Third Time’s the Charm for Napavine in Title Quest By Steve Dion
For the third straight year, the Napavine Tigers found themselves in the 2B Washington state championship game. Liberty (Spangle) wanted to play spoiler and end the Tigers quest for the illusive crown.
The Liberty (Spangle) Lancers scored the first points with a short field goal, but Napavine answered with 14 unanswered and took a 14-10 lead into halftime.
The Tigers kept the gas pedal on the floor and continued to pull away in the second half, scoring 13 more unanswered points in the 3rd quarter to take a 27-10 lead. The Lancers battled strong, but were unable to keep pace with the high octane Napavine offense. Lancers quarterback Garrett Rogers hooked up with Josh Larsen-Nowland late in the third to make it just an 11-point game going into the fourth.
Quarterback Wyatt Stanley kept the clock moving for Napavine by capturing big runs and keeping the Lancer offense off the field in the fourth quarter. On the 40th anniversary of their 1976 title, Napavine answered the call and brought the state title back to town by winning the 2A Washington state crown.
The Final Score:
Liberty (Spangle) 16, Napavine 34.
Top Performer: Napavine
Wyatt Stanley – 4 total TDs
2B Trophy Stays in Okanogan as Bulldogs Repeat By Steve Dion
The penultimate game of championship weekend at the Tacoma Dome showcased a repeat of the 2014 title game between the Okanogan Bulldogs and Napavine Tigers in which the Dogs were victorious by the score of 17-14. Competing for the crown a year ago was impressive for the Tigers considering the youth of their core contributing group of players, so getting back to the Woodshed in ’15 seemed like a very likely scenario. Erick Judd has done a fantastic job in guiding the defending champs through the postseason to give themselves the rare opportunity to go back-to-back. The only expectation heading into this game is that it would be exciting; the expected winner was a mystery.
Napavine won the coin toss and chose to defer to receive in the second half. Okanogan’s opening possession was interrupted by a strip by Chase Van Wyck that turned the ball over to Napavine. The Tigers marched 83 yards on a dozen plays to log the first touchdown of the game; a thirty-four yard completion to Jordan Purvis. Okanogan wasted no time to even the score when on the third play from scrimmage, they were in the endzone after Mason Guerette hauled in a 56 yard pass from Clay Ashworth. Van Wyck’s defensive effort earlier was rewarded on the offensive end when he recorded the second Napavine touchdown midway through the second quarter. Mac Fagerness got into the action too for the Tigers by catching a 34-yard touchdown of his own. Okanogan’s remaining points of the first half were the result of a 3 yard reception by Riley Prescott. The first half statistics were fairly even, but the glaring difference was the lone turnover of the game which resulted in a touchdown. At recess, Napavine led 20-14.
Coach Josh Fay certainly understood the importance of picking up a two-possession lead to open the second half and his team did exactly that. NHS moved the ball 64 yards to the one yard line and let their 6’3”, 225 pound junior quarterback Wyatt Stanley take care of the rest. Okanogan was unable to respond on the offensive end, but they got a minor lift from Napavine when they committed a safety after a botched snap that sailed through the endzone. The Tigers still held a two possession lead at 27-16, but the momentum was shifting back toward the Bulldogs.
Early into the fourth, Okanogan pulled closer when Greyson Fields punched it in from three yards out. Less than two minutes later, Guerette shook off multiple Tiger tacklers on the sideline and sprinted to the goal line to give OHS the lead. The shootout continued shortly thereafter when Fagerness miraculously hauled in a pass to the corner in double coverage then hurdled over a defender to retain the lead. The Napavine defense could not hold down the Dogs who found paydirt yet again on a Greyson Fields plunge. With 1:02 remaining on 4th and 1, Napavine needed a stop to keep their hopes of a game-winning drive alive. As the play clock was expiring, Clay Ashworth set up in the gun. He called out orders to his center then suddenly the Tiger defensive line jumped. Ashworth’s hard count was successful! This proved to be the final piece to line up in victory formation yet again. The hardware stays in Northeast Washington for another year. Expect Napavine to be in contention to contend for the title in 2016.
