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    With Dave Weber

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    Meet your Host:

               Dave Weber has covered high school and college sports for The Olympian for nine years.  Since the 1970s, he has reported for newspapers and called games over both radio and television here in Washington and, previously, in California.  He covered Major League Baseball for the UPI wire service and contributed many articles to NFL Properties publications.

                For 25 years, Weber stepped away from the media and coached college and high school basketball as well as serving as athletics director for three universities.  He was the AD at the Evergreen State College from 2000-2010, the most successful time in the school’s athletic history – all four Geoducks teams to reach the NAIA’s national tournament did so during that period and 17 individual athletes were selected to All-America teams.

     

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    October 2, 2022

    And then there was one: Yelm only local unbeaten football team after Tumwater, Tenino fall

    By Dave Weber  

    Yelm High School has yet to be challenged this football season, winning each of its five games thus far by at least 30 points and the last three by 58 or more.  

    The Tornados latest victim, North Thurston, was shut out 63-0 Friday night on the Prairie as the Rams totaled only 55 yards in total offense. Brayden Platt rushed for 139 yards and two touchdowns while quarterback Damian Aalona completed 10 of 14 passes for 162 yards and two touchdowns to Aden Schaler and one to Kyler Ronquillo. 

    Next up for Yelm is 2-3 Capital, again at home. 

    Meanwhile, losses in league showdowns knocked Tenino and Tumwater out of both the ranks of the unbeatens and out of first place in their respective leagues. 

    A result threatened every year but not accomplished since 2009 came to pass at Tumwater District Stadium. Season after season, the conventional wisdom is if W.F. West doesn’t beat Tumwater in the 2A Evergreen Conference, no one will. While Black Hills proved that adage wrong in 2018, most years the Bearcats are seen as the only possible threat. only to be beaten handily by the T-Birds. 

    Not this year. 

    W.F. West stormed to a 28-0 halftime lead and breezed home, 28-7. Quarterback Gavin Fugate completed 15 of 24 passes for 254 yards and touchdowns to Cameron Amoroso and Gage Brumfield, who led the way with seven catches for 116 yards. 

    Tumwater totaled a modest 161 yards in total offense and scored only on defense, when Jadin Allen turned in a 50-yard third quarter pick six. 

    It was the first time W.F. West had beaten Tumwater since a 34-14 rout in 2009. Also during Week Five of the season. 

    The T-Birds will try to get back on track Friday when Aberdeen comes to town. 

    Tenino, which battled former 2A squad Eatonville tough on the road last season before falling, did the same this year on the Blacktop at Beaver Stadium.  

    Job Kralik scored for the top-ranked Cruisers from a yard out midway through the fourth quarter, putting Eatonville ahead to stay, 27-22. Kralik finished with 17 carries for 135 yards and three touchdowns as neither team completed a pass. 

    Dylan Spicer was the game’s offensive star, rushing for 241 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries. 

    Next up for Tenino is a road game at 3-2 Hoquiam. 

    Another team moved its record to 4-1 but with a big victory, not a defeat as Timberline went on the road and edged Gig Harbor in overtime, 36-34. 

    The Blazers third quarterback of the season, Cedric Ragland, playing because Jacob Nadeau broke his collarbone in a win over Central Kitsap after replacing injured Jackson Brown to start the season, completed 11 of 19 passes for 159 yards and a Jerrel Larkins touchdown. 

    Fullback Kaleb McNeely scored a rushing touchdown and a two-point conversion in the OT. When the Tides scored, but couldn’t match the conversion, Timberline had a huge win. 

    The Blazers meet North Thurston on Friday. A win over the Rams would set up a showdown for the 3A South Sound Conference lead the following week at Yelm. 

    This week’s full schedule: 

    Thursday 

    Olympia (1-4) vs Puyallup (4-1) at Sparks Stadium, 7 p.m. 

    Friday 

    Capital (2-3) at Yelm (5-0), 7 pm 

    Timberline (4-1) at North Thurston (1-4), 7 p.m. 

    Black Hills (3-2) at Elma (2-3), 7 p.m. 

    Shelton (3-2) at Centralia (0-5), 7 p.m. 

    Aberdeen (3-2) at Tumwater (4-1), 7 p.m. 

