Kamiakin’s relentless pass rush paces narrow playoff win over Lakes

It wasn’t the prettiest win, but style counts for little when it comes to playoff football.

On a chilly Saturday afternoon at Lampson Stadium, Dillon Crawford had 31/2 of Kamiakin High School’s eight sacks, and Benson Smith scored second-half touchdowns on a reception and a kickoff return as the No. 5 Braves held off the visiting Lakes Lancers 24-21 to advance to the Class 3A state playoffs for the third consecutive year.

“We’re moving on in the playoffs,” Crawford said. “It’s always a good deal, I don’t really care what the score is, we’re moving on. That’s the whole goal.”

Defending state champion Kamiakin (9-1) will go on the road to face No. 7 Timberline (10-0, 3A South Sound champion) at 5 p.m. Saturday in the first round.

Against an athletic Lancers’ team that matched up well with Kamiakin on the outside, the Braves’ pass rush against junior quarterback Liam Bladow proved critical.

“They wanted to throw the ball, and throw the ball on us, but we put a lot of pressure on the quarterback, and I think that was a big deal,” Crawford said. “I think that quarterback had it in the back of his mind the whole time that we were coming.”

But when Bladow was able to get the ball away, Lakes made Kamiakin pay. Na’hoku Agor, a 5-foot-8, 180 pound senior, racked up 115 yards from scrimmage on 13 touches, and scored all three of the Lancers touchdowns (two receiving, one rushing). Defensively, Lakes badly disrupted Kamiakin’s rhythm, holding freshman tailback Tuna Altahir to just 41 yards on 17 carries and intercepting Payton Flynn twice.

“They’ve got a lot of great athletes over there, and their guys up front handled us pretty well,” Kamiakin coach Scott Biglin said. “We didn’t do anything offensively that we wanted to do, so we’re gonna have to go and study the film to make some adjustments, because we’re gonna have another great team we have to go play next week.”

Flynn completed 14 of his 29 passes for 212 yards, with a touchdown, and found Champ Grayson six times for 121 yards.

Kamiakin started its first drive deep in Lakes’ territory, and had a would-be 39-yard touchdown hookup from Flynn to Smith brought back on an illegal man down field call. It wouldn’t matter though, as Grayson hauled in another 39-yard bomb on the ensuing play, and Altahir punched the ball across the goal line for a 5-yard score on the ensuing snap to make it 7-0.

But as fast as the game started, defense dominated the rest of the first half, with a 24-yard TD pass from Bladow to Agor to tie it at 7-all in the second quarter serving as the only other score. Kamiakin got rolling on the final possession before the intermission, driving 65 yards in 1 minute, 30 seconds, but the result was Kaden Shymanski just missing wide right on a 25-yard field goal attempt as the half expired.

Lakes started the second half in similar fashion to how Kamiakin opened the game, with an interception setting up a 24-yard catch by Agor inside the Braves’ 5, who scored a few plays later on a 2-yard run to give the Lancers their only lead of the game, at 14-7. But Smith quickly returned the favor, getting behind stellar blocking and speeding 97 yards untouched on the ensuing kick, which tied it back up.

“That touchdown on us early was kind of a heartbreaker coming right out of the half,” Smith said, “because we were expecting to come out fast and hard, and we wanted that to be us coming out and scoring quickly.

“But we dealt with that adversity, and on that kick return the blockers blocked incredibly well. There was a wide open hole, a truck could have gone through it, so I just had to run as fast as I could.”

Smith then helped Kamiakin reclaim the lead when, on fourth-and-7, Flynn found him in the front of the end zone from 17 yards out to make it 21-14 with 10 minutes to play. Shymanski later capped off a 51/2-minute, 56-yard late drive with a 31-yard field goal that put the Braves up by 10 with 2:15 to play.

“To our credit, we battled,” Biglin said. “And that field goal by Kaden there kind of iced the game.”

That drive and kick proved to be the difference, as Lakes (6-4) marched down the field on the next possession, with Agor scoring his third and final TD of the day, on a 12-yard pass from Bladow, with 2 seconds remaining. Kamiakin recovered the onside kick to seal the victory.

