What a sight walking out of Sparks Stadium last night, with the lights and sounds of the Puyallup Fair screaming for attention.
Made me think of the rollercoaster ride I’d just witnessed as fourth-ranked Puyallup pulled out a 25-24 victory over Kentwood that probably had stomachs as queasy as any of those upside-down rides a few blocks away.
What a gutsy call by Puyallup coach Tom Ingles to go for two — and the victory — with 1:18 to play, instead of playing it semi-safe with a game-tying PAT (in high school, generally no PAT is a certainty — in fact, the Vikings were behind by a point because of a bad snap that prevented a PAT after their first score).
Ingles, who coached at Kentwood for 14 years before going to Puyallup in 2004, said the decision was easy and one he likely would have made even if this wasn’t a nonleague game.
“We finally got a little momentum for a few minutes and I thought it was as good as time as any,” he said. “We weren’t stopping them very well. Momentum was going our way so we thought, ‘What the heck, we might as well go for it now.'”
Ingles put his faith in Alec Elliott, even though the first-year starter had struggled late in the game with six straight incompetions before a key 9-yard strike to Rob Stettvett on fourth down that kept the drive alive.
“We decided we were going to put the ball in his hands and go,” said Ingles, a former quarterback. “Quarterbacks are supposed to do that, aren’t they?”
Elliott, a senior, had a hot hand early, completing 7 of 10 for 135 yards, including a 32-yard TD strike to Joel Smith. He also had one pass interecepted as Kentwood’s Steven Warner took the ball away from the intended receiver and raced down the sideline 47 yards for the tying touchdown, leaping into the end zone.
The third quarter had been all Kentwood. Make that all Demetrius Bronson. I mentioned earlier in the week it would be interesting to see what the Washington-bound running back would do with 20-plus carries after getting only 11 in the season opener against South Kitsap (and still racking up 170 yards, including a 68-yard TD). Last night, he got the ball 24 times and logged 226 yards — 131 of those coming in the third quarter on just four carries, including bursts of 59 (TD) and 57 (set up a TD) yards.
The Conquerors (1-1) led 24-17 late in the fourth but did themselves in with a bad punt snap (a 41-yard loss to the Kentwood 17 that could easily have led to a touchdown, but didn’t) and a fumbled pitch (that did set up the final TD).
Bronson, who is as classy as he is talented, down-played the miscues and the loss.
“Young teams make young mistakes,” he said. “We’ve just got to come back from this loss.”
Puyallup’s D.J. Williams proved he is as big of a play-maker on defense as he is on offense. He not only rushed for 126 yards and a touchdown, but put an exclamation point on the night with three consecutive sacks to end the game. Another classy kid, he credited his defensive coordinator, Jim Sutrick (former Kentwood assistant with Ingles).
“Those were three great calls by my coach,” he said with reference to his blitzes.
South Puget Sound League play starts for real next week with division play. Kentwood opens with Decatur of Federal Way (1-1), while Puyallup faces Beamer of Federal Way (2-0). Beamer showed it is more than the Lamardray Fuller show last night in a 31-21 win over Decatur. Fuller, who exploded for 307 yards in the Titans’ first game, had a quiet 60 yards. This time it was Josh Waller with the wallop, scoring three times, including a 90-yard kickoff return.
A couple of the feel-good stories down South are Emerald Ridge of Puyallup, Bonney Lake and Auburn Mountainview. Emerald Ridge, 0-9 last season, is off the a 2-0 start and opens SPSL South play next week against Rogers of Puyallup, which is 1-1 after that stunning, 28-7 victory over No. 3 Kentridge (1-1). Stunning to me not so much because of the win, but because of the score. Kentridge has some work to do on that new shotgun spread offense and had better get it done before this week’s game with Tahoma of Maple Valley (1-1) to open North Division play.
Bonney Lake (2-0) has already equaled its 2006 win total. Auburn Mountainview (2-0) was just 3-7 last year. One bubble is going to burst a bit next week as those two teams open SPSL 3A play against each other Friday at Sunset Chev Stadium in Sumner.
