Kamiakin stops O’Dea in overtime to win first state football title in school history

The Braves became the first team from east of the Cascades to win the Class 3A state football title since 1999, ending O’Dea’s bid to win its first state crown since 1995.

TACOMA — It’s easy to forget about Eastern Washington.

There’s the finicky mountain pass during the winter months and its endless sunny days during the summer that sometimes makes it seem so otherworldly from the western side of the state. It’s even worse when it comes to Class 3A football.

Since the turn of the century, no team east of the Cascades had won the Class 3A state title.

Kamiakin ended the drought on Friday night at the Tacoma Dome. With a 14-7 overtime win against top-ranked O’Dea, the Braves will travel back across the mountain pass with the football program’s first state championship. It’s also the first for the town of Kennewick.

“I’m living in a fantasy right now,” said Kamiakin quarterback Zach Borisch, who ran in the winning touchdown in overtime.

The Braves received help in OT from a 10-yard defensive penalty on O’Dea, placing the ball at the 15-yard line.

Kamiakin then capitalized when Borisch ran to his right and skimmed the pylon for a15-yard score.

O’Dea had its chance to counter, also starting at the 25-yard line according to high-school overtime rules. But Irish junior Jamyn Patu scrambled for a loss of 19 yards on first down.

His teammates managed to regain the yardage and got to fourth-and-one. Sophomore Mark Tafia was stopped at the line of scrimmage, sending Kamiakin into a frenzied celebration.

Braves coach Scott Biglin announced he’s retiring this season after 39 years coaching at the school.

“Once I realized that we stopped them, I broke down,” Biglin said, tearing up again. “It just hit me. It’s funny, this season I wasn’t reading stats. I wasn’t in to all of that, just smelling the roses each day. It’s been an honorable year for me to be with these kids.”

The teams combined for nine first downs in a scoreless opening half.

Patu didn’t find a gap in Kamiakin’s defense until the third quarter, breaking loose for 47 yards with 8:48 on the clock. He scored a 20-yard touchdown run on the next play to give the Irish a 7-0 lead.

Kamiakin found an answer late in the fourth quarter with a 53-yard touchdown pass from Borisch to Darreon Moore with 4:24 left in the game. Borisch completed 12 of 27 passes for 172 yards.

O’Dea had a chance to win at the end of regulation but missed a 29-yard field goal as time expired.

“We made a lot of adjustments at halftime and had to play for each other,” O’Dea senior defensive lineman Doug Russell said. “They (Kamiakin) just wanted a little more than we did and prepared a little harder.”

O’Dea’s quarterback troubles played a part in its inability to run the ball in the opening half. It played with fourth-string quarterback Emonte Scott, a 6-foot sophomore, due to injuries.

The Eastside has been shutout of the championship game the past five years. Kamiakin was the last, losing to Bellevue in 2010.

O’Dea hasn’t won a state title since 1995 and was last in title game when it lost to Bellevue in 2011.

Kamiakin halts Eastside Catholic, advance to 3A state title game - Tri City Herald

Zach Borisch had a hand in all four of Kamiakin’s touchdowns as the Braves slayed a giant Saturday at Pop Keeney Stadium, beating Eastside Catholic 30-27 in the Class 3A semifinals.

Kamiakin’s senior quarterback ran for 114 yards and two touchdowns in the first half alone and threw for a pair of second-half scores, and running back Jethro Questad accounted for 223 yards from scrimmage, helping send the Braves to the Class 3A state championship game for the first time since they finished as runners-up to Bellevue in 2010.

Kamiakin (11-2) next faces top-ranked O’Dea (13-0), a 35-9 winner over Meadowdale, at 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Tacoma Dome. Eastside Catholic (11-2) was denied its fifth consecutive championship appearance and a shot at three consecutive state titles.

“Right now we’re gonna relish in this victory, but we know what our job is,” Kamiakin coach Scott Biglin said. “Our job is not to win the semifinals; our job is to win a state championship.”

It’s a job still available thanks to Kamiakin’s perseverance after surrendering a seven-point halftime lead.

Eastside Catholic scored a pair of rushing touchdowns and a field goal to open the second half for a 27-17 lead. But Benson Smith gave the Braves their first spark of the third quarter when he returned a kickoff to the Crusaders’ 32-yard line — with the help of a horse collar penalty — to put Kamiakin in great field position.

“My guys blocked it well — they blocked so good today,” Smith said. “That’s what sprung me free was their blocking. All I had to do was run down the sideline.”

