Saturday’s State 2B Football: Loggers Crush TCP in Quarterfinals

Images from a State 2B football tournament quarterfinal game between Onalaska and Tri-Cities Prep at Tiger Stadium in Centralia on Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019.

STATE: Haight Runs for 320 Yards, 5 TDs as Onalaska Blanks High-Flying Jaguars 50-0

By Aaron VanTuyl

For The Chronicle

Stylistically, it was an interesting matchup — the undefeated, ground-bound Loggers welcoming high-flying Tri-Cities Prep to Centralia for a state quarterfinal matchup.

On Saturday, though, the intrigue proved to be far more hypothetical than practical.

Ashton Haight followed a stout offensive line for 320 yards and five touchdowns on 36 carries, the Loggers’ defensive backs picked off two first-half passes, and Onalaska kept its record pristine with a 50-0 State 2B quarterfinal win.

The record wasn’t the only thing pristine about the win. Playing on the turf at Centralia’s Tiger Stadium, the Logger jerseys were far more readable than usual once the final buzzer sounded.

“I didn’t know how we were going to perform,” Logger coach Mazen Saade joked. “There’s no mud on this field, so I wasn’t sure if we were going to be able to play without mud on the field. We had to bring a little bit of our own.”

The top-seeded Loggers (11-0) will now wrap their season, in some form, playing a District 4 opponent. They’ll take on No. 5 Adna (8-3) in the semifinals, while No. 2 Napavine or No. 10 Toledo will face No. 3 Kalama in the other state semifinal.

It’ll be their first semifinal berth since 1986, and it comes a year after losing to Adna in the 2018 quarterfinals.

“We’ve all been hyped. We’ve been wanting to go to the semis,” Haight said. “Last year … was the first time with Saade being a head coach that we made it to the quarters, so we wanted to at least make it a step farther this year.”

On Saturday, though, the focus was slowing down Tri-Cities Prep quarterback Dante Mauiri, a 6-foot-2, 215-pound junior who had passed for over 3200 yards with 34 touchdowns entering the quarterfinals.

“These kids played lights out today, I thought,” Saade said. “That’s a shutout in a quarterfinal game against a kid that throws it 30 times a game. (Defensive coordinator) Wayne Nelson had our defense tuned in.”

The fine-tuning showed early on. The Jaguars started with the ball, completed one pass, and then had their next tipped and picked off by Logger defensive back Cade Lawrence.

Lawrence broke off a 58-yard run on the Loggers’ second play. Three runs later Haight was in the end zone on a 4-yard run, and the Loggers had secured the only lead-change of the game.

The Jaguars’ next drive ended in a fourth-down incompletion, and Onalaska chewed five minutes off the game clock before Haight punched through on a 3-yard run. Tri-Cities Prep tossed another interception — this one nabbed by Spencer Hamilton — and eight plays later Haight scored on a 7-yard run, putting the Loggers up 22-0 with just under nine minutes left in the second quarter.

The senior fullback broke free for a 69-yard touchdown run two minutes later, staking the Loggers a 28-0 halftime advantage.

The only first-half drawback for the Loggers was the loss of senior quarterback Lucas Kreger, who was sidelined with a hip injury. Danny Dalsted took over under center, and the offense didn’t miss a beat.

“Next man up is kind of our motto,” Haight said. “Without Luke, it kind of sucked, but Danny Dalsted, he’s a junior, and he stepped up for us pretty well. Being able to step in like that as a junior, without really playing that much, is great.”

Saade agreed.

“Talk about a kid with a set,” Saade said. “He just stared it in the face. Our guys said, ‘You got this. We got you. Let’s play.’”

Haight added a 5-yard touchdown run in the third quarter, and Hazen Inman cashed in from 2 yards out early in the fourth. Marshal Haight — Ashton’s younger brother — took over at fullback with the starters on the sidelines after the 40-point running clock went into effect and added a 5-yard touchdown.

The Loggers finished with 515 rushing yards, with Lawrence adding 10 carries for 136 yards. Kreger, in limited action, ran three times for 25 yards and completed his only pass attempt for 15 yards and a first down to Hazen Inman.

Mauiri hit 22 of 40 passes for 204 yards, but the Jaguars managed just 17 yards on the ground and the quarterback was sacked four times. Landon Amato caught 10 passes for 116 yards to lead TCP, which finished the season 10-2.

Notes: Onalaska’s last semifinal appearance, back in 1986, was also against Adna; the Loggers won 25-6 and went on to beat Liberty (Spangle) for the state championship. … Saade said Kreger’s hip injury was not serious, and he is expected to be fully healthy for the state semifinals. … The Loggers beat Adna, 22-14, on October 25 in a regular-season game.

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