Thanks to his super heroics, Austin Urlacher might as well have been wearing a cape Saturday.
With a big ol’ ‘S’ on it.
The senior running back ran through, around, past — and flew over — the Gonzaga Prep defense for 363 yards and two touchdowns, leading the Chiawana Riverhawks to a 38-3 Class 4A state quarterfinal victory at Edgar Brown Stadium.
With the win, Chiawana will play host to Graham-Kapowsin at 1 p.m. next Saturday in the state semifinals.
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By then, maybe everyone will have stopped talking about Urlacher’s exploits against the Bullpups.
After one quarter, he had 114 yards rushing. At halftime, he was up to 220. After three quarters, it was 332.
But there was this one play, in the first half, that had everyone talking after the game. Urlacher broke through the line of scrimmage and into the secondary when G-Prep defensive back Kole Berriochoa closed in for a tackle.
Urlacher, however, would have none of that. As Berriochoa went for his legs, Urlacher hurdled him en route to a 36-yard gain.
“I’m just lucky I didn’t get a penalty for that,” said Urlacher. “I’m so used to little safeties going low on me. I’ve always wanted to do that, and it worked.”
Everything did Saturday for the Riverhawks.
“Offensively, that was one of our better games,” admitted Chiawana coach Steve Graff. “I didn’t like the (four) fumbles. But defensively, we’ve played well the whole season. I didn’t know if we’d get 38 points or not. I was hoping that we would not let them get into the end zone. And that happened.”
Indeed. The Chiawana defense made some adjustments, including moving standout linebacker Caleb Weber off the ball back into a spot where a safety might play. It was a move made to deny the G-Prep blockers a chance to seal a wall for their running game.
“The reason we went to that type of defense was (Gonzaga Prep) rushed for 602 yards on us a few years ago up there, and I immediately fired myself as defensive coordinator and named (Don) Hogue the new guy,” said Graff.
Hogue was especially pleased with his front four — Juan Noyola, Christian Penny, Levi McBride and Kannen Jenkins — and how they clogged things up. Prep’s top rusher, Jack Bamis, was held to 13 yards on 10 carries.
“These guys have done that all year,” said Hogue. “I don’t ever expect our defense to keep a team like that out of the end zone. You dream about it. But you don’t expect that when you get to this level of the playoffs.”
Noyola finished with seven tackles. But what he and his front four linemates did clogging things up allowed the linebackers and secondary to come up and make tackles.
Linebacker Nate Murillo had six tackles (including two for losses and a quarterback sack) and a pass breakup; DB Dillon Coonrad added seven tackles and a pass breakup; and DB Josh Wilson had five tackles (one for loss).
“We watched a lot of film this week,” said Murillo. “A lot of film on our own. We’d go in at lunchtime to watch it. We’d watch film after practice. It’s all mental at this point. Like the coaches say, all of the physical stuff is taken care of in the spring.”
But the Riverhawks were plenty physical Saturday.
Urlacher took advantage of some huge holes created by his offensive line. On a 70-yard touchdown run in the third quarter, he was never touched.
“It was a total team effort,” Urlacher said. “(The offensive linemen) worked so hard all week.”
And that has allowed Urlacher to shine.
“He’s a hard runner and he’s slippery,” said Bullpups coach Dave McKenna. “He’s hard to tackle.”
And sometimes, the numbers even amaze the Chiawana senior.
“I never know what I have,” said Urlacher. “And then they announce it (on the public address system). Whenever I hear it, I’m like ‘Woah.’ ”
So is everyone else.
CHIAWANA TO FLORIDA?: After the game, Graff ran every player quickly into the locker room for an announcement. He had told his players if they won, he’d have a surprise.
The WIAA, he said, invited Chiawana, Bothell and Camas — if one of those teams wins the 4A state title — to play in the State Champions Bowl Series in Florida in late December. Camas is out after losing in the playoffs.
“We’d have to be gone Dec. 25 to 29, and we had to tell them now so people can plan,” said Graff. “What an opportunity. I’ll go to Florida.”
McKenna likes what he sees in Chiawana.
“They’re going to be tough to beat,” said McKenna. Coach Graff has got them going.”
C — Austin Urlacher 3 run (Matt Winn kick)
C — FG 29 Winn
C — Dre Dorton 11 pass from Logan Ellsworth (Winn kick)
GP — FG 37 Jarred Kutsch
C — Urlacher 70 run (Winn kick)
C — Ellsworth 1 run (Winn kick)
C — Christian Penny 18 pass from Ellsworth (Winn kick)
RUSHING — GP, Nick Wood 6-102, Nick Johnson 10-42, Mason Piese 2-21, Ryan Gross 1-14, Jack Bamis 10-13, Blake Bonham 1-11, Zak Courson 1-minus 7, Liam Bell 12-minus 7. C, Urlacher 31-363, Nate Murillo 6-19, Josh Wilson 1-7, Dorton 2-6, Ellsworth 3-5, Team 1-minus 1, Braden Corkrum 3-minus 5.
PASSING — GP, Bell 3-7-2-42. C, Ellsworth 6-8-0-130.
RECEIVING — GP, Wood 1-17, Bonham 1-14, Johnson 1-11. C, Wilson 2-55, Penny 2-49, Cortez Ruiz 1-15, Dorton 1-11.
FIRST DOWNS — GP 11, C 18. FUMBLES/LOST — GP 2-1, C 4-3. PENALTIES/YARDS — GP 5-29, C 7-68.