Elma befuddles Klahowya

Klahowya’s Brandon Bennett (51) and AJ Cobb team up to try and drag Elma’s Jesse Patterson down during Klahowya’s 46-21 first-round loss to Elma on Friday. Patterson finished the game with 101 yards on 10 carries, while Cobb had six tackles and Bennett added three, all for losses.   - Photo by Jesse Beals
Klahowya’s Brandon Bennett (51) and AJ Cobb team up to try and drag Elma’s Jesse Patterson down during Klahowya’s 46-21 first-round loss to Elma on Friday. Patterson finished the game with 101 yards on 10 carries, while Cobb had six tackles and Bennett added three, all for losses.
— image credit: Photo by Jesse Beals

ELMA, Grays Harbor — Maybe some of Klahoywa’s loss to Elma was the rain. Or perhaps the muddy grass field. It could have been pregame jitters. Injuries surely played some role.

No matter what various factors may have played into Klahowya’s defeat, one clearly stands above the rest – Elma senior running back Trevor Lyle.

Lyle pounded the Eagles for 218 yards and seven touchdowns on 34 carries in Elma’s 46-21 victory over Klahowya in Elma Friday in the opening round of the state 4A playoffs. Lyle also added two receptions for 10 yards.

The Eagles (7-4), who made the state playoffs for the first time in school history, were visibly disappointed after the game. Perhaps looking past Elma, Klahowya came out flat and couldn’t get the offense going in the constant drizzle that hung over the field.

But despite the loss, Klahowya did have a spectacular season, KSS coach Brad Hamblet said.

“I guess I can say it in just one sentence,” Hamblet said. “They did something that had never been done here: they made the state playoffs.”

Klahowya’s loss certainly wasn’t for lack of effort. Several Klahowya players finished the game with torn jerseys, covered with dirt and mud. Klahowya, which plays on turf at home, had only played three games against opponents on grass — and lost all three. KSS had a hard time holding on to the ball in the slippery conditions.

But too many factors played in to this loss to point one finger at.

Perhaps the biggest thing allowing Lyle to run wild was injuries on the line. With senior linemen Dan Gardener and Nathan Lax already out, KSS was thin. But in the first quarter, the team got its biggest blow when defensive stop gap and senior co-captain Tony Criswell went down with a knee injury.

“We were already hurting,” Hamblet said. “Dan was out with a concussion and then Tony went down. You take a 260-pound starter out of the lineup, and that’s a big difference.”

Lyle wasted no time making an impact, as he had already racked up 173 yards and four scores at the half. The Elma offensive line opened huge holes in the middle. Combined with Lyle’s power running and speed help from Jesse Patterson and Robby Lisle, Elma finished the game with 397 yards running.

“Really, (Lyle’s) been running hard all year,” Elma coach Jim Hill said. “But our offensive line have been good all year. It’s not one guy, it’s the team. He would be the first to tell you that too.”

KSS kept it close early, answering Lyle’s first touchdown run with a big play of their own. Down 8-0 (Elma got a two-point conversion on a fake point-after attempt), Klahowya came out strong. Needing only 45 seconds to get down field, senior quarterback Nick Bayard nailed Jerid Sturman-Camyn for a 46-yard score. Sturman-Camyn caught the pass on the left side, and steamrolled Lysle before breaking free. Bryce Wick’s kick would make it 8-7.

Elma marched back down on their next drive, and would score 38 unanswered points before KSS could get two meaningless scores late against an Elma team mostly comprised of backups.

Hill said he was pleased that his team played a strong game, mentally and physically.

“This is the first round of the playoffs,” Hill said. “You have to be tough if you’re going to advance.”

Sturman-Camyn had the best day for Klahowya, racking up 12 tackles, three sacks and a fumble recovery on defense. He finished with four receptions for 76 yards and a score to lead the offense as well.

“Jerid had an excellent game,” Hamblet said. “The last four games he’s been outstanding. He really picked it up to a different level.”

Bayard had an up-and-down day, throwing for two touchdowns and two interceptions on 7-of-12 passing for 78 yards. Isaac Solaita had nine carries for 35 yards and a score. Senior Brent Collier scored Klahowya’s other touchdown on a 4-yard reception. He finished with two catches for 11 yards and a score along with eight carries for 20 yards.

Hamblet said making it this far was a huge positive for Klahowya.

“Just being here is a positive thing,” Hamblet said. “Having the young kids get a chance to be here and want to do it again. Getting here is a big step. Once we’re here, if we get them to understand what it took to get here, we’ll be back.”

Elma got big contributions running from Patterson, who picked up 101 yards on the ground in 10 tries. Elma’s defense came up big as well, as Tim Goeres had two interceptions.

Sturman-Camyn echoed Hamblet in saying that the loss doesn’t downplay the major accomplishments that KSS has achieved this year.

“This group, when we were in JV we were undefeated,” Sturman-Camyn said. “Our goal was always to make it to state. We worked a lot in the offseason over the summer to get here.”

Sturman-Camyn said Klahowya may have overlooked 5-5 Elma.

“We made it, but we didn’t have our heads in it,” he said. “We might have underestimated them. Our tackles were just getting pushed back. We just didn’t play our defensive football.”

Hamblet said the loss wasn’t as much the players, as the coaches not being prepared enough however.

“Well, I thought we were mentally prepared,” Hamblet said. “Obviously, we messed up in our coaching prep on that one. Especially when our defense is our ticket.”

And despite the loss, Klahowya left the locker room with heads high. The loss clearly wasn’t that large a blemish on an otherwise fantastic season.

“Our seniors can be very proud they had the team in this situation,” Hamblet said. “It was them that got us here. We’ve been taking baby steps all along. So to make it to this point was incredible.”

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