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One more win puts Eagles in playoffs
"Tonight's the night.It's playoffs or bust for the Klahowya Secondary School football team when it meets Port Townsend tonight at 6 p.m. in the Nisqually League finale for both teams at Jefferson County Memorial Field.The Eagles kept themselves in position for one of the league's three postseason playoff berths last Friday, Oct. 27, gutting out a 30-27 victory over Foster in their Homecoming game at rainy Silverdale Stadium. The win left Klahowya a 4-2 in the league standings, tied for third with Eatonville. Undefeated Orting (6-0) and the Townsends are in the top two spots.For the Eagles to earn the first playoff berth in their school's four-year football annals, tonight is must-win.But that's nothing new, head coach Brad Hamblet said after Friday night's victory.We've known ever since our two losses (back-to-back to state-ranked Orting and Eatonville on Oct. 6 and 13) that the rest of our games were must-win if we wanted to get to the playoffs. The kids have responded pretty well to that.Klahowya bounced back with a 14-7 come-from-behind road win over Chimacum, scoring both their touchdowns in the fourth quarter, and then scored Friday's win by simply outscoring and outlasting the dangerous Dogs.A.J. Geiss ignored the sloppy conditions to throw for 285 yards and two touchdowns as Foster (2-4 league, 3-5 overall) refused to make it easy for the Eagles to maintain their playoff hopes.They had a ton of different formations, said quarterback Ryan Williams, who turned a quarterback sneak on a key fourth-and-1 situation into a 48-yard touchdown run with 3 minutes, 56 seconds left to play to give his team the cushion it would need. But we drilled for them. We were ready.We knew they had some talented kids, Hamblet added, singling out Geiss - who was 19 for 30 through the air - and flanker Anthony Rankin - who caught passes for 90 yards. We just had to hope that if they got going, we could score more points than they could.Williams' TD gave Klahowya a 30-20 lead, it took Geiss just three completions and 44 seconds to pull the Bulldogs back within three. He hit Vince Pelagio from 30 yards out (Pelagio's second score of the game) to complete the quicksilver drive.After that, we had to control the ball, Hamblet said. No way did we want to put the ball back in (Geiss') hands again.It was just like the week before, when we found a way to put points on the board against Chimacum late in the game, Hamblet continued. This time, our offense was able to get two big, crucial first downs when we needed them.Eric Mischenko, who finished with 193 yards on 19 carries, did the honors both times in the game-sealing drive, converting two crucial third-and-3 situations. The last time the Eagles moved the chains came with less than a minute on the clock, right after the Bulldogs spent their third and final time out. Williams had only to take two snaps and drop to a knee to preserve the win.They were tough, but our offensive line really stepped up and played a great game, said Williams of the Eagles' front line, which still is somewhat in recovery mode after being banged up in the road losses at Orting and Eatonville. I was impressed with the way the line just pushed guys off the ball - but, then, they've been doing that all season.Tonight, in the biggest game in school history, the Eagles come off a short week of practice to play a team they never have beaten. Port Townsend (5-1, 6-2, has beaten Eatonville (26-23) and Chimacum (54-18) in the last two weeks.It's a team that plays an up-the-gut, smashmouth style that isn't much fun to watch, and even less pleasant to play against.They've got one guy (wide receiver Koby Riley) who's tall and fast, and they can split him wide and throw to him, Hamblet said. He's the type of guy who can turn a game around.Mostly, though, they just line it up and come at you.Under the backs-to-the-wall circumstances, it's the stiffest test the Eagles could've expected.It's OK, Hamblet smiled. We've been tested already this season. There's no doubt we'll be ready. "