Speaking of SPSL 3A, No. 7 Franklin Pierce of Parkland posted another impressive nonleague victory last night, 49-7 over Clover Park of Lakewood. The Cardinals have now outscored their first two opponents 103-13. Leading CP just 9-0 at the half, Franklin Pierce took coach Howard Lutton’s halftime speech to heart and exploded for 40 third-quarter points, recording six touchdowns during an eight-minute span. QB Erich Armstrong fueled the outburst, factoring into three of those scores (TD run, TD pass, interception TD).
The Cardinals (2-0) open league play against Auburn (1-1), which rebounded from a 35-20 loss to Curtis of University Place with a 42-20 triumph over Kent-Meridian in the Taylor Trophy game, the second-longest series in the state.
I’d love to see Franklin Pierce square off against top-ranked Lakes of Lakewood right now, wouldn’t you? The Lancers (2-0) were impressive again last night in a 42-0 romp over Rainier Beach (0-2), which will be happy to settle into Metro League play after a grueling preseason that included a trip to Pasco (No. 5 in 4A).
Lakes QB Calvin Schmidtke ran for one TD and threw for two more. He is one of seven Division I prospects on the Lakes roster. Perhaps that’s why UW coach Tyrone Willingham was seen at the Harry E. Lang Stadium.
Up North, Edmonds-Woodway (2-0) certainly made a point — well lots of them, actually — in a 54-20 romp past No. 8 Mariner. Tony Heard racked up 266 yards on 22 carries and logged four touchdowns — all in a little over three quarters of work. Look for the Warriors, semifinalists last year, to jump into the top-10 next week.
If anyone was wondering how No. 8 Bellevue (1-1) would bounce back from that 6-0 loss to No. 4 Skyline in Week One (those who know Butch Goncharoff and his program should have had no doubts), the Wolverines appear to be back on the right track. They ripped a pretty good Mount Si team, 31-14, with converted-lineman Eric Nelson popping off for 103 yards and two touchdowns. Next up for Bellevue is No. 9 Issaquah (2-0), a 48-13 winner over Sammamish.
Skyline got its offense clicking last night with a 48-13 win over Mercer Island with sophomore QB Jake Heaps throwing for 288 yards and three TDs. The Spartans travel to 2-0 Newport next week.
By the way, its easy for us West-side folks to forget about some of those tough teams from East of the mountains, but don’t forget about No. 2 Kamiakin of Kennewick. The Braves posted their second straight shut out, 24-0. Oh, the opponent was that same Pasco team that trounced Rainier Beach.
Some great games coming up in Week Three. Stay tuned.
— Sandy Ringer
Tony Heard, Edmonds-Woodway football. Spearheaded 54-20 victory over No. 8 Mariner with 266 yards on 22 carries, scoring four times.
Jake Heaps, Skyline football. The sophomore’s got a chance to show off his arm and threw for 288 yards and three touchdowns in a 48-13 romp over Mercer Island.
Demetrius Bronson, Kentwood football. UW recruit racked up 226 yards on 24 carries, including a 59-yard TD romp, as the Conquerors nearly upset No. 4 Puyallup before falling, 25-24.
Justin Glenn, Kamiak football. Scored five touchdowns as the Knights jumped to a 37-0 lead over Lynnwood, improving to 2-0. Three of his TDs came on the ground and the other two via pass receptions.
Johnny Encinas, Oak Harbor football. Keyed a 35-0 victory over Arlington with five TD tosses.
Tonight’s top games
Sumner vs. Evergreen football, 7 p.m. at Sunset Chev Stadium (Sumner). The Wolverines, ranked No. 5 in 3A, already look in mid-season form. But Sumner gave Puyallup a tough time early on last week.
Del Oro (Calif.) vs. Kennedy football, 8 p.m. at Memorial Stadium. The Lancers (0-1), a top-10 3A team to start the season, are in for another tough one against traditional California powers, but hope to show improvement out of the Las Vegas heat.