By Bob Kirkpatrick
North Creek ran into a buzzsaw in the Kamiakin Braves who dominated the Jaguars 56-21 in the opening round of the State 4A playoffs Saturday, Nov. 13 in Kennewick.
“They were definitely the most talented team we played this season,” coach Torrey Myers said. “I told our players that if we played our best game of the year, we would win. We did not do that.
“The combination of fumbles and penalties didn’t allow us to keep the game competitive.”
North Creek won the coin flip and elected to receive the ball to begin the game. The Jaguars started their drive on their 39 and moved the ball to the Braves’ 39. But three plays later punted the pigskin and downed it at the Kamiakin 1-yard line.
The Braves then drove the ball 99 yards for the first score of the contest when Luis Salgado punched it in from a yard out (PAT) and Kamiakin led 7-0.
North Creek answered the touchdown with two minutes left in the opening quarter when QB Kennedy McGill hooked up with Stephen Woodward from 21-yards out (PAT) to tie it 7-all.
A 27-yard TD pass from Henry Mercado to Ethan James (PAT) a minute into the second quarter made it 14-7 Braves. The Jags evened it 14-14 on a 56-yard pitch and catch from McGill to Rocco Traoré.
Kamiakin regained the lead, 21-14, on a 34-yard TD pass from Mercado to EJ Hawkins (PAT) with three minutes left in the first half.
North Creek turned the ball over on downs on its next possession and the Braves were able to take advantage when Mercado and Hawkins hooked up again (PAT) to push the score to 28-14 at the break.
Kamiakin received the second half kick and drove the ball to the North Creek 4-yard line. But the Braves fumbled it on the next play and the Jaguars recovered the ball at their 12-yard line.
North Creek advanced the pigskin to the 48 but fumbled the ball back to the Braves. Two minutes later, Mercado connected up with Hawkins a third time (PAT) and Kamiakin went up 35-14.
The duo hooked up one more time with five minutes to go in the quarter (PAT) and the Braves stretched their lead to 42-14.
Kamiakin’s Payton Graham returned a Jaguar punt 42 yards for another score to make it 49-14 at the end of the third quarter.
Five minutes into the final quarter, Mercado tossed his sixth TD pass of the game (PAT) and the Braves put the Jaguars in the rearview mirror, 56-14.
McGill’s 46-yard rushing touchdown made it respectable, 56-21, with two minutes left in the game.
It was a disappointing loss for the Jaguars as North Creek was looking to make a deep run in the postseason. Nonetheless, Myers was proud of the teams’ accomplishments this year.
“Overall, this season was a success,” Myers said. “It’s the first time we made it to the round of 16. We played very competitively with every team on the schedule and we beat two playoff teams (Skyline and Kennedy Catholic) for the first time in school history.”