“I’m so proud of our boys, playing a really good Kamiakin squad,” said Lakes coach Dave Miller, whose team had won playoff games at Lampson Stadium the past two years and five times in total. “We know they’re always tough over here, but the coaches do a great job of getting Kamiakin ready. They always have a great program, defending state champs, and to come over on their field, and take them down to the final whistle, couldn’t be more proud of our guys.”

Kamiakin offense erupts in 56-20 win over Southridge

As the Kamiakin High School football team can attest, defense wins championships; that’s what got them a state title last year.

But apparently what wins senior night games and regular season finales is just scoring lots and lots of points, like the Braves did in their 56-20 win over Southridge in a late Thursday MCC matchup at Lampson Stadium.

Champ Grayson caught eight passes for 143 yards with two touchdowns, and registered the game’s opening score on a 63-yard punt return. Payton Flynn completed 20 of 29 passes for 294 yards and three touchdowns. Freshman running back Tuna Altahir carried it 16 times for 144 yards with two scores.

Even the kicker, Kaden Shymanski, had a banner day, nailing all eight of his extra-point attempts.

Southridge quarterback Mason Perez was slinging the ball all over as well, completing 21 of 39 passes for 311 yards, and hitting Logan Grigg on all three of his TD connections. Grigg, whose receiving stats weren’t listed in the top 15 of the league before the game, caught nine passes for 210 yards.

With the loss, Southridge (3-6, 2-5) was eliminated from postseason contention, with Kennewick — a 35-7 winner over Pasco on Thursday — usurping its spot as the MCC’s No. 2 Class 3A team. The Lions (3-6, 2-5) play at Shadle Park on Tuesday.

Having already clinched the top seed, Kamiakin (8-1, 6-1) hosts the winner of Friday’s Lakes-Bethel game, at 1 p.m. Saturday.

Led by freshman Altahir, Kamiakin rallies to take down Kennewick

By Jeff Morrow
October 14, 2017 1:16 PM

And so it was that a freshman named Tuna shall lead them.

Kamiakin's football team found itself in a tight battle Friday night against the visiting Kennewick Lions, holding just a 14-12 lead at intermission.

Braves coach Scott Biglin let his team — which lost a 33-0 showdown at Richland the previous week — have it in the locker room during the drawn out Homecoming halftime at Lampson Stadium.

"We put it on the seniors," Biglin said. "They've got to start leading if we're going to get to the playoffs. We challenged them."

And the Braves did rise to the challenge.

But it was running back Tuna Altahir — a 5-foot-11, 170-pound freshman — who really took Biglin's words to heart.

His 48-yard touchdown scamper on Kamiakin's first offensive play of the second half gave the Braves the cushion they needed en route to a 35-12 Mid-Columbia Conference victory.

In fact, Altahir did some serious damage, rushing 23 times for 179 yards and three touchdowns.

"He's pretty good," Biglin said. "He's got a lot more to learn. He missed some reads. But he just turned 15 (Thursday). He's got that natural ability we all wish we had. Unfortunately (senior running back) Talmage (Jacobsen) went down (with a shoulder injury earlier this season). We knew that means next man up in this league."

Read more here: http://www.tri-cityherald.com/sports/high-school/prep-football/article178924721.html#storylink=cpy

Kamiakin D steps up, shuts out Hanford

By Dustin Brennan \

September 29, 2017 10:21 PM

For the first four weeks of the season, the Kamiakin High School football team mostly relied on its dynamic offense to lead the way to an undefeated start.

But Friday night was a little different, as the Braves used a consistently punishing defensive effort to shut out the Hanford Falcons 30-0 at Lampson Stadium and move to a perfect 5-0 in their state title defense campaign.

“Sometimes the defense has to pick you up, sometimes it’s the offense,” Kamiakin coach Scott Biglin said. “Offensively, we were missing on a few things that we’d like to capitalize on, but that’s a really good football team over there. That score doesn’t indicate how close this game really was.”

Linebacker Parker Larson seemed to be in the middle of everything Kamiakin (5-0, 3-0 MCC) was doing defensively, unofficially registering two sacks and a tackle for loss in the first half alone, and Champ Grayson picked off Hanford quarterback Garrett Horner twice — both almost immediately after Grayson had fumbled on punt returns. And the Braves’ defensive backfield shut down a potentially dangerous Falcons receiving core, allowing the wide outs to gain just 29 yards on five catches.