    Rochester (3-2) at W.F. West (4-1), 7 p.m. 

    Tenino (4-1) at Hoquiam  (3-2), 7 p.m. 

    Rainier (1-4) at Raymond-South Bend (5-0), 7 p.m. 

    Saturday 

    Mary M. Knight (0-2) vs. Northwest Christian (3-2) at Black Hills High School, 1 p.m.  

    Last week’s scores: 

    Bethel 21, Olympia 13 

    Capital 33, Central Kitsap 28 

    Yelm 63, North Thurston 0 

    Timberline 36, Gig Harbor 34 

    Aberdeen 24, Black Hills 14 

    Rochester 14, Centralia 10 

    W.F. West 28, Tumwater 7 

    Eatonville 27, Tenino 22 

    Rainier 38, Ilwaco 14 

    Northwest Christian 55, Wishkah Valley 19 

     

    September 22, 2022

    Biggest game in four years for Black Hills as W.F. West visits Tumwater District Stadium

     

    By Dave Weber                                                                     

    When Garrett Baldwin took over the head football coaching job at Black Hills High School last summer the Wolves had plummeted from their 2018 2A Evergreen Conference championship run that included a rare and cherished victory over Tumwater.

    Baldwin wasn’t yet 30, he just wanted to establish his way of doing  things, honed by years in the military, at his alma mater.

    There was no such thing as a truly big game for a 1-8 Black Hills team that beat only an illness-thinned out Centralia team.

    This season is already very different.

    After racing out to a 3-0 start that includes  a blowout win over 2A EvCo foe Rochester, a 15-0 shutout of 3A North Thurston and only 27 points total given up, the Wolves are looking at a truly big game Friday night at Tumwater Distract Stadium against a 2-1 WF West team that has lost only to defending state champ Lynden.

    It’s enough to make Baldwin set aside coach speak about no game being more important than another.

    “We say some of that, but we tell the truth, too,” Baldwin said.  “We’ve been telling the boys this is a huge opportunity to take down one of the top teams in the 2A division in the state.”

    While WF West, coming off a 48-6 road rout of Shelton in which the Bearcats rang up almost 400 yards of total offense is loaded with talent like quarterback Gavin Fugate, receiver Gage Brumfield and lineman Daniel Matagi, Blsck Hills has some pieces of its own.

    Senior running back Johnnie Stallings has averaged more than 100 yards rushing per game, sophomore QB Jaxsen Beck has completed 58 percent of his passes while seniors Tanner Parkinson, Hank Stray and Keagan Rongen have helped lead.

    Two factors have allowed the Wolves to progress since last season. 

    First, like many new programs, an off-season of work in the weight room  brought bigger, stronger, faster athletes back for Baldwin’s second season.  Then, some are being deployed in different positions.

    “When you’re a head coach who goes 1-8, you’ve got to take a step back and evaluate every little corner of the program,” Baldwin said.  Thus, players touted as the answer in one area last pre-season  are indeed excelling in 2022, but on a different section of the gridiron.

    Meanwhile the area’s two other unbeatens seek fourth straight wins tonight as Yelm meets River Ridge at South Sound Stadium and Tumwater visits Centralia.  Timberline which lost on opening night but since has won twice seeks its third in a row at Central Kitsap. 

    This week’s full schedule:

    Thursday

    Northwest Christian 22, Washington School for the Deaf 18

    Friday

    Olympia (0-3) at South Kitsap 1-2), 7 pm

    Gig Harbor (2-1)vs Capital 1-2) at Ingersoll Stadium, 7 pm

    North Thurston (1-2) at Peninsula (2-1), 7 p.m.

    Yelm (3-0) vs River Ridge (0-2)  at South Sound Stadium, 7 p.m.

    Timberline (2-1) at Central Kitsap (0-3), 7 pm

    Tumwater (3-0 at Centralia (0-3)), 7 pm

    W.F. West (2-1) vs, Black Hills (3-0)  at Tumwater District Stadium (0-1) at 7 pm.

    Rochester (2-1) at Shelton 2-1), 7 p.m.

    Tenino (3-0) at Onalaska  (1-2), 7 p.m.

