Saturday’s 2B Football: Loggers Rumble by Raymond and Ilwaco to Reach State

Kansas Tiebreaker: Onalaska Uses Backdoors Their Way Into the Big Dance

By Jordan Nailon

jnailon@chronline.com

Onalaska took a long, strange trip to clinch a berth to the state tournament. It even included a detour of sorts through Kansas, but now that they’re date to the big dance is set they’re clicking their heels in celebration and putting all the wrong turns and flat tires in the rearview mirror and concentrating on the road to Tacoma.

On Saturday night the Loggers survived a three-way Kansas style tiebreaker here at Tiger Stadium by defeating Raymond and Ilwaco in order to punch their ticket to the state tournament.

The one-off event set the teams up at the 25-yard line with alternating possessions to determine the winner. Whichever team scored more points in their possession won, and the other lost. Two losses and you’re out.

In the first match of the night Onalaska faced off with Raymond.

The Loggers started with the ball and promptly fumbled the snap on their first play. Luckily for the Loggers quarterback Lucas Kreger was able to recover the ball and picked up four yards. More importantly, his team was given another shot to score. A facemask penalty on the Seagulls moved Onalaska forward and Ashton Haight picked up a first down on the next carry. A handoff to Cade Lawrence picked up seven yards and then Ashton Haight capped off the possession with a nine yard touchdown run. Haight also ran in the subsequent two-point conversion try.

When the Seagulls took over they immediately shot themselves in the foot with a holding penalty that pushed them backward. After a series of unfruitful runs Raymond was forced to throw a desperation pass toward the end zone on fourth down, which fell harmlessly to the turf to seal the win for the Loggers.

Onalaska coach Mazen Saade said that fumble on the first play was “like taking a short hop to the shorts” coming off of his team’s upset loss to Toledo on Thursday.

“We just wanted our kids to come in and play loose. We had a lot of fumbles against Toledo,” said Saade.

In the next matchup the Loggers faced Ilwaco with the Fishermen taking possession first. After a pair of plays for little to no gain and a penalty Ilwaco opted to throw a long pass on 4th down, and just like the Seagulls before them, for an unceremonious turnover on downs.

Taking over possession at the 25-yard line the Loggers handed the ball off to Haight twice for gians of five and six yards and then were befitted by an encroachment penalty by Ilwaco. Two snaps later Haight was again lumbering into the endzone with a four-yard touchdown run to seal the win.

Raymond and Ilwaco took a bit longer to figure out the victor. Ilwaco began with possession and converted on two fourth down attempts before quarterback Ethan Personius ran a touchdown in from four yards out and then turned in a two-point run for good measure.

Ilwaco took less time to score thanks to a pass interference on 4th and long that brought them down to the 13-yard line and wound up scoring on a one yard run.

On the Seagulls next possession they stalled out from the get go but managed to knock a 33-yard field goal through the uprights to take a three point lead. Taking over on defense the Seagulls utilized a bend but don’t break mentality and managed to stop the Fishermen on a run from the four yard line on fourth and one to clinch the shootout win.

That win by Raymond set up a rematch with Onalaska which the Seagulls would have had to win twice in order to advance to state.

The Loggers didn’t’ even entertain that notion.

In their penultimate showdown Raymond started with the ball and promptly fumbled before stalling out and settling for another field goal.

Those three points were not enough to keep the Loggers down though as they utilized a rare pass to Kyle Hamilton that served to loosen up the frontline of the Seagulls. On the next play Haight took another handoff and churned up a 22-yard for a touchdown that sent the Loggers to the round of 16.

Onalaska center BJ Cleveland-Barrera said he and his teammates came out with a mindset to prove that their loss on Thursday was a one-time aberration instead of the rule.

“Mainly it was to make sure we didn’t have as many mistakes as Thursday.”

“We just had to do what we had to do. Put everything aside from what happened earlier in the week,” said Cleveland-Barrera. “It’s awesome having the chance to go and having this second chance to get it done. I don’t have the words, honestly.”

Cleveland-Barrera gave credit to his fellow lineman for paving the way for the Loggers on Saturday.

“I believe we blocked everything up well on both sides,” he said.
Saade said he was confident that his team would fare well in the short field format, but he was just as ecstatic that everything fell into place.

“This team is completely built for 25-yards and in and they proved it real fast,” said Saade. “This is just a huge hump for this program to get over and it’s just awesome for this team and these kids to experience. Like we told them in the huddle down here, we backdoored our way in here and I don’t care how we got in this thing, we’re in the bracket of 16 so let’s go mix it up… It’s a new season and it’s a breath of fresh air. It’s incredible.”

Onalaska will find out who they play in the first round of the state tournament after the WIAA seeding committee convenes on Sunday.

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