The Kamiakin Braves unveiled their latest version of the bend-but-don’t-break defense Friday night at Fran Rish Stadium.
How else do you explain it, when you surrender 476 yards to the high-octane offense of the Hanford Falcons, yet only give up 14 points?
That’s what happened, as Kamiakin beat Hanford 28-14 in a Mid-Columbia Conference football game.
The Braves (2-0 MCC, 2-1 overall) jump up into second place in the conference, while the Falcons (2-1, 2-1) fall into a tie for third.
Kamiakin coach Scott Biglin had a lot to be thankful for after the game, starting with his defensive coaching staff – defensive coordinator Ryan Carter, linebackers coach Tim Maher, secondary coach Rich Harris, and defensive line coach Jason Woods.
“They’re amazing,” he said. “They put together a great game plan. That’s a potent offense over there. (Hanford coach) Brett (Jay) has a great offensive mind.”
Jay knew what the problem was.
“Kamiakin switched up back and forth from zone coverage to man coverage,” said Jay. “And their ends got a lot of pressure on us, forcing Garrett Horner out of the pocket.”
Horner, the Falcons quarterback, had some monster stats, going 33-for-47 for 394 yards. But he only tossed two TD passes – and those came on Hanford’s first two drives of the game. In fact, the game began to look like a shootout from the start as the teams kept trading touchdowns.
“We knew coming in they had a high-scoring offense,” said Kamiakin defensive lineman Tanner Sullins, who had six tackles (two for loss) and a pass breakup. “But after those first two drives, our coaches got us to settle down. We did nothing different after that first quarter.”
Biglin was also thankful for his junior starting quarterback, Lucas Castilleja, who had some offensive fireworks of his own. He had 350 yards of total offense, 277 of them passing.
They were needed, after sophomore star running back Tuna Altahir left the game in the second quarter and never returned.
“Tuna got injured and had to go out,” said Biglin. “But at halftime, Lucas came up to me and said ‘Don’t worry, Coach, I got this.’ ”
Castilleja already showed he had it handled in the first half, as he fired three touchdown passes – a 9-yarder to Messiah Jones, a 22-yard strike to Niko Wiltz, and a 36-yarder to Jaxon Nichols – that gave the Braves a 21-14 lead at intermission.
“Losing Tuna was a big setback,” said Castilleja. “But we have some big receivers. They’re all tall. Honestly, I just throw it up there and let them go get it.”
He’s not lying.
Jones is 6-foot-5, Wiltz is 6-3, and Nichols is the shortest at 6-2. The majority of the Hanford secondary was giving up anywhere from 5 to 8 inches in height.
Castilleja finished off the scoring in the fourth quarter with a 30-yard TD run.
By then, the Braves defense had everything under control.
“When we got to the Red Zone, things just stiffened up,” said Jay. “We did move the ball. But we couldn’t convert. It was a good test for us.”
NOTES: LB Benjamin Hollenberg also had a big game for Kamiakin, with 7 tackles and a quarterback sack. … DL Connor Millikin was a standout for Hanford with 4 tackles (1 for loss), a hurry and an interception. DB Louis Werner added 6 tackles and 2 pass breakups. … Nichols caught just 4 passes but had 112 receiving yards. Wiltz had 7 catches for 98 yards. … Kaden Harper Lee had the best receiving numbers for Hanford, with 7 catches for 117 yards. …Hanford visits Southridge on Thursday night, while Kamiakin plays host to Kennewick on Friday. Both games start at 7 p.m.
KAMIAKIN 28, HANFORD 14
Han – Blake VanderTop 25 pass from Garrett Horner (Xavier Uvalle kick)
Kam – Messiah Jones 9 pass from Lucas Castilleja (Kaden Shymanski kick)
Han – Kaden Harper Lee 45 pass from Horner (Uvalle kick)
Kam – Niko Wiltz 22 pass from Castilleja (Shymanski kick)
Kam -- Jaxon Nichols 36 pass from Castilleja (Shymanski kick)
Kam – Castilleja 30 run (Shymanski kick)
RUSHING – Kam, Castilleja 12-73, Tuna Altahir 7-62, Ray Chavez 6-25, Total 25-160. Han, Jared DeVine 18-64, Horner 5-19, Louis Werner 1-0, Lee 1-minus 1, Total 25-82.
PASSING – Kam, Castilleja 16-29-2-277. Han, Horner 33-47-0-394.
RECEIVING – Nichols 4-112, Wiltz 7-98, Jones 4-54, Kelen Rutz 1-13. Han, Lee 7-117, VanderTop 7-84, DeVine 7-67, Tyler Garcia 5-49, Luke Sutey 2-30, Edward DeLaPaz 1-22, Isaiah Mitchell 1-17, Jaxon Farrah 1-6, Gabe Martinez 1-3, Daunte Blackwell 1-minus 1.