    Rainier (0-3) at Morton-White Pass (3-0), 7 pm

    Last week’s scores:

    Graham-Kapowsin 28, Olympia 17

    Capital 35, North Thurston 21

    Timberline 21, River Ridge 18

    Yelm 58, Central Kitsap 0

    Black Hills 34, Rochester 7

    W.F. West 48, Shelton 6

    Tumwater 38, Kelso 19

    Tenino 62, Klahowya 14

    Napavine 63, Rainier 0

    #                             #                             #

    September 7, 2022

    Yelm lives up to its pre-season hype with 44-14 rout of 4A power Camas on opening night 

    There were very few questions about Yelm High School’s ability to justify its lofty pre-season rankings – second in one poll in 3A, third among all classifications in another. 

    The Tornados have a stellar defense filled with returning stars.  Their offense features a receiver signed with a Division I school and a running back prized by many D1s nationally. 

    How junior quarterback Damian Aalona, who only played the position briefly in Yelm’s win over Lincoln last season, would fare when Yelm hosted 4A power Camas on Friday night was a legitimate question. 

    “Quite well” turned out to be the answer. 

    Aalona completed all four of his passes for 67 yards on the Tornados first drive, finished the game 15-for-22 for 226 yards and a touchdown.  He was never intercepted as the Tornados ultimately crushed Camas, 44-14. 

    “Damian managed the offense well,” said Yelm coach Jason Ronquillo.  “He knows what our offensive coordinator (Bryan Irion) is thinking.  For his first game starting, he did a good job.” 

    The win sends Yelm on a mission to sweep both City of Camas schools as  it visits the Papermakers’ crosstown rival Union Titans Friday night.  Union lost its opening at home to Eastlake on Saturday.   

    Meanwhile, Yelm’s defense succumbed to two lengthy Camas scoring drives, the second allowing the Papermakers to tie the score, 14-14, with just over four minutes gone in the second half.  Bur Camas wouldn’t score again and would gain only 68 yards the rest of the way against Yelm’s hard-hitting defense.   

    As the night changed from smoky and still to windy and chilly, the game sped up, to Yelm’s advantage. 

    The Tornados broke the tie and pulled away on three touchdown runs of increasing length by Platt of 1, 11 and 85 yards. Platt finished with 16 carries for 181 yards and four TDs. He also caught three passes and was in on seven tackles defensively.  

    “We stuck to the game plan and the execution was far better in the second half, particularly on defense,” Ronquillo said.  “When you can get a three-and-out against a good football team like that it pays dividends.” 

    Aalona also hit Kyler Ronquillo for a 48-yard touchdown pass that highlighted the speed of Ronquillo, a state decathlon champ as well as a Portland State football signee.  Ronquillo also put an exclamation point on one of the few bleak spots his dad saw by running the last few yards backward, taunting the Camas defense. 

    The resulting flag was one of seven against Yelm on the night. 

    “I’m happy we came out with a victory, not so happy with the penalties,” Jason Ronquillo said.  “We had some selfish play happening, but the kids played hard.  We executed well, particularly during the second half.” 

    Aalona wasn’t surprised by the final margin. 

    “We had all the confidence in the world,” he said. 

    BEARS EDGED BY CURTIS AT END OF A DIFFICULT WEEK 

    Olympia quarterback Gabe Downing completed 37-of-47 passes for 381 yards and five touchdowns, but the Bears lost at home to Curtis, 35-34, in a game played under difficult circumstances. 

    Earlier in the week, junior wide receiver Gabriel Davies had gone missing on his way to practice. Relief when he was found safe quickly turned to shock when he and another local teen were charged with murder in the death of a 51-year old Orting man. 

    There is considerable coverage of the developing case elsewhere, but it needs to be mentioned on the sports page as well.  

    BOTH TUMWATER SCHOOLS PLAY BIG GAMES THIS WEEK 

    Tumwater, ranked third in Scorebook Live’s 2A poll, thrashed host Burlington-Edison, 34-7, as Carlos Matheney rushed for 165 yards and two touchdowns. The Thunderbirds host No. 2 North Kitsap on Friday in a potential rankings-rattling contest. 

    Meanwhile, a pair of teams that struggled a bit in 2021 meet Thursday at South Sound Stadium in Lacey with 1-0 marks thus far. 

    Black Hills, looking to return to the 2A Evergreen Conference championship they won in 2018, plays North Thurston after downing Montesano last week. The Rams got their victory over Washington. 

