So much of Umid Ramizov’s job as a running back is finding space.
But space can be a valuable commodity on defense, too, as the Kamiakin senior found out during the Braves’ 28-6 win over Columbia River in the first round of the Class 3A state playoffs Saturday night at Lampson Stadium.
Ramizov found plenty of room on both sides of the ball in what Kamiakin coach Scott Biglin called his best game of the season. Ramizov ran for 197 yards and one touchdown behind his trusty offensive line, converting nine of the Braves’ 20 first downs.
He was perhaps more impressive on defense, however, exploiting some rather large splits on the Columbia River offensive front and finishing with 31⁄2 sacks, another tackle for loss and several quarterback pressures.
“(Ramizov) was a man out there. We rode his shoulders today. He’s going to be one sore puppy tomorrow,” Biglin said after the Braves held Columbia River’s explosive backfield tandem of quarterback Jonathan Branson and running back Jayson Branson to just over 100 yards from scrimmage.
Ramizov broke the 100-yard mark midway through the second quarter on the Braves’ second scoring drive of the night — a 13-play, 69-yard drive capped by Kylle Robertson’s 1-yard plunge that made it 14-0.
He gave full credit to the offensive line, which took advantage of the Chieftans’ three-man defensive front and gave Ramizov even more space to play with.
“They were great. We knew we had to step it up after last week, and they did,” Ramizov said. “We prepared to win. We worked hard and had a great week of practice.”
The offensive line had already suffered one loss during the week, losing starting center Sam Mulliner to a broken hand, and they weren’t ready to accept another loss. Fortunately, junior Christian Carmen took over at center — joining seniors Dylan Keech, Tristan Lindstrom, Hayden Burris and Riley Bacon — and filled in admirably.
“(Carmen) really hasn’t played all year, and here he is in the first round of state,” Biglin said. “I’d say based on how we ran the ball, he did a really good job.”
Lindstrom, a two-year starter at left guard, agreed with his coach.
“All week, (offensive line coach Gilbert Marquez) was saying that (Columbia River) was daring us to run on them, and we got it done,” Lindstrom said.
They did a fine job in pass protection, too, allowing Robertson to throw for two touchdowns. On Kamiakin’s final touchdown, Robertson had time to look to one side of the field, look to the other, check down and make a sandwich before finding Jace Navejas coming back over the middle for a 10-yard score.
“Man, that’s our coach. (Marquez) really pounds us with conditioning and workouts e every morning. He teaches us to go hard, and that’s what got us there,” Lindstrom said.
Columbia River coach John O’Rourke figured the Braves would find a way to neutralize the Chieftans’ speed. On defense, the Chieftans had no answer for Ramizov.
“They weren’t going to kick it deep on kickoffs, and they kept it away from (return men Nathan Hawthorne and Marcus Gaylor),” O’Rourke said. “We tried to play our positions and prevent (Ramizov) from bouncing to the outside. We weren’t very successful doing that.”
Kamiakin (9-2) will play host to Shadle Park (10-1) at 2 p.m. Saturday at Lampson Stadium. The Highlanders feature one of the most explosive passing attacks in state history, led by Brett Rypien, the Greater Spokane League’s all-time career passing leader.
“They’re really good, and they score a lot of points. We’ve got to get our offense geared up and ready to go, and figure out what we can do defensively,” Biglin said. “We have a lot of the same formations, so as far as scout teams it won’t be hard to get their formations. But it’s hard to replicate their speed and ability of Rypien to throw the ball.”
“I might have to get out there and get my arm warm a little to see if I can replicate him,” said Biglin, a former Pasco and Whitworth College quarterback, “We’ll figure it out.”
Columbia River 0 6 0 0 — 6
Kamiakin 7 14 7 0 — 28
K—Umid Ramizov 1 run (Connor Shymanski kick)
K—Michael Jones 19 pass from Kylle Robertson (Shymanski kick)
CR—Nathan Hawthorne 10 pass from Jonathan Branson (kick blocked)
K—Robertson 1 run (Shymanski kick)
K—Jace Navejas 10 pass from Robertson (Shymanski kick)
RUSHING—CR, Jo.Branson 11-30, Jayson Branson 11-32, team 1-(minus 2). K, Ramizov 35-197, Robertson 7-25, Jones 3-13, Justin Larsen 4-24.
PASSING—CR, Jo.Branson 10-14-0-59. K, Robertson 7-14-0-107.
RECEIVING—CR, Hawthorne 6-39, Holden Fielding 1-11, Dante Coleman 1-7, Ja.Branson 1-1, Marcus Gaylor 1-1. K, Casey Brandon 1-7, Hunter Shauers 1-21, Jones 2-36, Sterling Farrah 1-19, Navejas 1-24, Austin Gutierrez 1-7.
FIRST DOWNS—CR 8, K 20. FUMBLES-LOST—CR 2-1, K 1-0. PENALTIES-YARDS—CR 6-40, K 6-65.