NAPAVINE — Tiger coach Josh Fay called it running scared. K.C. Johnson said his Pirates need to improve their trap defense — specifically against the, ahem, quarterback position.
Napavine quarterback Laythan Demarest, the subject of both coaches’ opinions, just shrugged off his Friday night performance as simply “okay.”
“Okay,” in this instance, translated to 322 rushing yards and four touchdowns on 14 carries here in a 46-13 rivalry win.
“The line did great,” Demarest said. “The blockers are amazing, and our wide receivers on the perimeter blocked outstanding, also. The downfield blocking was pretty good.”
That performance included touchdown runs covering 75, 74, 79 and 63 yards as the top-ranked Tigers stayed undefeated and won their SWW 2B League Mountain Division opener.
Napavine racked up 492 yards on the ground and 577 yards of total offense, and led 32-0 early in the third quarter.
“They’re the real deal,” Johnson said. “I knew coming in they’re one of the best teams I’ve seen in a long time. They’ve got size, they’ve got speed, great coaching — they got it all.”
The Tigers took control in a two-minute stretch midway through the first quarter, after fumbling away the ball on their opening possession. Demarest kept the ball on the first play from scrimmage and scooted 75 yards for a touchdown.
“Obviously, he’s fast, and obviously he’s a very talented kid,” Johnson said.
Napavine then opted for an onside kick — their first of the season — and recovered the ball on Adna’s 45-yard line. Four plays later Demarest found Lucas Dahl for a 42-yard touchdown, putting Napavine up 13-0 with 5:22 left in the opening frame.
Adna responded with a 17-play drive that ended with an incomplete fourth-down pass on Napavine’s 11-yard line, and five plays later Demarest took off on a 74-yard scoring run.
“He runs scared,” Fay joked. “He doesn’t want to get hit, so he runs fast, and I think that gives him another gear.”
The Pirates went three-and-out on their next drive, and two plays later Demarest disappeared into the light fog with a 79-yard touchdown run that pushed the lead to 26-0 midway through the second frame.
“We did a nice job of opening up some holes for him tonight, and took advantage of some things, and he’s able to change the game pretty quick,” Fay added. “That’s a big weapon, so hopefully our guys will continue to block for him up front.”
Gavin Parker, who added 14 carries for 115 yards and two scores for the Tigers, opened the second half with a 25-yard touchdown run to give Napavine a 32-0 lead. Adna then moved to a spread formation and found a little more success moving the ball, with quarterback Braden Thomas piling up 171 yards on 11 for 27 passing.
Cole Fay punched in a 2-yard touchdown for Adna’s first score late in the third, and Thomas ran one in from 9 yards out early in the fourth. Those touchdowns were sandwiched around Demarest’s final score, which came on a 63-yard run.
“We made a few adjustments and they played much better defense,” Johnson said of his team’s second-half work. “That spread gave us a good look. We got a lot of good plays off, and we competed the second half. I was really proud of (our guys). If we play a first half like the second half, that’s a 40-26 ballgame.”
Fay finished with 130 receiving yards on six catches, and ran 15 times for 54 yards.
“Ultimately our coaching staff made a good adjustment and our kids were able to execute it,” Fay said of the second-half change. “And then we put the Band-Aid on the wound there, so to speak, but I thought our kids just executed really well.”
Parker’s 48-yard run with just under nine minutes left in the game wrapped up the scoring.
The game was a rematch of last year’s State 2B semifinals, which Napavine won 32-13. That followed a Week 5 regular-season game that the Pirates had won, in Adna, 50-13.
“Our cup has got a ways to get full, and that’s what we talked about tonight. If we’re happy with this, then we saw what happened last year when we played Adna in Week 5, and then we’d be on the other end of that,” Fay said. “We’re going to have to continue to get better, or we’re going to peak, and it’s not going to be much fun down the stretch.”
Adna (3-2, 0-1 Mountain Division) now has a week off due to Life Christian dropping out of the Mountain Division to combine forces with Northwest Christian.
“We need it,” Johnson said. “And then we’ve just got to try to win out.”
Napavine (5-0, 1-0 league) continues Mountain Division play on Friday night against Morton-White Pass in Randle.
Fay cited the play of his offensive line, which includes Keith Olson, Grant Bennett, Adrian Medina, Hayden Thompson and Fernando Gaona. Sophomore Ashtin Landry also played well on both sides of the ball, he noted.
“We just didn’t think we’d played our best football yet,” he said. “I think our guys wanted to prove they could play some good football, and I thought they did. I thought we were pretty good.”