Kamiakin aiming for MCC football title

Tri-City HeraldAugust 27, 2015

Last season, the Kamiakin Braves were a very good team that played against — and lost to — three great teams: Hermiston (the Oregon Class 5A champion), Chiawana (which reached the Class 4A state title game) and Shadle Park (a Class 3A quarterfinalist).

This season, the Braves plan to be the great team laying waste to every opponent in its path.

“I think we’re going all the way. With the way we attack each other, this kind of intensity is going to carry us far,” senior receiver/defensive back Gavin Crow said.

With seven starters returning on both sides of the ball, and Division I-caliber talent anchoring every unit, Kamiakin might have to be the favorite to overtake perennial power Chiawana as the Mid-Columbia Conference champions.

Braves coach Scott Biglin likes the way his team has worked together not just on the field but starting eight months ago, right after their 2014 season-ending loss to Shadle Park.

“This is one of the stronger, closer teams I’ve had to coach. It comes from them being together so much, from being in the weight room together,” said Biglin, in his seventh season as Kamiakin coach. “I see them barking and griping at each other when they’re not working hard. That’s a sign of a together team.”

One of the Braves’ many strengths this year — and certainly the biggest physically — is their talent in the trenches, where Korbin Sorenson, Austin Crawford and Wyatt Musser will anchor a mammoth offensive line.

“I don’t know how talented we are yet. We haven’t hit the field. We’ll see how it goes (next) Saturday, then we can make a judgement on them,” Biglin said. “It’s definitely one of the biggest offensive lines we’ve had. They’re not just big and overweight. They’re lean and cut, and they can move. In our system, and what (offensive line coach Gilbert) Marquez has them doing makes them a perfect fit for us.”

Top returners

OL Sorenson and DL Crawford are returning first-team all-MCC performers and are poised for big years.

“Crawford has a chance to be a very special defensive end. He’s probably our strongest kid, and he looks the part. He’s going to be a force,” Biglin said.

Another top performer is WR/DB Jace Navejas, the Braves’ top receiver last year (21 catches, 395 yards, 4 TDs). He led the MCC with 18.8 yards per catch.

Biglin is also a big fan of returning all-MCC DB Darreon Moore, a starter since his freshman season who is drawing plenty of D-I interest.

“His whole role in the leadership department thrived this summer and in the offseason,” Biglin said. “He’s a different man, and I think it’s going to show on Friday nights.”

Role players

Kamiakin has the tough task of replacing RB T.J. Faamausili, who earned second-team all-state honors with 1,291 yards and 18 rushing touchdowns. But Biglin is confident that a committee approach could yield some good things.

“Mike Jones (284 yards, 6.4 avg., 4 TDs) is a powerful running back, and he’ll do his thing. We’ve also got Justin Larsen, who ran for us last year. He could have had a big year, but T.J. just took over,” Biglin said, noting that John Mantanona and Jethro Questad could also contribute.

Key to success

Solid offensive line play and defensive intensity are critical to Kamiakin’s success.

“Our defensive backs are going to be very good. In (defensive coordinator Ted) Maher’s system of playing man-to-man and letting guys blitz, I look for them to do good things,” Biglin said.

Zach Borisch earned the starting quarterback role and could be one of the breakout surprises in the MCC this year.

“The biggest thing I like about him is he just wants to do well,” Biglin said. “When he was a sophomore, I tested him to see how much he could take. We really rode him, and he was like, ‘Give me more.’

“Seeing that, I knew he would be really special.”

Big games: The Braves open the season at Ferndale at 5 p.m. Sept. 5; Hermiston, 7 p.m. Sept. 11 at Lampson. Chiawana 7 p.m. Oct. 2 at Lampson.

2014 All Conference Selections

Congratulations to the 2014 MCC All-Conference Selections

1st Team

Darreon Moore - 10 - DB

Austin Crawford - 11 - DL

Tyler Herman - 12 - LB

Korbin Sorenson - 11 - OL

TJ Faamasili - 12 - RB

 

2nd Team

Jace Navejas - 11 - DB, WR

Austin Crawford - 11 - OL

 

Honorable Mention

Gavin Crow - 11 - DB

Dalton Tuveson - 12 - LB

 

Kamiakin downs Richland 21-14 in MCC football

Special to the Tri-City Herald

Austin Gutierrez had a different idea what his senior night would be. The Kamiakin receiver envisioned getting a win in his final regular-season home game at Lampson Stadium, but how he helped the Braves accomplish that was far from what happened Friday night.

He figured he’d catch a pass or two, maybe score a touchdown, possibly get an interception; not at anytime did he figured it would be playing quarterback.

But that’s how it all played out because of some off-the-field issues for the Braves this past week, thrusting Gutierrez behind center. Having not played quarterback since his freshman season, Gutierrez shook off some early nerves before leading the Braves to a second-half comeback in a 21-14 victory over the Richland Bombers.

So in the end, it wasn’t a matter how he and the Braves got the win, it was just a matter of getting the win.

“I didn’t find out until Monday that I would be playing quarterback,” said Gutierrez. “I just tried to step up and do my best.

“We really just wanted to come out and get this win.”

Gutierrez, who coach Scott Biglin says will be his starting quarterback next week against Walla Walla, completed all five of his passes after halftime, including a 10-yard strike to Jace Navejas to tie the game at 14 on the Braves’ first second-half drive.

“I was nervous every time I got ready for a game,” Biglin said. “I can imagine he was pretty nervous. He stepped up and did a great job tonight.”

Gutierrez ended his senior night and his first start as a varsity quarterback for the Braves (6-2, 5-1 MCC) by scoring the game-winning touchdown on a 1-yard run with 3:07 left in the game.

“We ran the same place twice,” said T.J. Faamausili. “We told him to just put his head down and run hard.”

Faamausili set up the winning touchdown with back-to-back runs of 35 and 28 yards to put the Braves at the Richland 3-yard line.

The Bombers (3-5, 3-3), who had won three of its last four games, could not get anything going on offense in the second half against the Braves defense. They had just five first downs and were only able to cross the Kamiakin 40-yard line once.

Richland tried to answer Gutierrez’ touchdown with a drive in the final minutes, but after getting inside the Kamiakin 35-yard line, it had a fourth-down pass tipped away with under a minute left.

“Any win is a good win,” Biglin said. “But when you beat a team with such history like Richland.”

Biglin added this win is also special for his kids in dealing with the adversity this week of losing a handful of players for undisclosed reasons.

“We told the kids they could use this as an excuse or they could use it as motivation,” Biglin said.