Napavine Advances to 2B Final, Looking to Avenge 2014 Outcome By Steve Dion
Sometimes, a slice or two of humble pie is necessary component to winning a state title. For Coach Josh Fay’s Napavine football team, the Tigers will have the chance to change the result of ’14 when they fell to Okanogan 17-14 in the championship game. Additionally, they would need to even the score against Pe Ell-Willapa Valley who beat Napavine in the regular season 28-27. Would the Tigers earn their opportunity to avenge what happened a year ago or would the Titans punch their ticket to the final?
The Tigers were successful in moving the ball and racking up yardage early in the first half with balanced attack, but did not convert their drives into points. It wasn’t until the second quarter when the Tigers finally found the scoreboard. Quarterback Wyatt Stanley contributed to both scores with one run and one pass to a diving Chase Van Wyck. These touchdowns occurred after the opening score by Pe-Ell Willapa Valley; a 5 yard touchdown run by Kaelin Jurek. The Tigers recorded 133 total offensive yards in the first half; 99 of which were through the air. Conversely, the Titans were limited to 62 yards all of which were on the ground. Would the defensive clamps break in the second half?
The Tigers extended their lead to start the third quarter on a methodical ten-play drive that led to a diving Mac Fagerness reception near the ten yard line where he proceeded to slither through several defenders. Trailing by 15, Pe Ell-Willapa Valley needed a response and they crafted one when Jurek busted through the Tiger goal line formation to cut the deficit. Coach Fluke opted to attempt a two-point conversion to make it a seven point game. The Napavine goal line held strong as Jurek could not repeat what he did a play ago and the Tigers maintained a two-score lead. This uphill battle eventually sunk Pe Ell’s chances to make a comeback and a late pick-six by Cole Van Wyck sealed the deal for the Tigers.
The 2B championship game will be a repeat of last season. After the game, Wyatt Stanley explained “everyone in the community is rallying behind us. It’s fun.” He also added, “We have to stay focused, have a good week of practice, and finish it.” Expect a different outlook by Napavine this time around.
The Final Score:
Napavine 29, Pe Ell-Willapa Valley 13
Okanogan’s First Half Enough For State Title Victory Over Napavine By Steven Dion
The 2014 edition of the Gridiron Classic featured the 2B championship game between Napavine and Okanogan. Northeast Washington’s representative in the Bulldogs shut out defending champions Lind-Ritzville Sprague in the semis 34-0 to earn their title game berth. The Tigers won a close contest over Toledo to get to the big dance. Luck is often an undervalued factor in sports, but the victor of this game can surely credit a few unusual bounces of the pigskin and a bend-don’t-break second half en route to a state championship.
Opening drives for both teams did not yield points as the defensive units for both squads showed early aggression. The Bulldogs were facing a third and long, so Benny Cate threw toward Jimmy Townsend on the right hashmarks. However, there were two Tigers in coverage with one in position to intercept. The ball glanced off the defender’s hands to Townsend who grabbed the still airborne football for a fluky 61 yard score. Before the first frame ended, Arnulfo Tacked on a 27 yard field goal to give Okanogan an early double-digit lead. Despite the deficit, Napavine’s roster has talent which would make a comeback a likely scenario.
Before the first half concluded, Okanogan tested their fortunes on another play that could have gone wrong. Cate threw a dart downfield and his receiver was scampering to the endzone, but before he got there, the ball popped loose. Payton Staggs was able to pounce on the football which was laying in the endzone for any taker. At the half, Eastern Washington was leading its Western counterpart 17-0.
