Sunnyside got swallowed up in a sea of Mt. Spokane blue.
Swarms of blue-clad Wildcats overwhelmed the Grizzlies on both sides of the ball Friday night at Albi Stadium, leading to a 47-7 rout and berth next week in the first round of State 3A football. Mt. Spokane will play Hanford in the next round.
If Mt. Spokane wasn’t scoring quickly – three of its five first-half touchdowns took two or fewer plays, and the longest covered 73 yards in four minutes – the defense was forming a nearly impenetrable wall, most often in Sunnyside’s backfield.
Kellen Clute, a junior outside linebacker, and senior tackle Travis Alton were among the defensive swarmers, although in most cases they were joined by several teammates in burying the visitors.
“We’re playing assignment football, everybody’s got a gap,” Clute said. “We believe if we fill our gap and everybody does our job that we’re going to be successful as a defense. That’s kind of how it played out.”
The first big defensive play came on the game’s initial possession. Mt. Spokane turned a Chip Propp interception into its first short-field score. Quarterback Travis Ward scored from 8 yards out less than 4 minutes into the game.
“Defensively, we did a nice job of taking their bootleg away,” said coach Mike McLaughlin, which he called Sunnyside’s bread and butter.
After the next defensive stop, Chase Naccarato had a long punt return to Sunnyside’s 11-yard line that set up a short Colten Williams run.
Williams later turned a short pass from Ward into a 37-yard score and 19-0 lead before the first quarter ended.
Williams was also a substantial part of the one long drive of the half. He caught two passes for 26 yards and carried four times for 26 more including for the score.
The final touchdown of the half took one play. It was a 62-yard catch and run by Naccarato that made the score 33-0.
Mt. Spokane made it a 40-point lead with a 4-minute march after intermission and the subs finished things off. Following a bad punt snap, the Wildcats scored their final short-porch TD, keeping the clock in motion for the game’s final 16 minutes.
“I thought we played well,” McLaughlin said. “We didn’t turn the ball over and defensively we responded well.”
The lopsided outcome didn’t surprise him. After all, he said, his Wildcats (9-1) are the Greater Spokane League champions and Sunnyside finished 3-7.
“Defensively, we’ve been trying to get better against the run,” McLaughlin said. “That’s been our key to success this year. We like to hang our hat on it.”
Mt. Spokane outgained the Grizzlies 382 yards to 182. Ward was sharp, completing all 11 of his passes for 213 and Williams finished with five catches for 105.
“Travis threw well in warmups all week so it doesn’t surprise me,” McLaughlin said. “We play well when we practice well.”
By playing well, the Wildcats play on.