Instant: Napavine falls to Okanogan in 2B state title game


Napavine’s quest for a second straight state championship came to a disappointing end on Saturday, as the Tigers fell to the Okanogan Bulldogs 28-24 in the 2B state championship game rematch at Husky Stadium.

Napavine topped Okanogan last fall, but on Saturday, they couldn’t slow down the Bulldog rushing attack, allowing 267 yards on the ground.

The Bulldogs started fast, going 75 yards on five plays in under two minutes to take a 6-0 lead.

After the two teams traded punts, Napavine responded, as Ashton Demarest punched it into the end zone from a yard out to tie the game at six.

The Bulldogs responded with a long, methodical drive, taking over seven minutes off the clock while marching 67 yards to retake the lead.

The lead held until the half, but the Tigers came out of the half with a 10-play, 64-yard drive of their own, capped by a 3-yard touchdown rush from Cayle Kelly. They didn’t convert on the two-point conversion, however, so they still trailed 14-12.

Napavine didn’t trail much longer, however, as a Conner Holmes interception led to a 21-yard touchdown pass from Ashton Demarest to James Grose, one that gave the Tigers an 18-14 lead.

From there, however, the Bulldogs seized control, first by retaking the lead with a six-yard touchdown run from Carter Kuchenbuch, then by forcing a Napavine punt to regain possession with just under seven minutes to play.

It took the Bulldogs just five plays to get back to the one, and Kuchenbach punched in the touchdown and ensuing two-point conversion to give the Bulldogs a two-score lead with less than five minutes to play.

Ashton Demarest threw an interception on the next drive, but after a defensive stop, he found Karsen Denault on a 28-yard touchdown to make it 28-24 with just over a minute remaining.

Having already used all of their timeouts, the Tigers needed to recover an onside kick, and although the onside attempt bounced around unclaimed for a few seconds, a Bulldog eventually fell on it to seal the win.

David Huffstetler had his way on the ground all game for Okanogan, rushing for 191 yards on 30 carries. Kuchenbach finished the day with 70 yards on the ground, and he scored all four Okanogan touchdowns.

After completing just two passes in the first half, Demarest picked it up in the second, finishing 12 for 20 with 141 yards and two touchdowns through the air while rushing for 23 yards and a score on the ground. Cayle Kelly hauled in six receptions for 57 yards and added 18 yards and a touchdown on the ground.

James Grose came down with three receptions and 48 yards and a touchdown. Denault, who played his first game since breaking his collarbone midseason, hauled in two passes for 33 yards and a late score. 

Brody Landram was all over the field defensively, recording a game-high 16.5 tackles. Napavine finishes its season 11-2.