ZILLAH — The Klahowya football team finished its season with a 7-3 record after a loss in the first round of the 1A state tournament this past weekend.
It was only the second time in school history the Eagles had made it to the state tournament — the last and only other time was 2004. They lolst 51-20 to Zillah, which had only given up one touchdown the entire season.
“We knew it was going to be a tough game,” head coach Dan Ericson said. “We played hard; our kids did a great job with it. We had a long bus ride and the players were excited the whole time. It had a different feel.”
Zillah jumped out to a quick 18-0 lead in the first quarter. The Leopards had some good size and were able to use it effectively against the smaller Eagles, but Klahowya hung in there and made it a game.
Just before the end of the half, John Hartford connected with Drew Dickson for a 65-yard touchdown.
Hartford and Dickson, both seniors playing in what would turn out to be their final games, had a night to remember. Dickson caught 14 passes for 255 yards, and Hartford completed 20 of 32 passes for 350 yards.
The Leopards continued to dominate time of possession in the second half. A Hartford rushing touchdown had cut the deficit to 26-14, but Zillah had two long drives in the third quarter and Klahowya had the ball just once, which turned out to be a three-and-out. Hunter Wallis scored a rushing touchdown in the fourth quarter.
“Zillah was a quality opponent,” Ericson said. “There’s a reason they were the No. 2 seed.”
All told, Hartford completed 64 percent of his passes this season for 1,805 yards and 19 touchdowns, both of which are new school records. Initial plans early in the season called for him to occasionally line up at wide receiver to give defenses a different look, but the senior signal-caller got hot early and never looked back.
Dickson was his top target; he finished with 45 receptions for 751 yards and nine touchdowns. Chase Templteon emerged as a reliable possession receiver with 27 catches for 233 yards and two touchdowns. Jacob Keppert, also a senior, had 27 receptions for 378 yards and four touchdowns.
Senior Tanner Weaver turned in a fine defensive season at linebacker after missing most of his junior year. He led Klahowya with 13.5 tackles for a loss and 5.5 sacks.
Among next year’s returners, sophomore Hunter Wallis blossomed at running back this season, eclipsing the 1,000-yard barrier with 1,071 and 13 touchdowns. He also caught 22 passes for 210 yards and recorded four sacks and 98 total tackles on defense (31 solo), the latter a team-leading figure.
Juniors Jacob McKeel and Nick Lewis also made a big impact on the defense. With 76 and 75 total tackles respectively, they will lead the defensive corps in 2019.
— Mark Krulish is a reporter for Kitsap News Group. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @MKrulishKDN.