutout this week. The Vikings became the sixth team to blank South Kitsap this season, with a 48-0 win on the road.
Fifth-ranked Graham-Kapowsin (6-1) edged Curtis, 27-26, to remain in a tie for second with Rogers (5-2), which eked out a 35-31 win over Bellarmine Prep. Curtis (5-2) and Sumner (5-2) are locked in a tie for fourth.
3. No. 3 Steilacoom still hasn’t lost, and has clinched the 2A SPSL Sound’s top seed
The only unbeaten team in Pierce County entering this week is still unbeaten. Third-ranked Steilacoom (7-0) clinched at least a share the 2A SPSL Sound title with an emphatic 49-21 win over Eatonville on Friday night.
Steilacoom also sewed up the division’s top seed with the win, as it owns all potential tiebreakers. A win against Clover Park (3-4) at home in Week 8 can seal Steilacoom’s second consecutive undefeated division title.
Each of the Sentinels’ seven wins this season have been by a margin of two or more possessions. Their closest win was a 27-14 victory over Lake Washington in Week 1, and that is the only game this season in which Steilacoom has scored less than six touchdowns.
Against Eatonville, sophomore phenom Emeka Egbuka — who recently added Division I offers from Arizona, Florida and WSU — hauled in four touchdown passes of 36, 44, 16 and 23 yards from reigning division MVP J.J. Lemming.
Egbuka finished with nine catches for 161 yards, while Lemming was 21 of 33 for 326 yards and the four scores.
4. Pioneer Bowl will feature the only two undefeated teams in Thurston County
Next week is a big one for rivalry games in the South Sound, and perhaps none is bigger than the annual Pioneer Bowl at Tumwater District Stadium.
For the second time since 2015, the game that features crosstown rivals Tumwater and Black Hills will be a battle of undefeated teams. It will also decide the 2A Evergreen Conference title.
The second-ranked T-Birds (7-0) haven’t lost a league game since 2009, have won the past eight meetings with the eight-ranked Wolves (7-0), and have a 16-3 advantage in the all-time series.
Last season, Tumwater, which was the eventual 2A state runner-up, rushed for 425 yards in the annual rivalry game, and shut out Black Hills in the final three quarters to run away with a 45-7 win.
Elsewhere in Thurston County, North Thurston (2-5) and Timberline will meet at South Sound Stadium for the 54th playing of the county’s oldest rivalry game. The Blazers have won five of the past six meetings, but the Rams still hold the series lead, 28-25.
The annual Fish Bowl, which features Peninsula and Gig Harbor, is also next week. The Seahawks need a win to remain in the running for a 3A SSC title after Friday’s loss at Yelm, and the Tides (3-4) need a win to keep their playoff hopes alive.
5. Sumner’s freshman kicker shows off range
Sumner’s Wyatt Redding had a big week. He was voted the freshman class president, and then he booted a 49-yard field goal in a 65-0 blowout win over Emerald Ridge on Friday night at Sunset Chev Stadium.
“It was a 49-yarder, and we thought, let’s give him a chance,” Sumner coach Keith Ross said, noting the Spartans wanted to see what Wyatt’s range could be in potential game-winning situations.
“We thought it would be good from 54.”
This is the third long field goal the 5-foot-11, 155-pound freshman kicker has made this season. He’s also connected from 46 and 34 yards.
“We knew he could kick,” Ross said. “I’ve seen videos of him kicking 50-plus (field goals) in youth football. ... It was amazing, but I wasn’t surprised.”
Elsewhere, Enumclaw’s Fulton Gunderson had a big night with his leg. The junior connected for three field goals from 27, 34 and 29 yards in the loss to Beamer.