LAKEWOOD — The first half had a bit of a back-and-forth feel, with the defending state champion Chinooks keeping things close and building late momentum.
As it turned out, though, the first half was just the Loggers finding their footing on the 2B classification’s biggest stage.
Onalaska spent the second half following the script it had established throughout the entire season here Saturday night, running the ball to the tune of 236 yards and ending Kalama’s two-year hold on the gold ball with a 48-30 win in the State 2B championship football game at Harry Lang Stadium.
Ashton Haight piled up a championship-game record 42 carries for 207 yards and two touchdowns, Cade Lawrence scored three times with 137 yards of offense, and Onalaska finished the season undefeated to win its first state title since 1986.
Sophomore quarterback Jackson Esary completed 20 of 35 passes for 265 yards and three touchdowns for the Chinooks, and added a 91-yard kickoff return late in the fourth quarter.
By that point, though, the Loggers had built a big enough lead to withstand one of the Chinooks’ frequent late-game rallies.
Onalaska led 18-14 at halftime, thanks to touchdown runs from Haight (4 yards) and quarterback Lucas Kreger (10 yards) and a first-quarter safety off a blocked punt. Kalama, however, cut the lead to a single possession when Vance made a tip-toe catch in the back of the end zone on a pass from a scrambling Esary with 53 seconds left before the break.
The Chinooks’ momentum didn’t last into the third quarter.
“They came out pretty hot, and it was just like everyone on our team was shook a little bit,” Haight said. “We’ve never been in this spot before, and once we got everything cooled down we were able to do whatever we wanted. And then it turned out really well.”
The Loggers, who ran their way to a SWW 2B League Mountain Division championship, the No. 1 seed in the state playoffs, and the title game, took the kickoff in the third quarter, settled in on their own 32-yard line and went to work. Haight carried the ball on eight straight plays — covering 41 yards — before Lawrence took a pitch, cut up the left side and zipped 32 yards into the end zone.
“It was big time,” Logger coach Mazen Saade said of the drive. “Cade hits that toss over here and just takes off, and we’re like, ‘There it is.’”
Kalama’s next drive stalled at midfield, and two plays later Lawrence was back in the end zone on a 46-yard run to push the lead to 32-14.
“I don’t think we were as mentally prepared as we wanted to be in the first half,” Kreger said. “Coming into the second half — I mean, it wasn’t some hoo-rah speech in the locker room, or anything special. We knew what we needed to do, and we got it done.”
The Chinooks weren’t finished — scoring on their next drive when Esary, again, escaped pressure to find Vance for a 17-yard touchdown — but the Logger run game had plenty left in the tank.
Onalaska put together an 11-play, 80-yard drive to eat nearly five minutes of clock. Haight took nine of the carries, and during the last of those he broke through the line, bounced between two defenders and shook off a third just before the goal line on a 20-yard touchdown scamper to put the lead at 40-22 early in the fourth.
Kalama’s next drive covered nine plays but stalled, and the Loggers responded with a three-and-out and their only punt of the game. Kreger capped the next drive with a 10-yard, fourth-down touchdown pass to Lawrence that left Kalama just three minutes to play catch-up.
The Chinooks needed far less than that, with Esary running back the ensuing kickoff and then ducking a handful of tackles to run in the extra points.
The 48-30 lead, though, was as close as Kalama would come. Haight ran the ball on the next four plays, picking up the two first downs Onalaska needed to run out the clock.
Kreger finished 5 of 7 passing for 84 yards, and added 26 rushing yards on eight carries. Lawrence caught two passes for 41 yards and ran for 95 yards on five second-half carries.
Onalaska finished with 416 yards of offense, 332 of which came on 58 run plays.
Vance, a senior, caught seven passes for 88 yards, while Jack Doerty nabbed five passes for 102 yards to lead the Chinooks. Max Cox added six catches for 66 yards for Kalama, which finished the season with a 10-3 record after winning the 2017 and 2018 state titles.
Onalaska finished the season with a 13-0 record. It was the first state title for Saade, in his ninth year as the Loggers’ head coach, and the fourth-straight championship for a District 4 school.