Kamiakin's mighty defense takes on Richland's powerful run game

October 2, 2013 

southridge kamiakin football mcc lampson kennewick

September 28, 2013 - Kamiakin's defense sacks Southridge quarterback Jair Ealy-Thomas on Friday as Kamiakin won 42-21 at Lampson Stadium in Kennewick.

KAI-HUEI YAU — Tri-City Herald Buy Photo

Friday night may be a rough night for television programming, but the Mid-Columbia Conference is offering one of the best shows in town at 7 p.m. at Fran Rish Stadium.

Richland, the No. 1 rushing team in the MCC, will go heads up against Kamiakin’s No. 2 rushing defense. The Braves’ top passing offense will be challenged by the Bombers’ physical secondary.

And both teams are still in the mix for the MCC title behind Chiawana.

“I anticipate somebody driving through town Friday, putting five bucks down and getting their money’s worth,” Richland coach Mike Neidhold said. “They charge up and down the field, and they don’t make mistakes. You’ve got to play all three phases, or it’s not going to work out for you.”

The Bombers (3-1 overall, 2-1 MCC) use a four-back rotation on offense that has served them well. Anthony Galat, Bennett Peterson, Nathan Perry and Josh Phillips have combined for 751 yards and eight touchdowns, providing a new set of fresh legs on every series and running downhill behind a mammoth offensive line led by 6-foot-4 junior Will Fisher.

“We know they’ve got some big horses over there. They’re big and strong,” Kamiakin coach Scott Biglin said. “We’re obviously not a big team, but what we lack in size, we make up for in speed. Hopefully, that will neutralize some of their size.”

The Braves (4-0, 2-0) are no slouch running the ball, either. Senior running back Umid Ramizov leads the MCC with 496 yards, averaging 7.2 yards a carry, and is tied for the lead in rushing TDs with eight.

But Kamiakin’s bread and butter is still its passing game, thanks to Kylle Robertson, the MCC’s top quarterback (57-for-103, 1,016, 8 TDs, 3 INTs), coming off a career-high 386-yard game against Southridge. He has a strong core of receivers led by Justin Gutierrez (11 catches, 221 yards, 4 TDs), who hauled in three touchdowns against the Suns.

“(Kylle is) probably the best kid in the league. He’s such a great competitor. They’re going to get him in the right situation to get the ball out on time to his receiving crew,” Neidhold said.

Bombers senior defensive end Hayden Whitby has experienced a few Kamiakin-Richland matchups, and he’s been impressed with Robertson’s patience in the pocket.

“He likes to stop and wait and watch what the defense is doing. We’ve got to plan for that,” Whitby said. “They have a lot of plays on offense.”

Both coaches agree that the game will likely come down to defense.

“This is probably the hundredth time I’ve played a Tim Maher defense since I started this all those years ago,” Neidhold said of the Braves’ longtime defensive coordinator. “When we play these guys, we have to be prepared for Tim’s defensive schemes and how active they are. They’re not going to stand around and wait for you to block them.”

Kamiakin is midway through its biggest three-game stretch of the year, facing three key rivals in successive weeks. Next week, they’ll travel to Pasco to meet MCC frontrunner Chiawana (4-0, 4-0).

But the Braves are 100 percent focused on Richland.

“Richland is another big game — one of those old-time rivalries,” said Kamiakin senior lineman Dylan Keech. “It’s going to be a fun matchup.”

And fans tend to remember the outcome long after the season.

“If you think any differently, just go to a basketball game in the winter. One side will remind the other about what happened in the fall,” Neidhold said.

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