It started back in August.
Mike Olson said he and his players saw some good things and set some pretty lofty goals for this season.
Admittedly, Olson says it’s been a long ride, but one that is not complete.
Olson and his Liberty Christian Patriots continued their journey, or mission in this case, with a 46-20 Class 1B semifinal win over Republic on Saturday night at Edgar Brown Stadium.
The journey will conclude next weekend at the Tacoma Dome in the 1B state championship game against Neah Bay.
Kickoff is set for 4 p.m. Saturday.
“We made the determination before the season started that we had the goal to win state,” Olson said.
The Patriots (12-0) will be playing in their second title game in the past three seasons, winning the championship in 2012.
Neah Bay (13-0), the defending state champions, beat Lummi 26-20 in the other semifinal game.
“We know it’s going to be a challenge,” said Patriots receiving Cody Daniels.
If somehow the Patriots can re-create their performance against Republic next weekend against Neah Bay, the Patriots should like their chances for another state title.
About the only thing that went wrong was a 92-yard kickoff return in the third quarter.
Aside from that, Liberty Christian was in control throughout.
Led by star quarterback John Lesser, the Patriots jumped out to a 22-0 lead at halftime and were never threatened in the final two quarters.
Lesser ran for three touchdowns and threw for three more, accounting for six of the Patriots’ seven touchdowns.
The other Liberty Christian score came on a 30-yard run by Daniels.
“That was the toughest team we have played,” Daniels said.
Liberty Christian has outscored its opponents 182-46 in its three playoff games, averaging more than 60 points per game.
The Patriots jumped out to a 28-0 lead against Republic on Saturday night before the Tigers got on the board.
Even that took a special play.
Angelo Rivera ran sideline to sideline before breaking free for a 92-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.
“We just had to keep playing,” Olson said. “There are a lot of ups and downs in 8-man football; it could come down to one stop.”
The Patriots answered back a few minutes later on a 54-yard run by Lesser to all but put the game away at 34-6 with 2:27 left in the third quarter.
Lesser had touchdown runs of 79, 54, and 43.
He finished the night with 18 carries for 294 yards.
He also completed 4 of 7 passes for 108 yards.
“It’s not good enough getting third or fourth,” Daniels said. “We want to win it all.”
LC — Tate Richards 2 pass from John Lesser (Cody Daniels run)
LC — Mitch Godwin 54 pass from Lesser (run failed)
LC — Lesser 79 run (Daniels run)
LC — Daniels 30 run (pass failed)
R — Angelo Rivera 92 kickoff return (pass failed)
LC — Lesser 54 run (run failed)
LC — Lesser 43 run (run failed)
R — Rivera 29 pass from Aaron Fritts (pass failed)
LC — Godwin 41 pass from Lesser (run failed)
R — Rivera 5 run (Blake Phillips from Fritts)
RUSHING — R, Alex Rivera 19-89, Phillips 1-9, Angelo Rivera 6-9, Fritts 11-minus 8. LC, Lesser 18-294, Daniels 12-95, Richards 3-4.
PASSING — R, Fritts 16-34-1-247. LC, Lesser 4-7-0-108.
RECEIVING — R, Alex Rivera 8-113, Angelo Rivera 4-81, Trevor Remien 3-51, Phillips 1-2. LC, Godwin 2-95, Robby Heimann 1-11, Connor Mote 1-10, Richards 1-2.
FIRST DOWNS — R 18, LC 15. FUMBLES-LOST — R 3-2, LC 1-0. PENALTIES-YARDS — R 3-25, LC 3-25.