The Cougars crushed Tenino 51-7 to advance to the state playoffs for the first time
Across the state, in terms of high school football, Seton Catholic is not a brand name.
Not yet anyway.
That could change in a hurry.
The Seton Catholic Cougars won their first postseason game in program history Friday night, qualifying for the Class 1A state football playoffs for the first time.
“We’re setting a legacy. That’s one of our covenants that we have as a team, setting a legacy for the future,” said Jacob Williams, who scored two touchdowns in the first quarter in Seton Catholic’s 51-7 win over Tenino.
While Seton Catholic has not made a name for itself throughout the state, no one at Seton Catholic is surprised to be playing beyond Week 10.
“These last two years, everybody saw this coming,” Williams said. “We knew what this could be, and we’re performing now. Now we’re here. Seton’s here.”
Seton Catholic is 9-1, and the lone blemish on the record was a one-point loss to Trico League champion and undefeated La Center. With that record, it is possible that Seton Catholic could get a home game in the first round at state. The WIAA will announce the seedings, and matchups for the first-round games, on Sunday.
No matter who the Cougars will face, no matter where that game is played, they have already accomplished more than any other Seton Catholic football team.
Dan Chase, now in his third tenure as the head coach, started this program in 2012. Back then, there was no Seton Catholic campus. No football field. The coaches packed the gear in the back of a pick-up truck and drove it to practice at a nearby public middle school. Every day.
Years later, Seton Catholic opened on its campus. Then the football stadium. Then the lights were installed.
Friday night lights had arrived.
And this Friday night was extra special.
“This is an amazing feeling to be part of this,” said Ryker Ruelas, who scored three touchdowns on offense and also had an interception on defense. “This is history. We’re building a culture here.”
Owen Pitzer celebrated his birthday with two interceptions for the Seton Catholic defense.
“I came here as a freshman. We weren’t really doing that good,” Pitzer said. “Our team has grown so much. This feels great.”
He looked up at the scoreboard.
“It just shows how much our team has accomplished,” he said.
Quarterback Kolten Gesser threw three touchdown passes. Joe Callerame had a 53-yard touchdown run.
Every athlete already named in this story is a junior. That’s because every Cougar, except for one, is a junior or younger.
Which made it all the more special when Ryan Stuck, the lone senior on the team, caught a 41-yard touchdown pass from Gesser.
Seton Catholic is here now, and Seton Catholic football is going to be here for some time.
Friday’s event was not just for the football team. It was for the whole school.
“Everyone’s pumped up. School has just been really fun, exciting,” said Nikki Moore, a captain on the cheer squad. “Everyone was talking about the game.”
Moore has had an interesting point of view. Injured, she has not been able to cheer with her teammates, so instead she has been in the student section all season, supporting the cheer squad and the football team. She said she is getting the best of both worlds.
The Seton Catholic Booster Club was loving the first home playoff game, too.
“We have our fan gear out here, and we have a new snack shop that we got this year. People are coming to the game who aren’t even Seton families now,” said Lisa Ackerman, the president of the booster club. “We’ve got the community coming.”
Her son Max is a junior on the football team.
“The kids have been preparing all week. The coach does a great job of creating a family, a brotherhood, with all the kids. That’s spilling out,” Lisa Ackerman said. “The teachers notice it, the environment at the school.”
She noted that it is not just football. All the fall sports at Seton Catholic have had success.
“It’s been a really fun time. Since we are such a small school, that involves a lot of kids,” Ackerman said. “A high percentage of the kids are involved in the sports here. That’s great.”
Before the game Friday, Chase talked about the mentality of just trying to be 1-0 this week. Win the week. Advance.
But he also took the time to consider what it meant, to actually be playing a home playoff game at Seton Catholic, under the lights, right in front of the school.
“Everything we believe at Seton Catholic is emulated on every playing field we have at Seton,” the coach said. “We always talk about building something. That’s every facet of our school. This is one of our facets, to elevate our school. The football program is here to build Seton Catholic.”
That football program arrived with a statement Friday night.
That football program is going to state.
Camas had no problem in its Week 10 Class 4A state preliminary round playoff, cruising past Federal Way 56-7. … Skyview also qualified for 4A state with a 49-21 win over Bethel. … Battle Ground’s season came to an end with a loss to Sumner.
La Center, the Trico League champion, took it to Elma in its 1A district playoff, winning 50-7.
Woodland, the 2A Greater St. Helens League champion, advanced to state with a district playoff win over Rochester. The Beavers won 33-8.
On Saturday, Mountain View will host Edmonds-Woodway at 1 p.m. at McKenzie Stadium in a Class 3A state preliminary round playoff.
There are also three 2A district playoff games involving Clark County teams on Saturday: Hudson’s Bay will be at W.F. West in Chehalis at 3 p.m. Washougal is hosting Aberdeen at 5 p.m., and Ridgefield will be at Tumwater at 7 p.m.
Committees are expected to announce seeds and matchups for all state brackets on Sunday.
- State basketball: Skyview among four schools celebrating two teamsThere are 10 teams from Clark County still playing in their state basketball tournaments and four schools — Skyview, Camas, Columbia River, and Skyview — are sending their boys and girls teams to this weekend’s opening round games.
- Chat with the Champions: Seven state wrestling champs from Clark CountyThere were seven state champions from Clark County schools at Mat Classic, and we reached out to all seven to see what life is like after winning it all in the Tacoma Dome.
- Clark County Today Sports Podcast, Feb. 22, 2024: A salute to wrestling champions and a look ahead to state basketballWe recorded this episode a few days after one of the biggest days in Clark County high school wrestling history, with seven state champions, including four from Skyview.
- 2024 Columbia River spring Chinook fishing seasons announcedFishery managers from Washington and Oregon on Wednesday approved this year’s recreational spring Chinook salmon fishing season for the Columbia River.
- High school basketball: Camas earns top seed for 4A girls tournamentCamas girls, Columbia River girls, and Seton Catholic boys get top-8 seeds, while seven other Clark County teams made it to state and will play elimination games this week.