Coeur d’Alene left no doubt which football team was better the second time around.
The Vikings, losers of two straight to conclude the regular season, redeemed themselves with a 38-14 win over Lake City in a State 5A playoff opener Friday before an estimated crowd of 3,000 at LC.
Coeur d’Alene (7-3) will play host to third-ranked Eagle (9-1) in a semifinal next Friday at 7 p.m. Eagle handled Rocky Mountain 35-17.
In the other openers, No. 1-ranked Capital (10-0) downed Mountain View 38-13 and defending state champ Highland (8-2) stopped Idaho Falls 34-26.
The Vikings, who had to survive a three-team Kansas Tiebreaker on Monday, quieted the naysayers with three second-half touchdowns from junior running back Zach Keiser and a 34-yard field goal from Connor Williams as CdA blew open what had been a tightly contested game in the first half.
“You know, eight days ago everybody buried us,” CdA coach Shawn Amos said. “This family atmosphere stuff pays off down the road. These kids kept believing and they kept caring about each other. They didn’t listen to anybody in the outside world (who) gave up on us. Now we’re one game away from the state title game.”
The Viks snapped a seven-game losing streak to LC, dating back to 2004 – when CdA played in the state final.
Unlike the first game between the rivals two weeks ago, CdA’s offensive line opened some big holes for Keiser.
And the speedy Keiser took advantage, scoring on runs of 4, 25 and 2 yards in the second half. He finished with 165 on 24 attempts.
“Our (offensive) line and 23 (Keiser) took that thing over,” Amos said. “We knew they had it in them. They were thoroughly disappointed how they played the last time against these guys.”
Keiser deflected praise to his line.
“”All the credit goes to them,” Keiser said. “We knew we could win this game if we blocked and made tackles, and that’s exactly what we did.”
LC kickoff returner Austin Kiefer bobbled the opening kickoff, finally securing it at the 5-yard line. He turned possible disaster into a 62-yard return to CdA’s 33-yard line.
Seven plays later, the Timberwolves (3-7) scored on a 2-yard plunge from Jacob Bowman.
CdA answered on its first possession, marching 60 yards on nine plays. Quarterback Ryan Dunton plunged from a yard out to even the score.
The Viks scored on their second series when Dunton took off on a draw for a 24-yard TD run. Williams’ point-after kick put CdA ahead 14-7 with 2:40 left in the first period.
LC evened the score at 14-14 with 31 seconds left before halftime when Brian Griswold scored from 3 yards out.
It was all CdA the final two quarters.
“A lot of respect to Lake City,” Amos said. “They’re always a tough team.”
LC coach Van Troxel tipped his hat back.
“Tonight we played a better football team,” Troxel said. “You give credit where credit is due. We didn’t block and tackle as well as we should have, but we didn’t quit. Six, seven weeks ago there were a number of times we gave up. That’s what I’m proud of. They’ve grown up, they learned how to be a team, they learned how to play and care about each other. Some days you run into people who have more talent than you do.”
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