High School Sports

Chiawana holds Kamiakin for Mid-Columbia Conference football victory

Sometimes the best defense can be a good offense.

And when you already have the league’s top defense, this can be doubly good.

Such was the case for the Chiawana Riverhawks on Friday night, who held the high-flying Kamiakin Braves offense to just 160 total yards en route to a tough 10-7 Mid-Columbia Conference football victory at Edgar Brown Stadium in Pasco.

With the victory, the Riverhawks clinched at least a share of the MCC title, improving to 7-0 (7-1 overall).

Only a loss to Pasco next week, coupled with a Kennewick victory over Southridge, would allow the Riverhawks to share a co-championship with the Lions.

A win over the Bulldogs, and the MCC title is all Chiawana’s.

As it was, Chiawana’s defense was impressive, sacking Kamiakin quarterback Henry Mercado eight times, getting five more tackles for losses, and intercepting two passes — including a key one in the end zone by Dion Lee in the third quarter.

“Our defense played great,” said Chiawana head coach Steve Graff. “We put a lot of pressure on their quarterback. If you give him time back there, he’ll pick you apart.”

But just as important was the Chiawana offense, which chewed up the clock — the Riverhawks had the ball 31 minutes, 51 seconds; the Braves just 16:09.

That kept the ball out of Kamiakin’s hands as much as possible.

“It was hard to get any offensive rhythm going in the first half,” said Kamiakin coach Scott Biglin. “Our defense did a good job. We just couldn’t capitalize on our chances in the Red Zone. And that’s on me.”

The Riverhawks’ two scores came at the end of incredibly long drives.

On the opening drive, Chiawana QB JP Zamora sprinkled in three passes around a 59-yard, 12-play drive that culminated in a 6-yard Marvell Cooks, Jr., touchdown run.

The entire drive took 7 minutes and 31 seconds.

The second scoring drive occurred in the third quarter, after Lee’s big interception kept Kamiakin from taking the lead.

It was a touchback, and the Riverhawks began a methodical 18-play, 80-yard drive that chewed up 9 minutes and 52 seconds. It ended with kicker Evan Dawes punching a 21-yard field goal through the uprights on the first play of the fourth quarter.

That gave Chiawana a 10-7 lead.

Graff very much enjoyed those long drives.

“But I wasn’t happy with what we did in between them,” he said. “We couldn’t get anything else going.”

The 10-7 lead gave the Riverhawks defense the green light to come after Mercado and contain Braves star running back Tuna Altahir (who finished with just 37 yards rushing).

The one guy Chiawana had trouble stopping was Kamiakin wide receiver Woodley Downard, who found himself open in crossing routes, catching five passes for 137 — including a second quarter short screen pass that he turned into a 40-yard touchdown play, breaking three tackles along the way.

But Lee, who was assigned Downard, also had his moments.

“He’s one of the top MCC receivers,” said Lee, who finished with the interception, a cover and four pass breakups. “I watched a lot of film on him.”

And Riverhawks linebacker Bridger Feldmann credited Lee with some of his success — Feldmann finished with 6 tackles, including three QB sacks and another tackle for loss.

“When Dion was locking him down on some plays, I was able to get the sack,” said Feldmann.

The Braves, in fact, had some breakout success at times, getting three 40 yards-plus plays and a 31-yarder. But they could only find the end zone that one time.

But let’s be clear: Kamiakin played some outstanding defense too.

Sophomore linebacker Luis Salgado was all over the field, collecting 11 tackles, with two quarterback sacks and another for loss. EJ Hawkins, another Braves linebacker, added another 7 tackles (one for loss).

It was just that Chiawana kept Kamiakin’s defense on the field too long, wearing the Braves down just enough to win.

Cooks, who has stepped in the last few weeks at tailback for injured starter Gabe Schilz, had another strong game. He carried the ball 32 times for 97 yards and a TD.

“Kamiakin played fast, and they were blitzing,” said Cooks. “But our line did a good job. This game was very important. The playoffs are coming up, and this was a huge win.”

But Graff wasn’t completely happy.

“I lit ‘em up after the game,” he said. “We had too many penalties again (14 for 95 yards). The penalties have to stop. But after I chewed them out, I told them ‘Nice win. Another championship. We must be doing something right. But we are gonna get these other problems fixed.’ ”

Notes: Graff praised WR Kobe Young, who had three key catches during the second long drive to turn third-down situations into first downs and keep the drive going. Young finished with 5 catches for 54 yards. … Chiawana finishes the regular season next Friday against Pasco. … Kamiakin (5-2 MCC, 6-2 overall) plays Hermiston at 5 p.m. Friday in the first game of a Lampson Stadium twinbill. Kennewick plays Southridge in the second contest, scheduled for 8 p.m. … As the top 4A regional seed out of the MCC, Chiawana will play host to the Greater Spokane League’s No. 2 team on Friday, Nov. 8. … Kamiakin looks to be the MCC’s No. 2 3A regional playoff seed, and if that doesn’t change next week, the Braves will head to Spokane to play the GSL’s top 3A seed – either Mt. Spokane or Shadle Park.


