High School Football

Kamiakin heading to Tacoma (w/ gallery)

KENNEWICK -- Scott Biglin has called it an embarrassment of riches.

Throughout the season, the Kamiakin coach has watched his football team play all three phases of the game -- offense, defense and special teams -- better than its opponents. The usual result is the Braves putting the game away early in the second half and finishing with a running clock.

But on a cold and snowy Saturday afternoon at Lampson Stadium, the Braves needed every penny of their treasury to fight off the Capital Cougars and punch their ticket to Tacoma.

Joey Jansen threw for three touchdowns and ran for another, Tim White had a hand in a pair of big plays, and the Kamiakin defense was at its brick-wall best in a 45-18 win over Capital in the 3A state semifinals.

"Amazing," said defensive end Jon Allen. "We knew we could do this. We knew we could get this far. The work paid off. We did it.

"We always dreamed of getting this far. We can do this."

"This is something," added lineman Tanner Meier, "since the eighth grade, we grew up talking about getting to state and winning state."

The Braves (13-0) will play in a state championship game for just the second time in the program's storied past. They will face Bellevue (12-1), the top program in the state. The Wolverines are the two-time defending champs and have won seven titles since 2001.

Kickoff is at 4 p.m. Friday in the comfy confines of the Tacoma Dome.

It took a massive effort for the Braves to reach their first final since 1995, and that was before kickoff. Some 80 volunteers -- school staff, parents, etc. -- took to the turf at Lampson on Saturday morning with snow shovels to clear some 9,400 square yards of snow.

The game itself required some heavy lifting by the Braves, with their 23-point margin hardly indicative of a game that was within 10 points heading into the final quarter. It would have been within a single touchdown if Capital (12-1) could kick an extra point.

It was a remarkable feat for the visitors from Olympia, who were playing without their star running back, Tyler Sundberg (2,475 yards, 29 TDs), who injured his calf in last week's close quarterfinal win over O'Dea and was never close to playing this week.

The Cougars had just answered another quick Kamiakin scoring drive -- three plays, 59 yards -- with a laborious, 14-play, 60-yard affair. They had to convert twice on third down and twice on fourth to pull within 28-18 in the waning moments of the third quarter.

The Braves came right back -- zip, zip, zip -- with Jesse Hauser taking the hit but holding on to Jansen's 30-yard strike over the middle. On the next play, Zack Umemoto burst another 30 yards up the middle for the quick score.

Another three-and-out forced by the defense got Kamiakin started at the Capital 30, and Jansen dashed around the corner on the first play for the back-breaking score.

"You never know what kind of character you have until you get in one of these games," Biglin said. "It was a complete team effort."

Field position was the key from the start, with Kamiakin starting on the Cougars' side of the field on all three first-half TDs and six times all told. Mostly, it came not because of turnovers or long punt returns, but because the defense pitched a lot of three-and-outs and the Cougars knew well enough not to kick to White, instead opting for 20-yard punts out of bounds.

"Field position was huge," said Capital coach J.D. Johnson. "They kept us pinned deep."

Jansen threw for 214 yards on a cold day when quarterbacks and receivers sometimes had trouble finding a grip. Twice he found Tyler Holle for scores, and AJ Griffiths scored on a 40-yard reverse pass from White as Kamiakin opened the game with a little razzle-dazzle.

White provided some dazzle of his own on his 33-yard scoring catch in the third quarter on a ball that hung up going into double coverage.

White, bracketed by the defense, went up high to take the ball away from one defender, then landed and immediately slipped away from the second for the easy score.

"That was the first ball up to then that I felt slip out of my hand," Jansen said. "I looked down, I was cussing myself, and then I see Tim go up and make the catch. That was a huge relief."

"I had no clue," White said. "I caught it, turned around and the guy just missed."

No doubt the celebration for Kamiakin will last through the weekend, as even Biglin was left a little breathless.

"It's everything I've dreamed off," the second-year coach said. "When I was a player (at Pasco), all I wanted to do was go to the Dome and win a state championship. We came up short my senior season (1997) and they won it the next.

When I got the job here, I knew this was the place to take me to the promised land. But we have a tough job ahead of us."

Something his players know full well.

"We have our work cut out for us," White said.

Kamiakin 45, Capital 18

Capital 6 6 6 0 -- 18

Kamiakin 14 7 7 17 -- 45

SCORING PLAYS

K--AJ Griffiths 40 pass from Tim White (Garrett Bowe kick)

C--Jourdan Weiks 62 pass from Alex Everson (kick blocked)

K--Tyler Holle 25 pass from Joey Jansen (Bowe kick)

K--Holle 9 pass from Jensen (Bowe kick)

C--Weiks 17 pass from Everson (pass fail)

K--White 33 pass from Jansen (Bowe kick)

C--Roman Vern 7 run (pass fail)

K--Zach Umemoto 30 run (Bowe kick)

K--Jensen 30 run (Bowe kick)

K--FG Bowe 22

STATISTICS

RUSHING--C, Kai Van Sickle 22-86, Chase Lamoreaux 4-10, Jay Maiava 3-13, Everson 4-5, Vern 5-(minus 2). K, Umemoto 11-70, Jansen 2-34, Dom Davis 6-21, White 1-5, Cody Wilmoth 2-2.

PASSING--C, Everson 5-21-1-99. K, Jansen 13-26-1-214, White 1-1-0-40.

RECEIVING--C, Greg Hibbard 3-30, Weiks 1-62, Vern 1-7. K, Griffith 5-82, White 3-56, Davis 2-46, Holle 2-34, Jesse Houser 2-36.

FIRST DOWNS--C 9, K 12. FUMBLES-LOST--C 1-1, K 3-1. PENALTIES-YARDS--C 3-25, K 7-45.

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