Tigers Blast Past Cougars Into Second Straight State Title Game


TUMWATER — Rolling to the tune of another running clock victory, the No. 1 Napavine football team easily dispatched No. 4 Jenkins (Chewelah), 49-6, to advance to its second straight state championship game.

Saturday afternoon at Tumwater District Stadium, the Tigers were their dominant selves once again, totaling 404 yards to Chewelah’s 59. The Cougars rushed for 61 and passed for minus-2. 

With Chewelah opting to stack the box and play without safety help for most of the game, the Tigers just took what the Cougars were giving them. 

“We knew they were going to put a lot of guys in the box and play cover zero,” Tigers coach Josh Fay said. “We gave Colin (Shields) and Karsen (Denault) an opportunity to get behind guys, Max (O’Neill) got behind for a score, we thought they would be able to do that if they wanted to play cover zero. Ashton (Demarest), give that kid a lot of credit, he’s not feeling good but he had a good day.”

Playing a bit under the weather, Demarest threw for five touchdowns and ran for another, with 299 passing yards. The quarterback exploited one-on-one coverage for most of the game, launching deft passes that fell right into the laps of Napavine’s speedy receivers. 

Denault racked up 210 receiving yards with two scores, and Shields added 32 yards with two more touchdowns. O’Neill also added a score in the win. 

“We knew they were playing man coverage so if I got around them, used my speed, and got over the top, we could score,” Denault said. “Ashton was throwing great balls, he’s been getting used to my speed all season, and we’ve gotten locked in.”

Where last year the Tigers relied on Lucas Dahl for most of their passing offense as the main threat, Denault, Shields, James Grose and company have given Napavine a more versatile passing game. Add Demarest, who is in command of the Tigers offense in his second season at the helm, and the Napavine offense has been nigh unstoppable heading into a state title matchup. 

“Those guys have done a great job, instead of having one or two of them we have five or six of them that are effective out there,” Fay said of the receivers. “That definitely makes a big difference for us when we can spread it around.”

The win sets up a matchup between the undefeated Tigers and the also unbeaten No. 2 Okanogan Bulldogs, who just defeated No. 3 Pe Ell-Willapa Valley, 42-14, in the other 2B semifinal at the Apple Bowl in Wenatchee. 

The Bulldogs closest win this season was a 34-7 victory over these same Chewelah Cougars back in September. 

“They’re a great football team, we tell our kids all the time we signed up to play good teams and to compete at the highest level and we’re going to get that opportunity next week,” Fay said. “They’re going to present a lot of problems for us and hopefully we present a couple for them too.”