TACOMA – This is how good the Odessa High School football team is.
On their way to winning the State 1B championship Saturday afternoon at the Tacoma Dome with a 63-12 win over fellow Northeast League South member Almira/Coulee-Hartline, the top-seeded Tigers (14-0):
• Opened with a Gridiron Classic record for points in a quarter with 40 in the first, erasing a 30-year-old mark from the day Bridgeport-Mansfield hung 38 on Odessa in the 1988 title game.
• Had the running clock in force from the outset of the second half after coasting to a 48-6 lead at intermission.
• Held the Warriors (12-2) to 30 yards rushing and nine first downs, including none in the first 17 minutes.
• Averaged nearly a first down a play – 9.7 yards – on their way to 388 yards in a mercy rule-shortened game.
• Finished the season just short of 1,000 points, with 995.
They did all that against the second-seeded Warriors, a team that had reached 100 points in its quarterfinal victory over Crescent and set the championship game mark for points with 84 last season in its win over Sunnyside Christian.
“We’re fast and we hit. Our kids were ready to play,” Tigers coach Jeff Nelson said. “ACH is our league. They’re rivals. We’re only 45 minutes apart. That added a little fuel to the fire.”
Marcus King, who rushed for 225 yards and four touchdowns on 19 carries, was the focal point of the Odessa attack. He finished his junior season with 1,549 yards rushing and a total of 47 touchdowns.
“Marcus is the best 1B player in the state,” Nelson said. “What he did here today is what he’s done every single week.”
King alternated touchdowns with Josh Clark – who rushed for 69 yards on 12 carries and had the Tigers’ only two pass receptions from quarterback Camden Weber for 73 more yards – until Odessa had a 48-0 second quarter lead.
“Our line did a great job blocking. You could drive a friggin’ truck through the holes. It was awesome,” King said.
King pointed to Jaden Hunt, Theron Schlomer and Lane Lobe as players who did their share of the road grading.
As potent as Odessa’s offense has been, the Tigers’ defense has been an anomaly in typically high-scoring 8-man football, holding foes to 7.6 points per game.
“I told my defensive coordinator, ‘Get stops, I don’t care how you do it.’ ” Nelson said. “We brought pressure every single time, caught them by surprise with things we didn’t do when we played them the first time (a 56-22 regular-season victory).”
“We work on tackling a lot,” King said. “In 8-man, you’ve got to make a lot of open-field tackles. Plus, our coaches come so prepared. We just go out there and execute.”
ACH came alive briefly twice. Late in the second quarter, the Warriors pieced together an eight-play, 70-yard that resulted in their first touchdown, a 3-yard run by Maguire Isaak.
In the third period, they cut Odessa’s lead to 48-12 on a 21-yard Isaak pass to senior running back Hayden Loomis to conclude a six-play, 68-yard drive.
But the running clock and fourth-quarter Tigers touchdown runs by Clark and Drew Harding insured there would be no comeback.
The championship, Odessa’s first since 1993, had a family connection for several Tigers – Harding, Daeton Deife and Pilot Weishaar – whose fathers played on the last Tigers’ title team.
“The community has been waiting for 25 years,” Nelson said. “Every minute of this was fantastic.”
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