Saturday’s 2B Football: Underdog Napavine Headed Back to State Championship
UPSET: Stanley, Tigers Hand Adna First Loss, 32-13, in State 2B Semifinals
By Aaron VanTuyl
For The Chronicle
TUMWATER — There’s no question the Tigers were the underdogs.
Adna, the top-ranked team in the state, came into the State 2B semifinals with a flawless record. Adna hadn’t given up 20 points in any game.
And, most importantly, Adna had beaten Napavine decisively, by a 50-13 margin, back on Sept. 28.
But after a 32-13 victory in Saturday’s rematch at Sid Otton Field, Napavine was just fine with the underdog designation.
“We’ve got to remember Week 5. You’ve got to listen to all the guys that are telling us we can’t do it, and how good Adna is, and how we can’t get it done — so yeah, we felt like the underdog,” Napavine quarterback Dawson Stanley said. “We knew it coming in, so it feels great to get it done.”
Tiger coach Josh Fay, was a bit less subtle in his assessment.
“I think there’s a lot of crow getting eaten in Lewis County tonight,” he joked. “That bird might be on the endangered species list after tonight.”
The win means Napavine (11-2) heads to the Tacoma Dome on Friday afternoon to face defending state champion Kalama in the state finals. It’ll be the sixth meeting between the teams in the last three years; Kalama won the last three, including last year’s state semifinal contest.
Saturday’s game, though, was Stanley’s show. The senior hit 8 of 18 passes for 170 yards and two touchdowns and ran the ball 36 times for 237 yards and three more scores.
He was also at his best when it mattered most. With a 26-13 lead at the outset of the fourth quarter, Napavine started a drive from its own 17-yard line and kept the Pirates’ offense off the field for nearly seven minutes. Stanley carried the ball 12 times in the 13-play drive, picking up 67 yards and capping things with a 5-yard touchdown run that put the Tigers up 32-13 with 5:06 left on the clock.
“It’s pretty tiring, but you’ve just got to keep going and get one more,” Stanley said. “It was working.”
It was a far cry from the first time the teams met; Stanley completed just two passes and ran for 74 yards, and the Pirates turned things into a blowout in the second half.
“I thought the preparation was different, the focus — everybody knew what was at stake, and everybody remembered Week 5,” Stanley said. “So, for us, it was pretty simple: We come out, and do what we can do.”
And on the defensive side, Napavine was ready for Adna’s bread-and-butter power running game.
“The last time, they just shoved it down our throat, and we didn’t even know it was coming, because they prepared for a whole different game plan,” Tiger receiver and defensive back Ben Woodrum said. “This time we knew exactly what they were going to do, and we shoved it down their throat. They got out of it, and ran all their passing stuff instead of keeping running it.”
Napavine came out swinging, forcing a three-and-out on Adna’s first drive and scoring seven plays later on Stanley’s 1-yard dive into the end zone, after Stanley broke free for a 52-yard run on the first snap. Woodrum added a 23-yard reception, then intercepted a pass to end Adna’s next drive after three plays.
Stanley hit Woodrum twice more on the next drive, for a total of 23 yards, and Stanley was back in the end zone 7 minutes later on a 3-yard run.
Adna got on the board on its next possession. Sawyer Burdick took a handoff up the middle, ran into traffic, and pitched the ball backwards to Thomas, who zipped around the left side of that traffic and darted 73 yards to the end zone.
Napavine had chances to extend its lead — thanks to a pair of lost Pirate fumbles, recovered by Keith Olson and Stanley — but the Tigers didn’t complete a pass in the second quarter and their drives stalled.
Thomas, meanwhile, heated up, going 6 of 9 for 131 yards in the first half and hitting Brady Collins for a 31-yard touchdown that knotted things up at 13-13 in midway through the second frame.
Stanley hit Jared McCollum for a 45-yard touchdown two minutes into the third quarter, and six plays after an Adna punt hit a wide open Cade Evander for a 27-yard touchdown.
The Pirates were already shorthanded, with starting running back Chance Fay sidelined early on with an injury, and lost Collins — their top receiving target, with four catches for 74 yards — to an injury on that drive.
“When we lost that second captain, that was about all we could do,” Adna coach K.C. Johnson said. “You could see it in their eyes at that point. We were in a little bit of trouble.”
The Tigers forced a punt on Adna’s next drive, setting up the final Stanley-led scoring drive.
“I think that made (Stanley’s) life real easy tonight is that’s the absolute best that offensive line has played all year,” Fay said, pointing out linemen Keith Olson, Hayden Lester, Frank Medina, Hayden Thompson and Fernando Gaona. “They did a great job picking up blitzes, creating some holes, and Wilson did a nice job seeing some things, and then at the end of the day you let Dawson do what he does best, and that’s carry the football and throw the football and it starts with him.”
Thomas finished with 94 rushing yards on 14 carries, and hit 8 of 14 passes for 138 yards. Cole Fay added six carries for 40 yards.
“We knew everything that was coming. I mean, we knew the plays. They just came out and played their butts off,” Johnson said. “They played a great game. Hats off to Fay and (assistant coach Tyson) Wilson and those kids. They just played a great game.”
The Pirates finish the season with an 11-1 record, making the state semifinals for the first time since 2013.
“It can happen any night. That’s the bottom line. I know it. I’ve been doing this way too long. It doesn’t matter,” Johnson said. “I’ve seen a lot of teams go undefeated and get beat and a lot of teams that shouldn’t lose get beat. They are a much improved football team from the first time we played them and we knew that. We knew we needed to play well tonight and they played better.”
Napavine, meanwhile, was playing in the semifinals for the fifth year in a row, and will be back in the state finals for the fourth time in five years. The Tigers won the state championship in 2016, their last visit to the Tacoma Dome, and lost to Kalama, 20-13, in Kalama back on Sept. 7.
“It feels amazing,” Stanley said, of returning to Tacoma. “Kalama’s a good team, and (quarterback Alex) Dyer is a tough guy to stop. … So we’ll try to dial up a game plan and see what we can do.”
Fay chuckled when asked about his team’s odds in a rematch with the Chinooks.
“I’m sure they’re just as good as this week,” he said. “Kalama’s a good team. … We’re going to have to get some breaks and do some things right, but we’ll see how it goes.”
Napavine and Kalama face off in the Tacoma Dome at 4 p.m. Friday afternoon.
TIGERS 32, PIRATES 13
Napavine 13 0 13 6 —32
Adna 6 7 0 0 —13
NAP — Dawson Stanley 1-yard run; Laythan Demarest kick
NAP — Stanley 3-yard run; kick failed
ADN — Braden Thomas 73-yard run; kick failed
ADN — Thomas 31-yard pass to Brady Collins; Mitchell Maynard
NAP — Stanley 45-yard pass to Jared McCollum; Demarest kick
NAP — Stanley 27-yard pass to Cade Evander; pass failed
NAP — Stanley 5-yard run; kick failed
Team Stats NAP ADN
First Downs 17 9
Rushing Yards 282 146
Passing Yards 170 138
Total Yards 452 284
Comp-Att-Int 8-18-0 8-14-2
Fumbles/Lost 1/0 2/2
Penalties/Yards 3/25 6/45
Rushing: NAP — Stanley 36/237, Brett Bradshaw 4/25; ADN — Thomas 14/94, Cole Fay 6/40
Passing: NAP — Stanley 8-18/170; ADN — Thomas 8-14/138
Receiving: NAP — McCollum 2/72, Ben Woodrum 3/46; ADN — Collins 4/74, Cole Fay 2/36