KENNEWICK -- Give the Kamiakin Braves your best shot, give them 48 minutes of tough, clean football, and you just might stand toe-to-toe with the fourth-ranked team in the state.
Give them a head of steam and a couple of gifts early in the game, and it's going to be a long night.
Running back Zach Umemoto powered the Braves on a 75-yard drive to open the game, and the Southridge Suns handed them a short field for two more quick scores in a 41-7 CBBN 3A rout Friday night at Lampson Stadium.
"Any game we can start off with a score is a good game. That set the tempo," said T.J. Tolliver, Kamiakin's 6-foot-7, 360-pound guard.
And now the Braves (6-0, 4-0) are the last unbeaten team in the CBBN 3A, as Southridge (4-2, 3-1) falls into a tie for second with Kennewick, a 28-16 winner over Hanford.
As Umemoto dashed off runs of 9, 13, 15 and 17 yards on that first drive leading up to his 6-yard TD burst, Kamiakin coach Scott Biglin knew his offense was on script, especially when quarterback Jason Hutchison completed his first six passes, mostly short throws to grease the wheels and keep the Suns defense honest.
"That's exactly what we wanted to do," Biglin said. "We gave Hutch a few easy throws, and he hit 'em, and Umi did a great job running the ball."
After that opening score, the Suns got the ball near midfield on quarterback Matt Mendenhall's 12-yard dance through Kamiakin's pass rush.
But two plays later, the shotgun snap flew over Mendenhall's head for a whopping 25-yard loss.
The Suns wound up punting from their own 25, but the kick barely cleared the line of scrimmage and bounced back for negative yards. Kamiakin lineman Joe Hunt gathered it in and hustled up a few more yards, setting the Braves up at the Southridge 10.
On Kamiakin's next snap, fullback Drew Oord waggled out of the backfield, and Hutchison hit him for the score.
"It was huge," Biglin said. "We preach start fast, finish fast. Tonight we started fast."
Southridge's snapping woes continued through the next possession, with a third-and-5 resulting in a pass for a 10-yard loss as Mendenhall was sent scrambling back inside the 5 to corral a loose ball.
"The only thing I would say is credit the pressure of the Kamiakin defense," said Suns coach Tony Reiboldt. "The kids weren't ready. We got punched right in the gut."
The Braves' third drive started just outside the 50, and resulted in Hutchison running in from 5 yards out for a 21-0 lead 6 seconds into the second quarter. At that point, Kamiakin had 103 yards of offense to Southridge's minus-16.
The Braves added a fourth score on Cody Wilmoth's 5-yard run before the half for a 27-0 bulge. Josh Richards broke off an 80-yard catch-and-run -- his third TD of 75-plus yards in two weeks -- for Southridge in the second half, and Kamiakin scored on a 45-yard return by Andrew Castillo of its own fumble and an 80-yard catch-and-run by Oord. But the game had long since been decided.
Hutchison finished an efficient 11-for-13 for 139 yards, and appreciated the work his offensive line did as he watch Mendenhall scramble about under heavy pressure.
"I do. Our line is the best in the league, and I know they're going to keep me safe," Hutchison said. "And our defensive line is unbelievable."
Mendenhall found some time to throw in the second half, finishing 15-for-24 for 181 yards and one pick. But the Suns never recovered from those two early losses, as well as a 17-yard second in the third quarter by Joe Hunt.
"We fly around and hit and have a good time," said Braves safety James Swinyard. "We have the two best corners in the league. Hunt and (Dylan) Keech, (Nate) Brandhorst and Luke Bare are amazing. Our linebackers are great. They make it easy to play free safety."
Kamiakin 41, Southridge 7
Southridge 0 0 7 0 -- 7
Kamiakin 14 13 7 7 -- 41
K--Zach Umemoto 6 run (Blake Wagar kick)
K--Drew Oord 10 pass from Jason Hutchison (Wagar kick)
K--Hutchison 5 run (Wagar kick)
K--Cody Wilmoth 5 run (kick fail)
S--Josh Richards 80 pass from Matt Mendenhall (Conner Mertens kick)
K--Andrew Castillo 45 fumble advance (Wagar kick)
K--Oord 80 pass from Hutchison (Wagar kick)
RUSHING--S, Chris Haueter 14-43, Robb Ellsworth 1-4, Cole Henderson 1-3, Mendenhall 6-1, Myles Hejmanowski 1-0, Team 1-(minus 25). K, Umemoto 8-72, Wilmoth 10-45, Castillo 0-45, Kylle Robertson 3-13, Liam Ollila 6-8, Oord 3-3, Quan Turner 1-(minus 2), Sisto Santana Pina 1-(minus 3), Hutchison 3-(minus 5), Team 1-(minus 1).
PASSING--S, Mendenhall 15-24-1-181. K, Hutchison 11-13-0-139.
RECEIVING--S, Paul Hamada 7-24, Richards 4-128, Haueter 1-11, Adam Sanders 1-9, Brenden Kelly 1-5, Clay Gonzalez 1-5. K, Oord 3-88, Tyler Perrins 3-30, Jesse Houser 2-21, Brandon Larson 1-14, Wilmoth 1-5, James Swinyard 1-3.
FIRST DOWNS--S 9, K 11. FUMBLES-LOST--S 2-1, K 3-1. PENALTIES-YARDS--S 6-45, K 40.