Kalama coach Sean McDonald felt the Chinooks would be good this season; he just didn’t know when things would click.
Nearly everything did against Napavine on Friday night, as Kalama scored a decisive 20-13 win at Chinook Stadium. Elijah Haynes tallied 87 rushing yards and a touchdown, and quarterback Alex Dyer tossed two touchdowns to key the win.
“I’m just glad we played four quarters of football,” McDonald said. “We knew (Haynes) was going to be a great player, and you saw glimpses of it, but tonight you really got a look at what he can be.”
The offense as a whole played well, racking up 356 yards against the Tigers’ touted defense, with 117 yards coming on the ground. Dyer connected with six receivers and was 15 of 32 with 239 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Brennon Vance finished with four catches and 78 yards while Nathan Anderson caught two balls for 66 yards.
After the team graduated Tucker Wetmore and Jacob Herz, two guys the team ran the offense around, the Chinooks needed to find other ways to score. Dyer and his receiving corps have done that, and it might have made the group even harder to stop.
“Honestly it might make us harder to cover,” Dyer said. “In the first quarter, we were kind of running down their throats and they came in with a four-front and the pass game opened up for us.”
Napavine scored the game’s first touchdown early in the second quarter with a catch and run for 48 yards, but the Chinooks answered back quickly.
A four-play, 60 yard drive was capped by a 3-yard scamper from Haynes, and the extra point from Logan Jones put Kalama ahead 7-6. Tigers quarterback Dawson Stanley found an opening for a 2-yard touchdown run three minutes later, but that, too was answered.
Dyer found freshman Jackson Esary downfield for a 19-yard touchdown catch, a go-ahead score allowing Kalama a lead it never relinquished.
“This is probably the biggest nonleague win you can get,” Dyer said. The two teams have met in the state playoffs each of the past two years, a 20-13 win in the state semifinals leading the Chinooks to the 2B State Championship.
Brennon Vance caught a 43-yard pass from Dyer and scurried a few feet into the end zone for the game’s final score.
The offense was solid all night, though one could argue the victory was cemented by a defensive group.
Two sacks, a timely interception and a fumble recovery made an impact, as did holding Stanley and the Tigers to a 36.8 completion percentage.
“It’s just confidence. We have to be confident in what we do,” McDonald said. “I think we’re in better shape than most teams. Hands down, I give my guys credit for working their butts off this week and really getting prepared.”
Kalama continues its season with another rigid test at Adna on Friday.