Saints back on winning track

Saints linebacker Gabe Llamas (9) lets out some excitement after stopping a  Willamette Valley drive in the Saints’ 37-10 victory Saturday. - Photo by Jesse Beals
Saints linebacker Gabe Llamas (9) lets out some excitement after stopping a Willamette Valley drive in the Saints’ 37-10 victory Saturday.
— image credit: Photo by Jesse Beals

The Saints shook off a sluggish start to roll to their first win of the year, 37-10 over the Willamette Valley Raiders Saturday night at Silverdale Stadium. West Sound (1-2) fell behind early for the third straight game, as the Raiders punched in a touchdown after recovering a fumbled punt on the 20-yard line, but a huge defensive play turned the game around quickly and decisively.

As the Raiders were threatening again, Brandon Johnson picked off a pass at the two-yard line, and returned it all the way for a touchdown. Nick Oberstoff tied the game with the point after, and the Saints turned their season around.

Marvin Bronson replaced Brandon Pedersen at quarterback, and the team responded in a big way.

“As soon as he came in, the tempo of the team picked up,” coach John Corey said. “Brandon’s going to be a good quarterback, but he’s got to establish a rhythm. Marvin understands our sense of urgency. He’s a great athlete, and quarterback is probably not his best position, but his leadership makes the difference.”

Bronson hooked up with Ramon Martinez for a first half touchdown of 18 yards, and he hit Justin Kelley for a 22-yarder in the third quarter. Anthony Galloway continued his outstanding season with a pair of second half touchdown runs, blasting in twice for short yardage. Oberstoff booted a 22-yard field goal, and hit two more extra points.

“The jumbo package worked well,” Corey said. “We were just trying to stuff it in the end zone in close, not trying to get too cute.”

There was nothing cute about the defense in the second half either, as the Saints stifled the Raiders, recording seven sacks and adding a pair of interceptions. Gabe Llamas led the blitz with three sacks, and Eddie Llamas, Casey Huntsinger and Jeris Villanueva joined the party. Bronson had a 55-yard interception return, and Leonard Burleson III grabbed another.

Bronson finished with 157 yards passing on seven of 13 attempts, and Martinez hauled in six catches for 121 yards.

“During the second half,” Corey said, “I heard players on the sideline saying, ‘Now we’re playing Saints football!’ That gave me goose bumps.”

The team hopes to keep playing Saints football, as it travels to Edmonds on Saturday, June 30, for a contest with the Snohomish County Vikings (2-1).

“We’ll be tested again,” Corey said. “We used to dominate them when they were the Orcas. I think last year was the first time they ever beat us, and now they’re just biting at the bit. But winning changes a lot of attitudes, and we’ve created a great attitude right now. We’ll be hard to beat.”

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