If Napavine High School was familiar with what Kalama wanted to do on offense on Friday night in the Class 2B state championship game in the Tacoma Dome, it sure didn’t show.
Despite the two teams playing in the 2B Central League together, and already meeting once earlier this season, second-seeded Kalama kept fourth-seeded Napavine guessing all night.
Whether it was the 77-yard end around run with wide receiver Brennon Vance in the second quarter, quarterback keepers from Alex Dyer, inside zone runs, or deep shots down the field, the Chinooks (12-2) seemed to always be one step ahead.
It all added up to a 34-25 win for the Chinooks and Kalama’s second consecutive state title.
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“We talked about that all week,” Kalama coach Sean McDonald said. “No one in the area has done that. I’m super proud of these guys. This is my first freshman class I’ve had all four years with. The leadership of this group, and everything they did right, I just couldn’t be more proud of this group.”
Senior quarterback Alex Dyer completed 19 of 32 passes for 317 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. Vance rushed five times for 123 yards and a touchdown, including the 77-yard score down the left sideline, while adding 52 yards and a touchdown on three receptions. Max Ross caught five passes for 79 yards and two touchdowns, while Randal Keithley hauled in five receptions for 115 yards.
“That’s been our game plan all year, to just keep the defense on their heels,” Dyer said. “They don’t know what’s coming on the inside zones, the end arounds, and we’ll try to chip away at them in the pass game. Every once in a while, we’ll take shots. We try to keep the defense off balance.”
Of course, it helps having Dyer, the reigning 2B state player of the year.
“Our quarterback is a stud,” McDonald said. “When you surround him with good players who can catch the ball, good things happen. We had a great game plan and just really connected on some great plays.”
Napavine (11-3) closed the gap just before the break, when quarterback Dawson Stanley connected with Ben Woodrum for a 38-yard score, cutting the lead to 20-13 at halftime.
For the Tigers, Stanley finished 9 of 26 for 173 yards, four touchdowns and one interception. He also rushed 20 times for 87 yards, and set a 2B state championship record for longest punt, with a 64-yard boot in the second quarter.
But Kalama came out firing in the second half, forcing a Napavine punt on the opening drive, and then scoring twice in the third quarter to take a 34-13 lead heading into the final frame, and kept the game out of reach for the Tigers.
“Momentum is everything in football,” McDonald said. “We talked about it at halftime, you have to go out, get a stop and then go down and go score. I think that was the difference in the game. We had some things that didn’t go our way, but we battled through adversity. That’s what we talked about all season.”
Kalama converted nine of 15 third downs. Whenever Napavine looked ready to make a stop, the Chinooks had an answer.
“It comes back to that quarterback,” McDonald said. “When you have a guy who can scramble like that, extend plays, you’re going to make plays on third down. That’s what we did.”
Now, the Chinooks are back-to-back state champs.
“It’s indescribable,” Dyer said. “Literally the best thing I can think of as a high school athlete is going to the state championship, and we got to do it twice.”
NO. 2 KALAMA
NO. 4 NAPAVINE
K – Bradley O’Neil 5 run (Logan Jones kick)
N – Laythan Demarest 47 pass from Dawson Stanley (Demarest kick)
K – Max Ross 29 pass from Alex Dyer (Jones kick)
K – Brennon Vance 77 run (kick failed)
N – Ben Woodrum 38 pass from Stanley (run failed)
K – Vance 21 pass from Dyer (kick failed)
K – Ross 25 pass from Dyer (Dyer run)
N – Jared McCollum 61 pass from Stanley (kick failed)
N – Cade Evander 3 pass from Stanley (run failed)
Passing: K – Dyer 19-32-2-317. N – Stanley 9-26-1-173.
Rushing: K – Vance 5-120; O’Neil 6-25; Eli Haynes 4-13; Dyer 9-10. N – Stanley 20-87; Demarest 1-7; Seth Butler 1-(-1).
Receiving: K – Randal Keithley 5-115; Ross 5-79; Vance 3-52; Grant Vandenberg 3-47. N – McCollum 1-61; Demarest 2-53; Woodrum 2-52; Butler 3-4.