Spudders going to state football for first time since 2005, while the Hawks loved being home for a playoff
Two Class 2A Greater St. Helens League teams were in action Saturday.
One team accustomed to the playoffs had a rare home game.
Another team just getting back to the playoffs also celebrated a big game on campus.
And by the end of the day, both punched tickets to the state playoffs.
Two-time defending state champion Hockinson had no trouble with Centralia, beating the Tigers 59-7 in an afternoon game at Hockinson High School.
The Hawks normally have to play home games at neutral sites on turf because of their grass field. And while it did rain lightly Saturday, the lack of rain for the last month meant the field was still in good condition. So the Hawks got to perform at home.
At Ridgefield, the football program had won three games total the past two years. Any playoff game, home or away, is an achievement. That the Spudders earned the No. 2 seed from the GSHL was a big deal to them.
Then they went out and proved it Saturday night with a 49-6 victory over Aberdeen. The win sends the Spudders to the state playoffs for the first time since 2005.
Hunter Abrams rushed for 145 yards and four touchdowns, and the Ridgefield defense figured out a different style of offense to reach the sweet 16.
“We’ve been grinding the past few years. The scoreboard hasn’t shown it, but we’ve been working for this,” Abrams said. “We’re putting together a season, and I’m hyped.”
Defensive back Spenser Harmon said this season has been “crazy good.”
“I had a feeling about my last year. I had a great feeling,” the senior said. “I love this program. I love being in this small town.”
He said it was a combination of a great work ethic and new coaches breathing some life into the program.
“I’m just grateful. I’m very honored to be with this coaching staff and with my buddies I’ve been playing with for six years if you include middle school,” Harmon said.
Abrams scored the team’s first three touchdowns in the first half for a 20-6 lead at the break. He added another score early in the third quarter.
The Spudders went to the air with Josh Mansur catching a 30-yard pass from Luke Price that made it 35-7 midway through the third quarter, pretty much sealing the victory.
Sam Everett and Tanner Roberts scored in the fourth quarter to keep the celebration going on in Ridgefield.
“It was so amazing,” Abrams said of playing a home playoff game. “The fans have been great, always. They showed up tonight. They were loud.”
The crowd, and the new coach, loved what they saw.
“I’m just super proud,” coach Scott Rice said. “The kids, everything we’ve asked them to do, they’ve done with a smile on their face.”
Coming into this game, after a rough past couple of years, it would have been easy for the Spudders to just be satisfied with making it to the district playoffs, the coach said.
“They weren’t. They came out and wanted to fight and play another game next week,” Rice said.
As far as the Hawks, they enjoyed their first true home playoff game since 2006.
“We had the home-field advantage. We had a lot more energy than they did because we had our community out here supporting us,” said Liam Mallory, who had a touchdown run, a touchdown reception, as well as two interceptions for the Hockinson defense.
“We have more community here, more people to support our team. It’s just awesome,” added Jake Talarico, who was in on several big plays for the defense.
In fact, Centralia’s only score was a defensive TD, so in a way, the Hawks defense can say they got a shutout.
The Hawks also scored on defense. Andre Northrup returned a fumble for a touchdown in the first minute of the game.
Talirico had a first-quarter sack for a loss of 13 yards that led Centralia to punt.
“We practiced all week on their formations,” Talirico said. “I think we dominated.”
He said it is difficult to shut down an opponent, but the Hawks just worked on doing just that.
On offense, the Hawks were clicking but not in their usual ways. Quarterback Levi Crum did not throw for many yards, largely because he didn’t need to, but he rushed for 110 yards on six carries, and he had two touchdowns. Daniel Thompson needed just seven carries to rush for 118 yards and a score. Makaio Juarez had two carries for two touchdowns, totalling 95 yards.
In all, the Hawks rushed for 381 yards.
Now, the Hawks wait for Sunday’s seeding to determine who they will play next week in the first round at state. That will be a “home” game but likely at a neutral site with turf.
The Hawks understand the deal. They know what the playoffs are all about as the two-time defending state champions. Hockinson has been hit hard with injuries this season, but their championship mentality remains.
“We got all these guys who are stepping up and breaking through,” Mallory said. “We still have plenty of dudes to make this run. State championship is always going to be our goal. This program is built on going all the way to the top.”
“Nothing changes,” Talarico added. “Someone gets hurt, we just keep fighting for them. We’re a brotherhood, so we just keep fighting.”
In another Week 10 playoff on Saturday: The Union Titans made it a clean sweep for the Class 4A Greater St. Helens League. The Titans, the defending state champions, went on the road at beat Mount Rainier 42-6 to make it to state.
Camas, the No. 1 seed, and Skyview, the No. 2 seed, won Friday, giving the 4A GSHL three of the 16 spots in the state bracket.
HOCKINSON 59, CENTRALIA 7
Centralia 0 0 7 0 — 7
Hockinson 12 19 28 0 — 59
H — Andre Northrup 38 fumble return (kick failed)
H — Liam Mallory 23 run (run failed)
H — Levi Crum 57 run (pass failed)
H — Crum 12 run (run failed)
H — Mallory 26 pass from Crum (John Charles kick)
C — Blaine Wass 48 fumble return (kick good)
H — Dakota Souders 60 kickoff return (Charles kick)
H — Makaio Juarez 30 run (Charles kick)
H — Daniel Thompson 67 run (Charles kick)
H — Juarez 65 yards (Charles kick)
RUSHING: Centralia — Caleb Simpson 6-12, Chase Sobelesky-Reynolds 9-50, Cameron Erickson 5-(minus 10), Kyler Lavato 3-3, Braidyn Hoyt 6-13, Wass 1-(minus 2). Hockinson — Daniel Thompson 7-118, Crum 6-110, Mallory 1-23, Cody Wheeler 5-37, Juarez 2-95, Team 1-(minus 2).
PASSING: Centralia — Erickson 10-21-2-111. Hockinson — Crum 6-16-1-48.
RECEIVING: Centralia — Crystian Bean 1-19, Derek Beairsto 1-5, Wass 1-8, Sobelesky-Reynolds 3-47, Alejandro Valencia 4-32. Hockinson — Juarez 1-0, Jeremiah Faulstick 1-18, Wheeler 1-3, Mallory 1-26, Chase Roush 1-1, Northrup 1-0.
RIDGEFIELD 49, ABERDEEN 6
Aberdeen 0 6 0 6—6
Ridgefield 7 13 15 14—49
R — Hunter Abrams 2 run (Matthew Torres kick)
R — Abrams 4 run (Torres kick)
A — Ethan Morrill 7 run (pass failed)
R — Abrams 2 run (kick failed)
R — Abrams 1 (Torres kick)
R — Josh Mansur 30 pass from Luke Price (Trey Knight pass from Parker Bondegard)
R — Sam Everett 1 run (Bondegard kick)
R — Tanner Roberts 1 run (Bondegard kick)
RUSHING: Aberdeen — Dylan Richie 14-68, Morrill 24-166, Connar Sherman 9-32, Cody Bemis 2-(minus 1), Giovanni Pisani 1-(minus 5), Patrick Hunt 1-1. Ridgefield — Hunter Abrams 19-145, Knight 5-77, Price 3-25, Tanner Roberts 9-40, Everett 5-20.
PASSING: Aberdeen — Bemis 2-5-0-16, Sherman 0-2-1-0. Ridgefield — Luke Price 5-11-0-126
RECEIVING: Aberdeen — Austin Neely 1-19, Morrill 1-(minus 3.) Ridgefield — Mansur 2-56, Spenser Harmon 1-21, Torres 1-23, Clay Madsen 1-26