High School Sports

Steilacoom no match for defending 4A state champion Union in lopsided defeat

Steilacoom’s Emeka Egbuka discusses loss to 4A Union

Steilacoom’s Emeka Egbuka discusses team’s loss to 4A defending state champion Union and his 34-yard punt return touchdown.
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Steilacoom’s Emeka Egbuka discusses team’s loss to 4A defending state champion Union and his 34-yard punt return touchdown.

A lightning delay may have slowed Thursday night’s game between visiting Union and host Steilacoom by close to two hours on Thursday night at Harry Lang Stadium, but it certainly didn’t slow the Titans’ offense down.

The defending 4A state champions dominated the game from start to finish, outclassing the 2A Sentinels and coming away with a 41-13 road win that ended just after 11 p.m.

“They’re a good team over there,” said Steilacoom five-star wide receiver recruit Emeka Egbuka. “They’re deep, they won the championship last year. … It’s just humbling. We know we’re a good squad and any given day, we’ll be able to hang with them. We just have to keep our heads high and keep working.”

Steilacoom struggled early to get off the field, with Union converting a third-and-17 and a fourth-and-10 to jump out to an early lead.

“From a talent perspective and knowing what they have and how deep they are, this wasn’t a game we were going to win unless we made those plays, or even compete in unless we did,” said Steilacoom coach Colby Davies. “They did a really good job of converting in some tough situations, so credit to them and their play calling. We didn’t make plays when we needed to. It wasn’t for a lack of effort, we just have to execute a little better.”

It was the same story much of the night. Whenever Steilacoom needed a break, the Sentinels didn’t get one.

“All game long, we knew we just needed one or two big plays to keep us in it,” Egbuka said. “Those plays never really happened in the times we needed them to. But it’s nothing we can’t fix. We’ll get to the drawing board on Monday and ready to come back from Lynden.”

Union quarterback Caleb Jordan completed 12-of-24 passes for 231 yards and four touchdowns, also adding 42 yards rushing on nine carries. Titans’ running back Isaiah Jones had a big game on the ground, rushing for 115 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 16 carries. And defensively, defensive back Aidan Hoyt finished with three interceptions on the night for Union.

Steilacoom quarterback Chance McDonald, after cruising in his varsity debut against Lake Washington, came back down to earth in game two with a much stiffer test, completing 21-of-39 passes for 207 yards and a touchdown and three interceptions.

Davies said it’s part of the growing process for his junior quarterback.

“You see the high last week against Lake Washington and he was on point, getting the football in the right places,” Davies said. “This week, he was challenged a little more, and a little more pressure on him from a pocket perspective, had to make some tough throws and some tough reads.

“We just have to get better. Getting our eyes in the right spot, making sure we help him get the football in the right spot. And he has to do a better job of doing what he’s coached to do, and he knows that.”

There were a couple positive moments for the Sentinels, which, unsurprisingly, came from Egbuka. The first was a 34-yard punt return for a touchdown, which Egbuka started off on the left sideline, before cutting back into the middle of the field with plenty of space in front of him.

“I saw a lot of green grass and took advantage of it,” Egbuka said.

A lot of teams would probably prefer to simply punt the ball out of bounds at this point. So when Egbuka sees the ball coming to him, there’s an excitement about it.

“That’s a special feeling,” he said.

McDonald later connected with Egbuka in the fourth quarter for an 18-yard score, placing a perfect throw into the corner of the endzone to get the Sentinels to 13 points.

All in all, the game doesn’t count toward the league standings for Steilacoom, and Davies said he wanted his team to use the loss as a motivator and a learning experience.

“I told the guys before and after, we’re going to see a team that’s just as talented, if not more talented than us, again,” Davies said. “Could be next week (against Lynden), could be Fife, could be in the playoffs. We just need to step up to the challenge a little better. I felt like it was a good challenge for us and know we know what it’s like to play at this level. We just have to get better every week.”