Vikings tasked with slowing down potent WCK offense in semifinal


Eric Ollikainen first joined the coaching staff at Mossyrock when the Vikings still played 11-man football, but in the past three years has gotten more than used to the numbers seen in the 8-man game. Following Mossyrock’s 46-30 win over Almira-Coulee-Hartline, he joked that the game had been “low-scoring.” Indeed, the Vikings scored the fewest out of any of the four quarterfinal winners in the 1B state tournament.

But even he did a bit of a double take when he saw the scoreline by which Wilbur-Creston-Keller beat Naselle:


“Ninety-eight points, that’s crazy,” Ollikainen said “That’s like an NBA game.”

Now, that offense is what awaits Mossyrock in Moses Lake next Saturday at noon for the Vikings’ first state semifinal since 1999, with a trip to Husky Stadium for the state title game on the line.

Those 98 points were by far the best offensive output for the undefeated Wildcats this season, but they’ve been giving scoreboard operators across eastern Washington plenty of work all fall, hitting 80 points once and 70 two other times.

But WCK isn’t doing it by spreading things out; they’re going to pack it in as much as the Vikings themselves love to.

“They’re really kind of an option football team,” Ollikainen said. “They have the ability to throw, and they’ll take advantage of it if you sell out too much. But it’s just really, really good triple-option football. 

“It’s almost like Onalaska; they do it, and they do it really well. They have wrinkles, so everything you try, they have answers for. It’s going to be a really good challenge for us.”

Naselle found that out the hard way last Saturday, as WCK put up 30 points in each of the first two quarters. Kalub Dreger ran for 396 yards and six touchdowns, while secondary back Preston Michel had 158 yards and three touchdown runs — and another on a kick return — and quarterback Kallen Maioho scored twice.

Of the Wildcats’ 13 touchdowns against the Comets, eight were over 30 yards long.

“One broken tackle, and they’re off to the races,” Ollikainen said. “We just have to be solid, and make every tackle.”

While the Wildcats’ numbers sure were gaudy, Ollikainen is actually happy to see their smashmouth style on the docket, after Mossyrock got all it could handle from Almira-Coulee-Hartline’s spread attack in Tenino last weekend. Warrior quarterback Caden Correia took advantage of the extra space on the field to rack up 344 yards on 21-of-36 passing, with screens and mesh routes wreaking havoc on the Vikings for three quarters.

Things finally changed in the fourth quarter, when Charlie Edgar jumped a screen for a crucial interception, and lineman Cameron Kuberth finally got through to Correia for a sack to put the Warriors well behind the sticks and snuff out another drive.

That quarterfinal was a stark contrast of styles, while Ollikainen sees a lot more in common with WCK’s identity.

“I’m not saying it’s not going to be a great challenge for us, but it plays into our hands a little bit better than a passing team,” he said. “But it doesn’t mean that they don’t have the ability to put some points on us.”

Everyone Wilbur-Creston-Keller has played this year has found that out, though nobody’s been able to figure it out.