The Curtis High School football team came into Saturday’s game against Bethel with a victory needed to keep its playoff hopes alive in the Class 4A SPSL South division.
After a 49-14 romp against the beaten-up Braves, consider Curtis in the hunt.
Running back Donnell Diego rushed for 232 yards on 31 carries and scored three touchdowns as Curtis (5-2, 3-2 SPSL South) took advantage of a Bethel team playing without quarterback Bryce Missey.
“Donnell is that kid that in a game like this, if anybody is going to go rush for over 200 yards, it’s going to be that kid,” said Vikings head coach Chris Paulson. “With this group of kids, that is kind of the way we expect to play.”
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With the win Saturday, Curtis moves into a tie for third place in the SPSL South with Puyallup — though Puyallup holds the head-to-head tiebreaker with Curtis — and just the top three teams move on to the district playoffs.
Bethel remains in second place, but to keep their league title hopes alive the Braves must bounce back with a win at home against Spanaway Lake next week. Bethel closes the regular season with a game against undefeated Graham-Kapowsin.
On Saturday, Diego opened up the game with four consecutive rushes totaling 28 yards. Sophomore running back Izaiah Fields added a 4-yard gain, and Diego got the ball again to pound it to within the Braves’ 25-yard line. That set up a Gage Ferguson 23-yard touchdown pass to Vikings wide receiver Tristan Beard for a 7-0 lead.
Curtis grew their lead in the waning minutes of the first quarter with Diego’s first rushing touchdown, putting them up 14-0.
The quick deficit was more than Bethel could handle. With Missey out of action, Bethel coach Mark Iddins was forced to start sophomore Tristyn Gese at quarterback.
“Any time you lose your starting quarterback, it affects your offense a lot,” Iddins said. “We like our next two quarterbacks, but they have never played. There were some first game mistakes and that affected our offense quite a bit.”
It affected Bethel’s running game, too, as senior running back Jon Jon Taimanglo had trouble finding holes to run through.
“Their linebackers are great. They are a great team with great hustle,” Taimanglo said. The senior running back could only muster 20 yards on 11 carries.
The Braves cut into the Vikings’ lead late in the second quarter as Gese threw to senior wide receiver Zack Neigel for a 9-yard touchdown to make it 21-7.
The second half did not differ much for Curtis, as its offensive attack heavily relied on Diego rushing and quarterback Gage Ferguson managing the game.
“I felt that really proved our point,” Ferguson said. “The last couple games, we haven’t been able to get rolling in the second half, and this week we did. We scored a lot more times in the second half and I’m proud of us for that.”
Ferguson finished the night 5 of 6 passing for 117 yards with three touchdowns, and added 12 carries for 69 yards.
“When we are all healthy and doing things the right way, I think we are pretty good,” Paulson said.