“Overall, I think the defense played really well,” said Larson, the younger brother of first team All-MCC linebacker Hayden Larson, who graduated from Kamiakin last year. “Our corners and DBs covered really well ... and they (Hanford) didn’t score, so we did our job.”

While defense, for both teams, seemed to be the story, Kamiakin was able to find rhythm in a couple of spurts, as QB Payton Flynn completed 18 of 31 passes for 191 yards and three touchdowns (with no interceptions) and Benson Smith caught six balls for 69 yards and two TDs, while also returning a kickoff for a score.

After a scoreless first quarter, Kamiakin registered points in all three phases before halftime. It started when Flynn hit Smith with a 23-yard touchdown pass to cap a 4 1/2 -minute, 78-yard drive to open the scoring near the beginning of the second quarter. Then Dillon Crawford blocked a punt that went out of the back of Hanford’s end zone for a safety to make it 9-0, and Smith returned the ensuing kickoff 60 yards for a 16-0 game in the blink of an eye.

Hanford (2-3, 1-2) showed some fight after halftime, driving 53 yards on its second possession before turning it over on downs, then forcing Kamiakin to go three-and-out. But Flynn capped the Braves’ first two drives of the fourth quarter with touchdown passes — the first 21 yards to Champ Grayson, the second finding Smith from five yards out for his third TD of the game — which essentially put a bow on the win.

“I feel like physically we’re there,” Hanford coach Brett Jay said, “but mentally we’ve gotta keep believing that we can play with anybody, and be mentally tough enough to sustain drives.

“But we’re closer. We just have to want to get over the hump. We’ll just get ready for the next game and keep ironing out the mistakes.”

Jared DeVine led a Hanford rushing attack that was effective for most of the night, gaining 133 total yards on 25 touches. Drezdyn O’Daol gained 87 yards on his 12 touches.

Despite winning its first state championship in school history last year — unless, that is, you count the 2010 championship that the WIAA vacated from Bellevue earlier this week — Kamiakin lost two regular season games.

One of those losses was avenged two weeks ago, when the Braves beat Chiawana 26-20 in double overtime, which sets the stage for the matchup of the year in the MCC next week when Kamiakin takes on Richland — the 2016 Class 4A state runner-up — at Fran Rish Stadium.

“It’s gonna be a hard battle,” Larson said. “But I think we’re going to come out on top. Defense is pretty strong, offense just needs to fix a few little details, and yeah, we’ll come out on top.”

The Bombers beat the Braves 21-20 last year when Adam Weissenfels blocked an extra point by then-Kamiakin kicker Garrett Paxton that would have sent the game to a second overtime period. Unlike last year, both teams will roll into this Week 6 matchup with identical 5-0 records.

“I think we’re doing well,” Smith said of the Braves’ chances heading into next week. “We’re almost there, and once we get good preparation, and once we really get firing on all cylinders, we’ll be able to do some good things.”

Read more here: http://www.tri-cityherald.com/sports/high-school/prep-football/article176304721.html#storylink=cpy

Kamiakin backs run wild, Braves shut out Bulldogs

By Dustin Brennan

Unfazed by a double-overtime win over Chiawana a week ago, the Kamiakin High School football team rushed for more than 220 yards in a 59-0 blowout victory over the Pasco Bulldogs on Friday at Edgar Brown Stadium.

Talmage Jacobson led the way for the Braves’ ground attack as he picked up 97 yards on his 14 carries and scored on two short runs in the first quarter. Freshman Tuna Altahir carried it seven times for 55 yards and scored his third touchdown of the season with 30 seconds remaining in the first half.

Payton Flynn found Champ Grayson four times for 122 yards, including on two of his three touchdown passes. Flynn threw the ball only 13 times, but completed nine of those passes for 169 yards before yielding to Lucas Castilleja and the second-teamers in the second half.

Read more here: http://www.tri-cityherald.com/sports/high-school/prep-football/article175068146.html#storylink=cpy