TUMWATER — Kalama will head to the Tacoma Dome to play in the Class 2B State Championship for a second straight year after rolling Toledo 47-22 on Saturday at Sid Otton Field.
This one feels a little different.
“Last year we were more excited; it was our first time doing it,” Kalama senior Max Ross said. “This year, we know what to expect.”
After graduating a ton of talent from the 2017 team that brought the Chinooks their first state title since 1998, this year’s Kalama team flew a bit under the radar. After starting the year 1-2, the Chinooks have won 10 in a row by an average of 41 points per game.
Still, it’s business as usual in Kalama, which will face Napavine, 32-13 winners over Adna, at 4 p.m. Friday.
“We talked about it before the season that we’re not going to be the same team as last year, but we’re a family,” Kalama coach Sean McDonald said. “We put a little bit of the ego aside, and we play as a team. They’re excited; I’m excited. They’re ready to come back and work to get the job done.”
A slow start for the Chinooks on Saturday gave way to the high-flying attack soon enough. Alex Dyer was 19 of 28 for 273 yards and four touchdowns. He completed multiple passes to five different receivers, and also ran in for a 10-yard score to give Kalama a 20-7 halftime lead.
Max Ross caught eight passes for 105 yards and a 31-yard touchdown, Jackson Esary caught two balls for 40 yards and a 13-yard score; and Randall Keithley had two catches for 21 yards and a 19-yard catch to open the scoring.
Brennon Vance finished with five catches for 87 yards and 35-yard score. He also gave Dyer some competition for the starting gig with a two-point conversion toss and a 36-yard touchdown pass to Grant Vandenberg on a wide-receiver reverse.
“Alex… he’s got a better arm,” Vance laughed. “I’m not going to call him out.”
Bradey O’Neil finished things off with a 1-yard touchdown run, closing with 59 yards on seven carries.
For Toledo, it was another episode of the recurring nightmare that has been fumbles the past two seasons. The Indians fumbled seven times, losing five of them, and threw an interception.
“I don’t know where it came from; I don’t know why it happened,” Toledo coach Mike Christensen said. “We just couldn’t hold on to the ball. … You can’t win football games like that.”
Bryce Marcil was 6 of 13 for 130 yards and two touchdowns and Coleby Cherrington had 14 carries for 54 yards and a 7-yard touchdown trot to cut the Kalama lead to 12-7 in the second quarter. Fano Arceo-Hansen caught a 14-yard touchdown pass and Cherrington had a 19-yard scoring catch as part of his three hauls for 89 yards.
The Indians graduate 10 seniors from this 8-5 team, which was at one point 2-4 before rallying to a second state semifinal in three years.
“Just the resiliency they showed, that’s what I’m most proud of,” Christensen said. “The heart and effort and love of the game they played with throughout the year. Our seniors were a great example for our younger kids.”