If Napavine were to mount a comeback in the second half, Brady Woodrum would have to continue to receive plenty of touches. Five of his 77 total rushing yards amounted to the Tigers getting on the scoreboard with over eighteen minutes of play remaining. This fired up Napavine and the momentum was shifting. Shortly after the touchdown drive, the Tigers had an opportunity to kick a field goal to cut the lead. No good. The NHS defense held and allowed for another field goal attempt. Missed. Time was running out, but Napavine still had a pulse. Wyatt Stanley connected with Mac Fagerness from 27 yard with 3 minutes remaining for a touchdown. Using timeouts wisely, the Tigers had the ball with a minute left to tie or take the lead. Okanogan was able to force a fumble on the quarterback as he about to throw the ball downfield to a receiver. Despite being shut out in the second half, Okanogan is the 2B champion by the score of 17-14.
The FinalScore – Okanogan 17, Napavine 14.
Top Performers: Okanogan
Jimmy Townsend- 61 yard TD rec, forced fumble, INT
Napavine had yet to be tested prior to this contest. Their margin of victory has been off the charts, and they already placed a 36-6 rout on the visiting Toledo Indians. But that didn’t stop the Indians from fighting until literally the very last play.
With just 3 yards (yes 3 yards) of total offense in the first half, the Toledo Indians fought and clawed their way to a 14-7 deficit at half. Their only score, a 76 yard kickoff return for a TD following a Mac Fagerness TD catch brought them even with the high powered Napavine offense. Napavine was able to sneak in another Fagerness catch with just 7 seconds left in the half, taking the 14-7 lead. The stats were unbelievably misbalanced at this time. Total yards were 225-3 in favor of the Tigers.
The second half saw constant action throughout. The heavy underdog Indians stormed back midway through the third with an amazing 56 yard pass and catch from Dalton Yoder to Grant McEwen. They added another score early in the fourth, taking the lead in a game they where they were heavily outgained in yards. Unfortunately the PAT for Toledo was blocked, but they still held a 20-14 lead early in the fourth.
Napavine answered, as a championship caliber team does, with a march and score. Sam Fagerness this time, Mac’s brother, caught a 29 yard pass from Wyatt Stanley, his third on the day. The PAT was up and good, and the Tigers took a 21-20 lead. After a punt, the Tigers got the ball back, marched again, and scored again on another Stanley pass, his fourth of the day!
This final score put the game out of reach for the Indians, who added a safety on the final play to end the contest 28-22. What a game!
The FinalScore – Napavine 28, Toledo 22.
Top Performers: Toledo
Dalton Yoder – 4-11 for 85 yards and 2 TD
Grant McEwen – 3 catches for 74 yards and 2 TD
Wyatt Stanley – 10-21 for 161 yards and 4 TD
Mac Fagerness – 6 catches for 65 yards and 2 TD
In the 2B playoffs round of sixteen, Sedro-Woolley hosted the Concrete Lions and the Napavine Tigers on a chilly Saturday afternoon. Napavine’s fans came all the way from south of Chehalis, a close to 300 mile round trip to watch their Tigers put on a show, and the athletes did not disappoint.
Concrete jumped out to an early 8-0 lead on a 2 yard rush by senior Josh Rogge and a successful 2-point try. Napavine quickly answered with a 4 yard quarterback draw by Brady Woodrum to cut the lead to 8-7. The Tigers then forced a Lion punt and struck again on a long pass from freshman Wyatt Stanley to classmate Mark Fagerness to take a 14-8 lead. Concrete answered on their next drive with another 2 yard run, this time by Gibson Fichter, and a successful 2-point try by Fichter to take the lead back from the tigers, 16-14.
But the Lions would fail to see the endzone again on the day and Napavine began pouring on the points. Two more Wyatt Stanley touchdown passes and two more rushing touchdowns closed the contest for the Tigers, who pitched a shut out in the second half against a strong Concrete club. Napavine took care of business and will advance to the state quarterfinals with a 44-16 victory.
Wyatt Stanley – 3 TD passes of 30, 11, and 11 yards