High School Football

Braves' special teams denied

TACOMA -- If there was one area where the Kamiakin Braves seemed like they might have a big advantage over the Bellevue Wolverines, it was on special teams.

Namely, on the kickoff and punt returns.

Tim White has returned seven kicks for touchdowns and Dom Davis two. So it figured in Friday's 3A state championship game at the Tacoma Dome that those change-of-possession situations could be big weapons for the Braves.

But though they threatened with a couple of decent returns, the Braves never broke the big one in a 38-0 loss.

"They definitely did their homework," White said of Bellevue's cover teams.

The closest Kamiakin came to taking it to the house was on the kickoff after Bellevue's first touchdown.

The ball floated down into White's arms at the 5, and the shifty senior found a seam and was into open field.

Unfortunately for Kamiakin, the Wolverines have a pretty stiff safety net in speedy linebacker Myles Jack, who along with kicker Mitch Johnson and the sideline made sure White didn't go any farther than the 50.

They next time Bellevue kicked off, Johnson sent it out of bounds. Kamiakin took the 5-yard penalty rather than starting at the 35 and made the Wolverines kick again.

Again it went to White, but this time Bellevue's cover team stayed in its lanes and brought down the dangerous returner at the 25, a 10-yard net loss for the Braves.

"He almost broke that first one," said Bellevue coach Butch Goncharoff. "We decided to kick to him to find out how good he was. Then we tried to directional kick and we kicked it out of bounds. So then we just decided to just play it straight."

A reverse from White to James Swinyard in the third quarter resulted in a 46-yard kick return. But the only other notable special teams play came when White spun out of tackle after tackle on a punt return with the game already well out of reach.

It went for just seven yards, but the effort was impressive.

"I was thinking this was my last high school football game," White said. "Me and my teammates expect the best on every single play. That's the way we play."

Big-play blues

The Braves made a habit of breaking off long gains on offense and special teams ... even on defense. But Friday, all the big ones went against them.

In the first half alone, Bellevue had runs of 55 and 76 yards and averaged 10 yards a carry. They also had a 34-yard fumble return for a touchdown and a 77-yard interception return.

The final big one -- a 61-yard pass 4 minutes into the second half -- capped all the scoring.

"We've kind of been on the other side of that all year," said receiver Tyler Holle. "But this game just didn't go our way."

Fan favorites

The Braves had plenty of shoulders to lean on when all was said and done.

Fans decked out in scarlet and gold filled up Kamiakin's side of the stands, with four bus-loads of students making the trip over as well as the band and numerous parents and supporters.

"We wanted to play better for our school, which really came out and supported us," said defensive lineman Joe Hunt.

Dubious record

The 38-point margin is the largest in 3A championship history, topping Prosser's 35-point loss to Ferndale in the 2005 game and Mark Morris' loss to Arlington in 1979.

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