Puyallup High School senior running back Kyle Cramer has been a special player for the Vikings this season.
That was the sentiment coach Gary Jeffers shared after fifth-seeded Puyallup routed No. 12 seed Eastmont, 45-10, Friday night at Sparks Stadium in the opening round of the Class 4A state playoffs.
Cramer was the star in the Vikings’ rout, rushing for 238 yards and four touchdowns to carry Puyallup (11-1) to the quarterfinals.
“He’s special. There’s no doubt about it. His ball security and his passion running the ball is fun to watch,” Jeffers said.
Premium content for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
Cramer, senior quarterback Jacob Holcomb, and a talented corps of receivers have led Puyallup’s powerful offensive attack this season, and taken the Vikings a step further in the state playoffs this year, after a first-round exit against Monroe in 2017.
Holcomb — who was 13 of 14 passing for 135 yards and two total touchdowns against the Wildcats — has consistently rifled the ball through the air to a collection receivers, and Cramer has balanced the air attack as Puyallup’s workhorse in the backfield.
“When the holes are that big, anyone can run through. It doesn’t need to just be me,” Cramer said, crediting Puyallup’s offensive line for creating space.
From the first drive, Eastmont had no answer for Cramer, as he collected his game-high 238 yards on 25 carries.
“That’s kind of what they were giving up, was a run box, so we took advantage of that and stayed the course and it worked out,” Jeffers said.
Holcomb has commanded much of the offensive attention this season, entering Friday’s game completing 167 of 242 passes for 2,557 yards and 37 total touchdowns.
But, Cramer has been just as impressive on the ground, entering with 193 carries for 1,120 yards and 14 scores.
“I believe it’s 12 straight years we’ve played together,” Holcomb said. “From preschool to senior year — we’re brothers. Best friends you could say. Our camaraderie, our brotherhood, it’s unbreakable.”
Even the mistakes Puyallup’s offense made in the first half could not deter Cramer. A block in the back penalty wiped away a 63-yard run on Cramer’s first carry of the Vikings’ second drive. But, Puyallup was able to finish off the drive to take a 10-0 lead in the second quarter.
“We just take what we can get. Today they just had one linebacker in the box. A lot of runs can go right through there,” Cramer said. “Wide receivers didn’t get a lot of love tonight, but it is what it is.”
Eastmont (9-3) was able to respond with a drive behind their wing-T offense. The Wildcats drove deep into Puyallup territory before settling for a 32-yard field goal by Caelen Massey to cut the lead to 10-3.
That’s when Cramer and the Vikings began to run away with the win. Cramer gashed the Wildcats’ defense on six consecutive runs for 59 yards. He then capped off Puyallup’s drive with a 16-yard touchdown run off left tackle, giving the Vikings a 17-3 lead with 1:16 to go in the first half.
“You know, it’s really nice when you can hand off the ball to your running back and he gets you 238 yards and four touchdowns,” Holcomb said. “Obviously, shout out to our (offensive line). Kyle doesn’t get all those yards without them.”
Puyallup recovered a loose ball on the ensuing kickoff, only for Cramer to burst through the middle of Eastmont’s defense for a 32 yard touchdown — his second score in 28 seconds.
“That has nothing to do with me. That’s all the (offensive line) right there,” said Cramer, who entered the break with 137 yards on 15 carries. “I had nothing to do with that. Those guys worked so hard tonight. We did what we had to do and we got it done.”
It was more of the same from Cramer in the second half. He scored on Puyallup’s first two drives in the third, putting the Vikings up, 38-3, by the end of the quarter.
Holcomb finished off Puyallup’s scoring with a 16-yard run in the fourth before Jeffers removed his starters with nearly an entire quarter left to play.
“Our kids prepared well. Our defensive coordinator did a nice job preparing the kids, so we were real happy with that,” Jeffers said.
Puyallup will travel to play No. 4 seed Mount Si (10-1) — which mounted a 39-38 comeback win over Mount Vernon in Snoqualmie — in the quarterfinals next week.
NO. 12 EASTMONT
NO. 5 PUYALLUP
P – Cohen Cleek 4 pass from Jacob Holcomb (Carter Pierce kick)
P – Pierce 29 field goal
P – Kyle Cramer 16 run (Pierce kick)
P – Cramer 32 run (Pierce kick)
P – Cramer 5 run (Pierce kick)
P – Holcomb 16 run (Pierce kick)
E – Tanner Nelson 13 pass from Carson Everhart (Massey kick)
Passing: P – Holcomb 13-14-135.
Rushing: P – Cramer 25-238-4; Holcomb 6-46-1; Michael Wachowicz III 3-29; Kyle Johnson 4-26.
Receiving: P – Ethan Steward 3-45; Cramer 2-29; Justin Haase 2-23; Darius Morrison 2-17; Isaac Clark 1-15; Cleek 1-4; Johnson 1-2.