Many assumed Timberline High School or seventh-ranked Peninsula would win the Class 3A South Sound Conference this year. After all, Timberline has won it the past two years, and Peninsula had been the only serious challenger to the Blazers during that time.
But Yelm? They weren’t talked about much.
“Everyone was doubting us,” Yelm running back Carson Amendt said. “They thought we were little dogs.”
But after Yelm knocked off visiting league-leading Peninsula on Friday night, 42-21, there’s no more doubting the Tornados. The bite, it seems, is on par with the bark.
“This is huge,” Yelm quarterback Kyle Robinson said. “I think this is going to propel us in the right direction, where we want to go. We want to be league champions.”
Now, Yelm (5-2) has as good a chance as any team in the league to fulfill that goal. Peninsula (5-2) entered the game as the last remaining team without a league loss. Timberline (5-2) also has just one league loss to Peninsula, after beating Capital at South Sound Stadium in Lacey.
While Timberline and Peninsula have been the league’s top teams since the 3A SSC formed in 2016, Yelm has been a tough, scrappy out. This year, the pieces are coming together.
“It’s a game changer for the program,” Yelm coach Jason Ronquillo said. “These are one of these 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. It’s a milestone we’re trying to take with Yelm. I think that’s one milestone that’s been accomplished.”
It was a back-and-forth game all evening between two of the league’s top teams.
Peninsula got on the board first, when quarterback Burke Griffin connected with receiver Jude Endsley for a 36-yard score. Yelm quarterback Kyle Robinson answered later in the first quarter, scoring on a 12-yard rush.
Amendt added a 2-yard run in the second quarter to give Yelm a 14-7 halftime lead.
Griffin finished 10 of 27 passing for 125 yards and a touchdown, and rushed 18 times for 91 yards and a touchdown. Potter rushed 11 times for 54 yards and a touchdown for the Seahawks.
The scoring heated up more in the second half, with the teams trading touchdowns in the third quarter.
Griffin scored first on a 6-yard run. Yelm answered with an Amendt 42-yard rushing touchdown, and Peninsula responded with a 1-yard touchdown run from running back Braeden Potter. The Tornados closed the scoring in the third quarter with another touchdown rush from Amendt, this time for 26 yards.
Down a touchdown, Griffin scampered for a 54-yard rushing touchdown, which would have tied the game early in the fourth quarter, but it was called back on a personal foul call on the Seahawks for illegal blocking.
“That was a pivotal play in the game,” Peninsula coach Ross Filkins said. “Yelm has a great group of seniors. They play really well together. They’re balanced on offense, they’re tough on defense and they get after you. Coming down here and playing them is its own adventure. They do a really good job.”
Yelm scored twice more in the fourth quarter. Robinson connected with receiver Austen Osso for a 16-yard touchdown, and then Robinson scored on a 15-yard keeper to seal the win.
The win was vintage Yelm — physical football, buoyed by a strong offensive line, that got stronger as the game went on. The line, led by 6-foot-6, 290-pound senior left tackle Jacob Dimond, paved the way for Amendt to rack up three rushing touchdowns and Robinson to add two scores on the ground.
“The left side, they’re really big, with Dimond, Doug Thompson — they’re the biggest in the league,” Robinson said. “And on the right side, they have really good footwork, so it’s a good combination together.”
The season isn’t over yet, and one that’s clear, to this point, is that almost any team in the 3A SSC can beat any other team on any given week.
But, for Yelm, it was a signature win nonetheless.
“Every year is a stepping stone for us,” Ronquillo said. “We’re not there yet. We’re still growing, still trying to get to the top. We’re still climbing. But that’s our goal, to get to the top.”
NO. 7 PENINSULA
P – Jude Endsley 36 pass from Burke Griffin (Ben Hagman kick)
Y – Kyle Robinson 12 run (Cody Frye kick)
Y – Carson Amendt 2 run (Frye kick)
P – Griffin 6 run (Hagman kick)
Y – Amendt 42 run (Frye kick)
P – Braeden Potter 1 run (Hagman kick)
Y – Amendt 26 run (Frye kick)
Y – Austen Osso 16 pass from Robinson (Frye kick)
Y – Robinson 15 run (Frye kick)