Zach Borisch has worked out with recently retired MMA star Miesha Tate, and he has traveled the world competing in judo tournaments, but getting his hands on a state football title would mean the world to him and his Kamiakin Braves teammates.
Kamiakin (11-2) will take on top-ranked O’Dea (13-0) at 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Tacoma Dome for the Class 3A title.
“We aren’t going there to be second,” Borisch said. “That’s not what we are about. I have spent four years in this program, and it has all come down to this. This is special.”
The 6-foot, 185-pound Borisch has done his part in getting the Braves to the championship game — Kamiakin’s first since 2010 — throwing for 2,676 yards and 34 touchdowns, and running for 580 yards and nine touchdowns.
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“His first couple of years, he was a naturally gifted runner,” Kamiakin coach Scott Biglin said. “One of the things he has really developed is his throwing game. This year, he has thrown the ball extremely well. We haven’t had to use his legs because we have so many weapons out wide and Jethro (Questad) in the backfield. It has helped us out these past couple of games because people didn’t know he could run. Now we’ve shown that he can run, and it’s just more stuff teams have to prepare for. The past couple of weeks, they have taken away a couple of our throws and some of the stuff Jethro can do, and that left Zach open as far as the run is concerned.”
Borisch displayed both talents in the semifinals against Eastside Catholic, running for 173 yards and two scores, and throwing for 187 yards and two more touchdowns. But it’s another week, and the Irish bring a whole other set of problems for the Braves.
“We may get to the game against O’Dea, and they may take Zach away and we’ll have to find something else,” Biglin said. “It’s kind of a chess game. We don’t go in saying Zach is going to run it 30 times, but if that’s what it takes to win a game, that’s what we are going to have to do. If we have to throw it 50 times, that’s what we’ll do.”
For Borisch, his success boils down to two things — his offensive line and his receivers.
“I have amazing wide receivers and an amazing line I can trust,” Borisch said. “The coaches let me know what to do with the ball, and we spread it around to our great wide receivers. We are able to showcase their talents. No one can key on them because we have four amazing talents.”
Borisch isn’t just pumping up his teammates. The stats tell the whole story for Isaiah Brimmer (52-729 rec., 12 touchdowns), Darreon Moore (30-546 rec., 8 TDs), Benson Smith (41-550 rec., 7 TDs) and Champ Grayson (22-332 rec., 5 TDs).
“I have my favorite receiver in different situations,” Borisch said. “Brimmer will go up and grab the ball over just about anyone. Darreon is shifty and fast. He is the fastest guy on the team, and he makes things happen. Benson will haul butt down the field, and he is hard to bring down. Champ does a little of everything. He mixes the other three together.”
Biglin wasn’t sure what to think about his receivers until he saw them in action.
“In 2010, when we went to the state championship game, we had a good group of receivers,” Biglin said. “My idea of what a receiver should look like is based on that group. This group came here this summer, and they were everything I want in my receiving corps. They have excelled and have been even better than that (2010) group. It says a lot about how good of athletes they are and how good Zach has done with these kids.”
While the run always is an option, Borisch is more about airing the ball out and letting his receivers work their magic.
“I don’t run unless there is a broken play, no one is open or the pocket is collapsing,” he said. “I’m back there to throw, and run when I have to. We are very balanced. We can run when we want or throw when we want. Teams have to prepare for that.”
When sports come together
Judo and football have been a part of Borisch’s life since he was a young boy. As he has matured, he has found a way to blend them.
The judo helps with mental toughness and overcoming adversity — something the Braves had to do last weekend when they trailed two-time defending state champion Eastside Catholic by 10 points after the first quarter. The Braves won 30-27.
“I have to be able to man up and go to war,” Borisch said. “I have to be able to push myself on the field. Being a quarterback, there is a lot of praise and glory, but you have to be there to rally the troops and have them follow you. You have to have that vibe and body language to lead your team.”
While the University of Idaho has extended Borisch an offer to play football, he hasn’t signed yet. He’s in no hurry to put this season to rest.
“I want to play football; that is my passion,” he said. “I’d love to be a quarterback — I love the leadership — but I will play anywhere they put me. I loved playing linebacker, but when I became quarterback my junior year, my defensive career was over.”
Borisch also is a standout wrestler for the Braves, but he hasn’t decided whether he will strap on the headgear or head to the mountains and go snowboarding with his friends and “just be a kid.”
Until that time, he has one more mission with his troops.
“We are going to the Dome,” he said, “and we want to leave with a championship.”
KAMIAKIN BRAVES (11-2) VS. O’DEA IRISH (13-0)
When, where: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Tacoma Dome.
Road to 3A final: Kamiakin — def. Gig Harbor 45-0, def. Bonney Lake 37-10, def. Eastside Catholic 30-27. O’Dea — def. Ferndale 42-21, def. Lincoln 28-20, def. Meadowdale 35-9.
2015 state playoff finish: Kamiakin lost to Lakes 53-34 in the first round. O’Dea did not make the playoffs.
State playoff history: Kamiakin is 18-19 in 20 appearances (titles: none). O’Dea is 45-28 in 32 appearances (three titles: 1991 AA championship, beat Prosser 21-14; 1994 AA championship, beat Lake Stevens 7-6; 1995 AA championship, beat Prosser 35-14).
Top players: Kamiakin — QB Zach Borisch (174-294-11—2,676 pass, 34 TDs; 111-580 rush, 9 TDs); RB Jethro Questad (209-1,326 rush, 17 TDs; 19-363 rec., 2 TDs); WR Isaiah Brimmer (52-729 rec., 12 TDs); WR Champ Grayson (22-332 rec., 5 TDs); WR Darreon Moore (30-546 rec., 8 TDs); WR Benson Smith (41-550 rec., 7 TDs; 5 INTs). O’Dea — RB Jamyn Patu (158-1,452 rush, 14 TDs); RB Connor Gregoire (75-435 rush, 12 TDs); RB Hunter Franco (96-806 rush, 11 TDs).
Quick facts: Kamiakin has played for the state title twice, losing both times (2010, 38-0 to Bellevue; 1995, 49-7 to Curtis). ... O’Dea coach Monte Kohler has never had a losing season in 32 years. His 312 career wins are second in state history to Tumwater’s Sid Otton, who just retired with 394. ... The Irish lost quarterback Warren King during the quarterfinals against Lincoln. He had hip surgery just before Thanksgiving. King was 41-of-85 passing for 627 yards and eight TDs this season. ... Ben Beale started the season at QB before injuring his knee. He returned in the semifinals against Meadowdale and reinjured his knee. Emonte Scott took over at QB. No word on who this week’s starter will be. ... O’Dea’s defense has yielded just 13 points per game this season.