Mt. Spokane thought they were one play away from knocking off eventual state runner-up Rainier Beach in the first round of the state 3A playoffs last year.
The Wildcats came out Friday afternoon looking like they had something to prove.
Brady Hill threw for 217 yards and rushed for 77 more and Mt. Spokane routed Damien Memorial of Honolulu 42-14 at the Pine Bowl on the campus of Whitworth University.
The Wildcats led 27-0 at intermission.
“We got off to the start that we wanted to,” Mt. Spokane coach Terry Cloer said. “With them being in their third game I’d have taken 0-0 at the end of the first quarter.”
Kannon Katzer carried 10 times for 123 yards with three touchdowns and Tanner Brooks had seven catches for 138 yards and a touchdown for the Wildcats.
Damien has played in the Hawaii state championship two of the last three seasons. The Monarchs entered play this year 2-0 and had outscored opponents 62-6.
“We knew they were a quality opponent,” Cloer said. “We were prepared for a great battle and luckily we jumped out early and make it, OK, made it reasonably easy.”
“It was a great game,” said Hill. “Our guys really stepped it up today. That Damien team is good. They put on a good show.”
Mt. Spokane finished undefeated in Greater Spokane League 3A play last season and 8-3 overall. The Cats outscored their league opponents 41.3 to 4.3 and entered play ranked ninth in the Seattle Times preseason poll.
“That was a good statement for us,” Hill said. “It lets the teams around this area know we are who we are. Other teams are going to see this and see that we’re a good team.”
After a short opening series, Damien punter Christian Souza mishandled the snap and a short kick set up Mt. Spokane at the Damien 47.
On the second play, Hill lofted one down the left sideline that Brooks settled under at the 20 and took to the house for a quick 7-0 lead.
Damien used a short passing game to move into the Mt. Spokane red zone. A facemasking call pushed the Monarchs back, and a sack on fourth-and-24 gave Mt. Spokane the ball at its 35.
On second-and-6, Hill dropped back to pass, but pulled it down and took it right down the middle of the field for a 61-yard touchdown run and 14-0 lead with 4:40 left in the first quarter.
“Up front we were blocking really well and on the outside guys were running good routes,” Hill said. “Before the game we were super hyped up and we were ready to play.”
Damien took advantage of a personal foul and unsportsmanlike penalties on the same play to take the ball out to midfield. But a fumbled shotgun snap gave it back to the Wildcats.
On the next play, Katzer busted through the line on a draw and went 54 yards for a touchdown to put Mt. Spokane up 21-0 with 7:49 to go in the half.
After three straight Damien incompletions, the Wildcats took over at their 40. Hill hit Brooks for a 17-yard completion, then broke off a 16-yard run to set up first down at the Damien 27.
A false start set Mt. Spokane back, but Hill lobbed it to Brooks on the left sideline for 29 yards for first-and-goal with 17 seconds left in the half. Katzer plowed in from the 2 and Mt. Spokane took a 27-0 lead into intermission.
Hill had 143 yards passing and another 84 on the ground in the first half, while Brooks had five catches for 125 yards.
On the third play of the second half, Katzer got bottled up at the line then spun outside and went untouched down the sideline for a 36-yard touchdown. The extra point was no good and Mt. Spokane led 33-0 with 10:30 left in the third.
The Wildcats were flagged for excessive celebration on the touchdown. Forced to kick from its 25, Damien got a good return and started its possession at the Mt. Spokane 43.
On fourth-and-7, Jake Holtz hit Lindon Sevillaja in stride down the middle but the ball bounced off his hands and the Wildcats took over on downs.
Mt. Spokane moved into field goal territory, but the 38-yard attempt drifted left.
Holtz connected with Sevillaja for 31 yards and Logan Lauti for 38 yards to set up first-and-goal at the 10.
But the drive stalled and Holtz’ fourth-down pass fell incomplete in the end zone.
Two plays later, Grayson Bowles coughed it up stretching for extra yardage and Kyle Kinney recovered for Damien at the Mt. Spokane 31.
A roughing the passer penalty gave the Monarchs the ball at the 16. On fourth down, Holtz held and waited for Lauti to clear in the back of the end zone. The 5-foot-8 receiver elevated to bring down the ball and hung on to break up the shutout.
Holtz hooked up with Lauti again on a 29-yard touchdown pass with 7:11 left to cut the deficit to 33-14.
Holtz finished 22 of 48 for 299 yards.
A pass interference gave Damien the ball at the Mt. Spokane 32 with 2:45 left, but the Monarchs fumbled.
The Wildcats’ Josh Curtis took the second play 74 yards for the final score.
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