    This week’s full schedule: 

    Thursday 

    Olympia (0-1) at Emerald Ridge (0-1), 7 pm 

    Black Hills (1-0) at North Thurston (1-0), 7 pm 

    Shelton (1-0) at White River (1-0), 7 pm 

    Friday 

    Rochester (1-0) at Kingston (1-0), 6:30 pm 

    Kelso (1-0) vs. Capital (0-1) at Ingersoll Stadium, 7 pm 

    Eastmont (0-1) vs. Timberline (0-1) at South Sound Stadium, 7 pm 

    Yelm (1-0) at Union (0-1), 7 pm 

    North Kitsap (1-0) at Tumwater (1-0), 7 pm 

    Sequim (0-1) at Tenino (1-0), 7 pm 

    Toledo (1-0) at Rainier (1-0), 7 pm 

    Sound Christian vs. Northwest Christian at Black Hills High School, 7 pm 

    Saturday 

    River Ridge (0-1) at Lakes (1-0), 7 pm 

    Last week’s scores: 

    White River 21, Capital 20 

    Washougal 33, River Ridge 22 

    Curtis 35, Olympia 34 

    North Thurston 24, Washington 16 

    Kelso 23, Timberline 7. 

    Yelm 44, Camas 14 

    Black Hills 33, Montesano 20 

    Rochester 9, Seton Catholic 8 

    Tumwater 34, Burlington-Edison 7  

    Tenino 20, Pe Ell/Willapa Valley 7  

    Wahkiakum 36, Rainier 28 OT 

    Ocosta 57, Northwest Christian 0 

     

    August 31, 2022

    Tumwater’s feeder program put to the test this fall: 17 starting positions open as season begins vs. B-E

    By Dave Weber                                                    

    Bill Beattie is starting his sixth season as the head coach at Tumwater.  For more than 20 years before that, he led the program at Olympia.

    And never has the metaphorical cupboard been as bare of returning starters as it was this season when the Thunderbirds began practice.  Eight positions were open on offense, nine on defense.  The lack of experience becomes even more pronounced when you factor in that Mana Hafoka, a 6-foot-2, 270-pound all-league lineman, fills spots on both offense and defense.

    Beattie surprised himself when he tried to think of a time one of his teams had been so inexperienced.

    “It’s been awhile, certainly not since I’ve been at Tumwater,” he said.  “It’s been a long time since I’ve had to replace this many starters.  You know what?  This is probably the first time I’ve ever had to replace this many.”

    Nine of the graduated players from the T-Birds 2A state runner-up squad were First Team All-Area selections.  Several will play in college this fall, including tight ends Austin Terry (Boise State) and Ryan Otton (Washington) in Division I.

    The returners Tumwater has are of high quality.  In addition to Hafoka, running back Carlos Matheney was first team All-2A Evergreen Conference while quarterback Alex Overbay, who took over the starting role in mid-season, was honorable mention.  Defensive back Luke Reid also returns and should get some carries on offense as well. 

    The notion that Tumwater’s youth program, which has elementary school kids running the T-Birds’ signature wing-T offense, is always cooking up the next generation of stars will be put to the test.

    “The biggest challenge is making sure we get the new starters enough quality reps,” Beattie said.

    In addition to their practice sessions over the past two weeks, Tumwater has a pre-season schedule that will test its players, returning and otherwise. 

    The T-Birds open up on the road at Burlington-Edison on Friday night before returning home next week to meet another pre-season 2A top ten team in North Kitsap.  Their final non-league game will be at 3A Kelso on September 16.

    “We’ll have our hands full, but it will be great experience for all these young kids,” Beattie said.

    Matheney, who has signed with the University of Idaho, believes Tumwater is ready.

    “We’re all come together as a group and we’re closer than we’ve ever been,” said Matheney, who rushed for 1,103 yards and 15 touchdowns last season. 

    Beattie pointed to two-way linemen Landon Roy and Malijah Tucker, tight ends Jake Dillon and Beckett Wall as well as defensive back David Malroy as standouts during practice. 

    Tumwater’s visit to B-E is one of 13 season openers featuring local teams this week.

    The full schedule:

    Thursday, September 1

    Capital at White River, 7 p.m.

