Deer Park has been trucking out football teams for 99 years, but the Stags got their first playoff win Friday night with a dominating second half to beat Naches Valley 21-0 to open the State 1A playoffs.
Both teams’ defenses dominated the first half with defensive backs catching almost as many interceptions as the quarterbacks completed to their own receivers. But the Stags came out hot in the second half to put the game away.
“Ninety-nine years of football and we finally got a playoff win. I’m pretty proud of our guys,” coach Keith Stamps said. “To throw a shutout in the playoffs is pretty cool.”
The Stags (9-1) were led by junior receiver Trayton Bird. He gained yards on runs from the backfield, he caught passes and he nearly completed a pass that was dropped by Austin Wisinger near the Naches Valley goal line.
On defense, Bird intercepted three Sean Coyle passes that helped keep the Rangers (7-4) from threatening.
But his biggest play was when quarterback Conner O’Dea hit Bird for an 11-yard touchdown pass early in the third quarter for what turned out to be the winning touchdown for the Northeast A league champions.
“That’s how we start every game,” Bird said of the scoreless first half. “We always come out harder in the third quarter. That’s all right. We’ll do whatever it takes. That’s awesome we got our first playoff win. We are all just so excited.”
While the defense continually shut down Naches Valley drives, the Stags got a boost from the healthy return of junior running back Tyson Lim. He continually broke long gains to the outside.
The play of the night came with 8:20 left to in the fourth quarter. Deer Park had just forced another Rangers turnover and O’Dea handed off to Lim just past midfield.
Lim somehow escaped a defender’s grasp in the backfield. Lim then shook off another tackler before racing 49 yards for the clincher score to make it 21-0 Deer Park.
“We’ve been talking about that single play all week,” Lim said. “Everybody hit their blocks. I just kept my legs pumping. It’s awesome to get the win. There is no way to describe it.”
The Stags, who were playing on the 27th anniversary of their first playoff game, now face Zillah next week in the second round after the Leopards got past visiting Freeman 49-42 in a triple-overtime thriller.
“We’ve got our hands full again next week,” Stamps said. “But I’m pretty excited for our guys to get this win. They earned this win all season.”
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