Kamiakin 0 7 0 0 — 7

Chiawana 7 0 0 3 — 10

Scoring plays

C – Marvell Cooks 6 run (Evan Dawes kick)

K – Woodley Downard 40 pass from Henry Mercado (Braeden Staniszewski kick)

C – FG 21 Dawes

Individual statistics

RUSHING – Kam, Tuna Altahir 15-37, Mercado 10-minus 60, Totals 25-minus 23. Chi, Cooks 32-97, Cameron Breier 1-3, JP Zamora 5-minus 9, Totals 38-91.

PASSING – Kam, Mercado 7-22-2-183. Chi, Zamora 13-21-1-132, Preston Vine 0-1-0-0.

RECEIVING – Kam, Downard 5-137, Kelen Rutz 1-31, Messiah Jones 1-15. Chi, Kobe Young 5-54, Dion Lee 3-39, Vine 2-17, Cooks 2-16, Aarloh Valdovinos 1-6.

FIRST DOWNS – Kam 7, Chi 12. FUMBLES-LOST – Kam 0-0, Chia 0-0. PENALTIES-YARDS – Kam 2-17, Chi 14-95.

MCC Standings

Chiawana 7-0 MCC, 7-1 overall; Kennewick 6-1, 7-1; Kamiakin 5-2, 6-2; Hanford 4-3, 5-3; Walla Walla 4-4, 4-4; Pasco 3-4, 3-5; Richland 2-5, 3-5; Hermiston 1-6, 1-7; Southridge 0-7, 1-7

Friday, Oct. 25

Chiawana 10, Kamiakin 7

Hanford 50, Hermiston 28

Kennewick 19, Richland 14

Southridge 21, Moses Lake 17

Walla Walla 35, Pasco 21

Friday, Nov. 1

Chiawana at Pasco, Edgar Brown Stadium, 7 p.m.

Hanford at Richland, 7 p.m.

Hermiston at Kamiakin, Lampson Stadium, 5 p.m.

Southridge at Kennewick, Lampson Stadium, 8 p.m.

Wenatchee at Walla Walla, Borleske Stadium, 7 p.m.

2A CWAC Standings


Ellensburg 4-0 CWAC, 4-4 overall; Othello 3-1, 4-4;; East Valley 2-2, 4-4; Ephrata 1-3, 2-6; Quincy 0-4, 3-5


Prosser 4-0, 6-2; Toppenish 3-1, 5-2; Selah 2-2, 3-5; Grandview 1-3, 1-7; Wapato 0-4, 1-7

Friday, Oct. 25

East Valley 26, Ephrata 14

Ellensburg 44, Quincy 0

Prosser 73, Wapato 7

Pullman 13, Othello 7

Selah 52, Grandview 12

Zillah 23, Toppenish 21

Friday, Nov. 1

Ephrata at Grandview, 7 p.m.

Quincy at Wapato, 7 p.m.

Saturday, Nov. 2

At Grandview

Selah vs. Othello (winner to glue crossover games, loser out), 1 p.m.

East Valley vs. Toppenish (winner to glue crossover games, loser out), 4 p.m.

Ellensburg vs. Prosser (both to state), 7 p.m.

SCAC East Standings

Royal 5-0 SCAC, 8-0 overall; Connell 4-1, 5-3; River View 3-2, 6-2; Kiona-Benton 3-2, 5-3; Warden 2-3, 4-4; Wahluke 1-5, 3-5; College Place 0-5, 2-6

Friday, Oct. 25

Cashmere 43, College Place 19

Connell 33, Kiona-Benton 0

Royal 67, River View 0

Warden 48, Wahluke 6

Friday, Nov. 1

College Place at Royal, 7 p.m.

Kiona-Benton at Warden, 7 p.m.

River View at Connell, 7 p.m.

Wahluke at Highland, 7 p.m.

EWAC 2B Standings

Columbia-Burbank 5-0 EWAC, 7-1 overall; Tri-Cities Prep 4-1, 7-1; White Swan 4-1, 5-2; Liberty Christian 2-3, 3-5; Kittitas-Thorp 2-3, 2-5; Mabton 1-5, 3-5; Dayton/Waitsburg 0-5, 0-8

Friday, Oct. 25

Columbia-Burbank 47, Dayton-Waitsburg 8

Kittitas/Thorp 18, Mabton 0

Tri-Cities Prep 54, Brewster 6

White Swan 42, Liberty Christian 29

Friday, Nov. 1

Columbia-Burbank at White Swan, 7 p.m.

Kittitas/Thorp at Liberty Christian, Hanford High School, 7 p.m.

Mabton at Manson, 7 p.m.

Tri-Cities Prep at Dayton/Waitsburg, 7 p.m.

Jeff Morrow is former sports editor for the Tri-City Herald.