A couple plays later, Borisch slightly underthrew Smith at the goal line, and Eastside Catholic defensive back Jonathan Kvech tipped the ball straight up in the air. Smith maintained focus and ran back to the ball to catch it at the 1-yard line before walking in for a touchdown to cut the Crusaders’ lead to three.

“He tips it up in the air, and our motto as receivers is if the ball’s up in the air, go get it,” Smith said. “That’s what was going through my mind at that point, and it was great I was able to catch that ball.”

Smith’s impressive touchdown grab was equaled by Isaiah Brimmer’s catch on Kamiakin’s following drive, as he was being pushed out of bounds — pass interference was called on the play — while Borisch’s pass was in the air. Brimmer still hauled it in while tapping a toe in the end zone for the 14-yard score.

Brimmer made what was essentially the game-sealing play when he intercepted Eastside Catholic quarterback Ze’Shaun Lewis with a little more than a minute left.

Playing against one of the top defenses he’d come up against this season, Borisch said his faith in the team’s receivers carried the Braves.

“When the game’s on the line, I can go to every single one of them. There’s not one single one where I’m like, ‘That’s my go-to guy,’ because they’re all great,” Borisch said. “Isaiah had a great catch, and we love to go to him. Game is on the line, and Isaiah is a guy that’s like, ‘Get me the ball.’ Then Benson with that coordination, that little play back there, he kept his eye on it and made a play. He’s a playmaker.”

Highlighting a day of crazy plays for both teams, Questad had three plays of 20 yards or longer, including a 36-yard reception that set up Brimmer’s touchdown reception. Biglin said that play in particular stood out to him as a reason why the Braves were able to punch their ticket to Tacoma.

“There were so many great plays, but the one that’s most special is what shows me these guys are learning the game of football,” Biglin said. “Jethro comes over to me, and he’s the one that called that play down the sideline, when we rolled to the right. He said ‘They’re not covering me, coach.’ And you’ve gotta trust those guys. They’ve been with you for four years, so you trust him and he makes a big play for us.”

After the Crusaders took a 10-0 first-quarter lead on a 62-yard touchdown pass from Lewis to Chris Lefau and a 27-yard field goal by Scott Lees, the Braves started to go to work.

Facing what could have been their second consecutive three-and-out, Borisch hit Brimmer on a 9-yard pitch-and-catch to convert third-and-8, and that maintained Kamiakin’s first scoring drive. Fueled by some big runs by Borisch and Questad, the Braves went 75 yards in less than 2 minutes, and Borisch scored on a 6-yard run to put Kamiakin on the board.

After trading punts, the Braves again used big plays — a 20-yard reception for Smith with a facemask penalty added on, and runs of 29 yards for Borisch and 22 yards for Questad — to drive the ball 96 yards, capped by a 15-yard touchdown run by Borisch to help give Kamiakin a 17-10 halftime lead.

Lefau was the top offensive weapon for the Crusaders, as he racked up 206 yards and a touchdown on 10 receptions and also had a 3-yard touchdown run.

Widely considered Eastside Catholic’s most talented player, 6-foot-4, 250-pound Hunter Bryant — who lines up primarily at wide receiver — had a relatively quiet day as he was being stalked by Kamiakin’s top cornerback, Darreon Moore. Bryant, headed to the University of Washington, recorded six catches for 74 yards, but failed to score.

While Biglin was pleased with his team knocking off the two-time defending state champions, he said the Braves — who lost in both of their previous state championship appearances — still have a job to do.

Borisch said he’s looking forward to his shot at etching Kamiakin into the history books.

“Kamiakin’s never taken home a state championship, and we believe we can do it,” Borisch said. “We’re gonna do it. We’re gonna work our butts off this week, the coaches are going to do a great job of preparing, and this is the team that I want to go with.”

Kamiakin puts end to Eastside Catholic’s state title run - Seattle Times


The Braves from Kennewick beat the two-time defending state champion Crusaders 30-27 in the Class 3A state semifinals.

BOTHELL — It took a fortunate bounce of the ball and a team with more determination to keep Eastside Catholic from its fifth consecutive appearance in the Class 3A state-championship game.

Kamiakin of Kennewick went in front for good with a stroke of good fortune.

Senior quarterback Zach Borisch’s used a tipped-pass touchdown and also found Isaiah Brimmer for a 14-yard touchdown with 10:44 left in the game, and that was enough to subdue the two-time defending Class 3A state champion Crusaders 30-27 on Saturday in the state semifinals at Pop Keeney Stadium.