    Washougal vs. River Ridge, South Sound Stadium, 7 p.m.

    Friday, September 2

    Curtis at Olympia, 7 p.m.

    Washington at North Thurston, 7 p.m.

    Timberline at Kelso, 7 p.m.

    Camas at Yelm, 7 p.m.

    Black Hills at Montesano, 7 p.m.

    Rochester at Seton Catholic, 7 p.m.

    North Mason at Shelton, 7 p.m.

    Tumwater at Burlington-Edison, 7 p.m.

    Tenino at Pe Ell/Willapa Valley, 7 p.m.

    Rainier at Wahkiakum, 7 p.m.

    Northwest Christian at Ocosta, 7 p.m.

     

    August 24th 2022

    Mullen’s third year seems like his first as talented Bears look to finally kick into high gear

    By Dave Weber

    For 11 years, across two stints, Nick Mullen was successful as Timberline High School’s football coach.

    The job seemed almost perfect.  He was given additional duties as the school’s athletic director.  The street running in front of the school was Mullen Road.

    But there was one place Mullen knew he’d leave Timberline for:  Olympia.  He lived in its attendance area, his sons will one day attend.  He’d played in the 4A South Puget Sound League and wanted to return to the state’s toughest large school league to coach.

    In 2020, he got his chance, but the coronavirus pandemic swooped in to push football to an abbreviated

    winter season.  Last season, the Bears got their first extended look at a handful of stars but didn’t have the depth – fielding only varsity and freshman teams – to finish games strong and wound up 3-7.

    Three of the losses were by less than a touchdown, though, and Olympia heads into the 2022 season with a NCAA Division I-bound quarterback and the state’s top receiver among its weapons.

    “This senior class, we’ve grown up a lot together,” said Mullen.  “I got the job and then COVID hit.  They’ve weathered the storm and now I think they’re in a perfect position to surprise.  I feel like this is my first real year.  I feel brand new.”

    Quarterback Gabe Downing, a Portland State signee, passed for 2,024 yards and 22 touchdowns last season. 

    “He does a really good job of reading defenses; he’s a really talented guy,” said senior receiver Mason Juergens, who led the state, catching caught 72 passes for 1,172 yards and 16 touchdowns last year.  “I’m usually all right at getting open and he puts it in the perfect spot.”

    Downing’s cousin, Juergens has ample collegiate offers as well, including one to join Downing at Portland State but wants to let the season play out before committing.  Mullen is sure offers will still be there.

    “Mason’s deceptively fast.  He catches people off guard,” Mullen said.  “He knows how to use his body.  He runs well.  He’s first step is crazy explosive.  If he bodys you, you’re not touching the ball.   His biggest strength is body control, body awareness.”

    Other returning stars for Olympia include two-way back Kenyatta McNeese, Jr.; a second stellar wide receiver in Parker Fouts and 6-3, 255-pound defensive end Aiden Dehnis.

    Mullen’s first goal for 2022 has been achieved:  the Bears will field varsity, junior varsity and C teams. 

    “Our numbers have grown a lot,” he said.  “The older guys have done a great job of getting kids to come out, making sure they know they’re going to be a part of something special.  Wins and losses are a byproduct of high school football.  If you’re doing the right things it becomes about the journey, the process.”

    Olympia’s on-the-field goal now becomes finishing out games strong, working toward more wins at the end of the process.

    “We have to finish games better,” said Downing.  “If you look back at all the games last year we were in almost every single game.  If we’d have finished in the fourth quarter better we’d have made the playoffs.  Our record does us dirty a little bit.  We were a better team than it showed.”

    Mullen and his staff have intentionally added to the adversity their players face during workouts and practices to have them ready for key fourth quarter moments.

    “What we worked on during the summer is bringing intensity to every game, every weight session, every quarter.  Consistency on offense, finishing drives, finishing plays,” Mullen said.   

    “My guys have had something thrown at them every single week.  I’m sure other schools have, too.  But I’ve been amazed at how our guys show up.  They believe in each other.  They believe in our system.”

    Olympia won’t get to ease into its schedule.  The Bears open against three teams that beat them a year ago:  home to Curtis, at an explosive Emerald Ridge team and back home against nationally ranked Graham-Kapowsin on Sept. 16.