NAPAVINE — The Tigers came out of Friday’s top-billed 2B matchup with a few areas in need of improvement and one close win.
In typical fashion, they’re focused on the former more than the latter.
Both new-to-the position quarterbacks put up big numbers, and No. 2 Napavine held on to its lead through a wild fourth quarter for a 33-27 win over top-ranked Kalama.
It’s the first win over the Chinooks since 2016 for the Tigers, who lost in the semifinals in 2017 and the finals last year to Kalama.
It was also the first time in four years that the game didn’t feature Alex Dyer at quarterback for the Chinooks or a Stanley at quarterback for Napavine — though that didn’t slow the offensive production at the position for either side.
Kalama sophomore Jackson Esary ran for 110 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries, with 212 passing yards, while Napavine junior Laythan Demarest ran 21 times for 157 yards and three scores and hit 7 of 8 passes for 76 yards and a score.
The Tigers built a 27-7 lead by the middle of the third quarter, but after a dustup on the tail end of a play — which resulted in a handful of flags on the field, extracurricular shoving and jawing, and a Napavine player relegated to the sidelines for the remainder of the game.
“We have to have some level of composure,” Napavine coach Josh Fay said. “It’s not smart football. We’re going to have to be smarter if we want to go where we think we can go. You do dumb things against a football team like that, and the result is they get back in the game.”
And the Chinooks did get back in the game. Esary hit Brennon Vance for a 14-yard touchdown — set up by a reverse flea-flicker pass from Vance to Esary — but three minutes later Demarest broke through on an 8-yard run that put the Tigers up 33-14.
The Chinooks, though, went back to the depths of their playbook. A hook-and-ladder from Esary to Max Cox, with the pitch to Vance, turned into a 52-yard touchdown, and with 40 seconds left Esary rattled off a 47-yard touchdown run to cut it to 33-27.
The Chinooks tried an onside kick, but the short bounce didn’t make it the requisite 10 yards and the Tigers were able to run out the clock to seal the win.
“They’re a tough team,” Demarest said. “We knew that right from the beginning. I’m not happy how we ended, but we started off the first half pretty good and executed the game plan.”
Outside of a 59-yard touchdown catch from Vance on the Chinooks’ third play, Napavine’s defense was sound through the first half, allowing 121 yards — only 35 of which came on the ground.
“In the first half we’re one coverage breakdown away from pitching a shutout, and that’s the coverage,” Fay said. “That’s not good. That’s not acceptable for us to just blow an assignment, but I thought we did some really good things.”
Offensively, though, the Tigers piled up 384 rushing yards and only went backwards on botched shotgun snaps. Tanner Low ran nine times for 70 yards and a touchdown, and caught a 9-yard touchdown pass, and Lucas Dahl ran eight times for 85 yards.
Demarest scored on runs of 46 and 58 yards in the first half. Low’s receiving touchdown came midway through the second quarter and put the Tigers up 20-7 at halftime.
“A lot of it’s my offensive line. They did great tonight,” Demarest said of the rushing attack. “Our running backs, lead blocking, they did a great job, and I think our offense executed tonight.”
Like Fay, though, Demarest noted there was one key takeaway from the outing, aside from the outcome.
“We should have took adversity a little better. We kind of got into our own heads a little bit in the third quarter,” Demarest said. “We just need to get out of our own heads and come back next week and get a W.”
Napavine (2-0) hosts Toledo (2-0) on Friday night. Kalama (1-1) hosts Adna (2-0) on Friday night.
Notes: Kalama’s Max Cox caught nine passes for 141 yards. … Esary and Demarest were both starters in last year’s State 2B championship game, but at receiver. Napavine’s last win over Kalama came in the first round of the 2016 state playoffs.