The Braves (11-2) rallied from a 10-point, late third-quarter deficit to keep Eastside Catholic (11-2) from its customary place in the title tilt.

“Our expectations are to win state every year,” EC coach Jeremy Thielbahr said. “It’s tough. I just want to make sure these seniors look back on this journey the way I look back on their journey. They have grown in love, showing leadership and togetherness.

“And, sometimes when you lose one you expect to win, and want to win, that goes away. I just talked to all them and said, ‘I love you. I’m proud of you.’ Our kids played hard.”

The Crusaders had possession of the ball twice in the final 10:44, but they couldn’t get out of its own end of the field. Brimmer’s interception of a Ze’Shaun Lewis pass in Kamiakin territory with 1:14 left effectively ended EC’s chances.

“We’ve had a lot of great tests,” Thielbahr said. “This team was battle-tested. We just lost one. That happens.”

Junior Benson Smith hauled in Borisch’s 17-yard pass — which was tipped by EC’s Jonathan Kvech — and stepped into the end zone for a touchdown to cut the Crusaders’ lead to 27-24 with 55 seconds left in the third quarter.

Borisch led the Braves’ offensive attack, factoring into all four touchdowns with 333 yards of total offense. Borisch rushed 23 times for 165 yards and two TDs and completed 11 of 23 passes for 168 passing and two more TDs.

The Crusaders were led by the 207 yards of total offense from senior running back Chris Lefau, who had nine catches for 190 yards and a touchdown. Lefau didn’t practice all week and was playing with a bruise on his heel.

“Chris was playing through pain; he’s beat up,” Thielbahr said. “We’ve got guys playing through pain. We had (University of Washington commit) Hunter Bryant playing through a knee injury. Our kids love each other and they laid it out for each other. I’m honored to lead this program and those guys.”

Lewis finished 19 of 41 passing for 271 yards and one TD and one interception. Bryant caught six passes for 73 yards.

Kamiakin races past Bonney Lake 37-10 in 3A quarterfinal

Kamiakin bowls over Gig Harbor 45-0

That quarterfinal is set to be played in the Tri-Cities.

The Braves will worry about that on Monday. For now, they’d like to savor Saturday’s win.

Kamiakin coach Scott Biglin was hard-pressed to think of anything they Braves did wrong against the Tides.

Then he smiled.

“Well, there were those two picks that Zach threw into the end zone,” Biglin said.

He was referring to Kamiakin quarterback Zach Borisch, who otherwise ran the Braves offense to perfection.

“They have a good defense,” Borisch said. “Now that we’re in the playoffs, all teams are good. We just had to take care of business.”

That meant getting off to a good start.

“Coach always says ‘gas to the pedal until we get to 40 or more points,” said Borisch. “So we wanted to start fast, and finish faster. Our offense is always thinking tempo, tempo, tempo.”

So on the first three Kamiakin possessions:

▪ Borisch hit a wide-open Champ Grayson for a 19-yard touchdown pass.

▪ Running back Jethro Questad rushed for a 13-yard score.

▪ And Benson Smith dived in for a 1-yard TD, set up by a 44-yard Borisch-to-Grayson pass.

Grayson was again uncovered.

“They were covering Darreon (Moore),” said Borisch. “So he would shoot to the middle, and their corner went with him. No one was on Grayson.”

This all happened in the first quarter.

Meanwhile, perhaps more impressive was the Kamiakin defense. The Braves would surrender just three first downs to Gig Harbor all day.

The defense spent the entire game blitzing and fake-blitzing, giving the Tides offense fits all day.

“During pre-game, we watched who their quarterbacks were,” said linebacker Dillon Crawford, who led the Braves with seven tackles (three for loss), one hurry and a fumble recovery. “Two of them we knew ran a lot, while the other guy was a passer. Depending on the opponent, we do a lot of blitzing.”

“Our defense is fun to watch,” admitted Biglin. “I’m glad I don't have to play against them.”

Gig Harbor never made it into Kamiakin territory in the first half. And by the time it did, the game was over.

When Borisch scored his second TD on a 2-yard run just before halftime, Kamiakin led 42-0 — activating the running clock.

Borisch finished with 194 yards passing and another 51 yards rushing. Questad rushed 22 times for 105 yards.

Grayson caught five passes for 88 yards.

Defensively, defensive lineman Christian Ramos had three tackles for the Braves, including one for a loss and another as a quarterback sack.

Mack Ditter led Gig Harbor with 11 tackles and a pass breakup.